- As Fed Govt woos fleeing firms
The bilateral agreement between Nigeria and the United States is set for a significant boost as the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Tuesday, flagged off a mutually beneficial partnership with the Port of Miami, USA, aimed at improving exports, efficiency and ease of doing business, in Nigerian ports.
The NPA Managing Director, Ms Hadiza Bala-Usman who anchored the partnership highlighted during a stakeholders meeting at Eko Hotels in Lagos that the partnership would immensely benefit the two countries.
The stakeholders who assembled at the venue ranged from shipping moguls which included the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Nigeria Indigenous Ship Owners Association (NISA), to distinguished Senators and Reps who represented the National Assembly, the core professionals who represented the Service providers, particularly the dredging companies, the organized private sector, represented by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry and as well as administrators and technocrats who represented the Federal Ministry of Transportation and Government parastatals, amongst others.
Bala-Usman, represented by Prof. Abubakar Idris, Director, Engineering and Technical Services, noted that the NPA in 2001, signed a trade agreement with the Miami Port; and was now prepared to works consolidating, concretizing and harvesting recognizable benefits and revenue from the partnership, even as her management brainstormed with the representatives of Miami-Dade County, Florida, US, on bilateral trade relations.
“The US mission is an excellent initiative aimed at trade balance between Nigeria and the US.
“We are looking forward to technical exchange that will boost the economy of Nigeria in the area of attracting traffic to the ports.
“The initiative, when it comes on stream as being fashioned, will among other things attract infrastructural development at the ports,” Bala-Usman said.
Speaking in the same vein, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who represented the National Assembly, said the provision of statutory framework for the partnership to flourish is a priority.
“The passage of Maritime Port and Harbour Bill was aimed at providing comfort to investors; this was fashioned to hasten the ease of doing business in the ports.
“The bill entails global best practice, which is an open invitation for the world to invest in Nigeria ports.
“The law will promote trade; it is a watershed in our maritime sector to encourage investments in the non-oil sector, which is a cardinal objective of the Buhari administration,” Omo-Agege stated, noting that, investments in the non-oil sector have the potentials to lift the Nigerian economy from its present state to an advanced economic stature.
He described the Nigeria’s maritime sector as a vast un-harnessed area with lots to offer investors, especially in the area of fishery produce export.
The Minister of Transport, Mr Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, who was represented by the Director, Maritime Services, Mr Sanni Umar assured of the Ministry’s total support, adding that the collaborative initiative between the two countries would positively boost the economy, especially desired produce export.
The Nigeria species of fishes, he observed is in high demand in the Western world, and therefore the partnership should be seen as a welcome initiative that the country has been longing for.
The leader of the US delegation, Mrs Audrey Edmonson assured that Miami Port would go the extra mile to ensure the current collaboration works, even as she spoke glowingly of a hope of better relationship with the Nigerian ports.
She stressed that all avenues for making the partnership work would be explored, so as to assist the Nigerian ports bolster the nation’s economy through improved cargo handling infrastructure and expertise.
In the meantime, some companies which left Nigeria may return –as Federal Government plan to ensure they are back.
No fewer than 3,000 workers lost their jobs in October, last year when some companies left. Such companies include ExxonMobil, Pan Ocean, Sapiem Ground Petroleum, and Hercules Offshore Nigeria Limited.
In August, over 20 shipping firms were said to have left Nigeria for what they called poor government policies and global economic crunch, leading to about 3,000 job losses.
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has signed three Executive Orders – “Promotion of Transparency and Efficiency in the Business Environment”;”Submission of Annual Budgetary Estimates by all Statutory and Non-Statutory Agencies, including Incorporated Companies wholly owned by the Federal Government of Nigeria”; and “Support for Local Content in Public Procurements by MDAs of the FGN”.
The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita, speaking at the workshop for Federal Government agencies, parastatals, corporations and companies on the operationalisation of the executive order on promotion of transparency and efficiency in the business environment, at the old Banquet Hall of the State House, yesterday said the government was doing everything possible to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
She said: “It is worthy of note that, government is committed to creating transparency in the business environment and enunciation of policies that would motivate investors to invest their funds in profitable business activities in the country.
“It is therefore hoped that all companies that had hitherto relocated from the country some years back will see reasons to be convinced by the sincerity of purpose being displayed by the present administration in creating a conducive business environment for genuine investors for them to be motivated to return.”
She also reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to moving up the ranking of the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index 20 places in first year and be in the top 100 within the next three years.
Nigeria is ranked 169 of 189 countries by the World Bank, according to the Bank’s 2016 Ease of Doing Business report.
The Acting Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mrs Habiba Lawal, described the Executive Order as one of the measures employed by the administration to achieve a more judicious management of Nigeria’s resources and improved business environment.
She stressed that the provisions of the Executive Order were the focus of the workshop and urged MDAs to demonstrate commitment and support for the government’s policy directives to facilitate their successful implementation.
Mrs. Lawal said: “The successful operationalisation of the provisions of the Executive order requires the collective effort of us as the critical stakeholders in the public sector.
“In this regard, the objective of this workshop is an awareness campaign to introduce Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council – Ease of doing Business Environment Secretariat (PEBEC-EBES).
Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment and Vice Chair of Presidential Enabling Business environment council (PEBEC) Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah said the government was already getting testimonies that the reforms were working.
He said the government was aiming to see headline in the international media, such as “Nigeria: A textbook African success story”, adding: “So the work starts now if we are going to see this happen.”
Additional report from Nation