…As NEPZA MD says Less than 14 of 34 FTZs operating ***
The Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, (NIMASA) Dr. Dakuku Peterside on Sunday expressed the agency’s determination to partner with the Defence Research and Development Bureau, noting that research could act as vibrant catalyst, to attain sustainable development.
Dr Peterside who stated this when the Director General of the Defence Research and Development Bureau, Air Vice Marshall (AVM) Jomo Osahor led his team on a courtesy visit to NIMASA in Lagos, further noted that what makes a great organization is the ability to initiate new processes based on detailed research, which will in turn guarantee sustainable growth with a positive multiplier effect on the nation.
Speaking further, the NIMASA DG reemphasized the need to develop indigenous capabilities to build armored and ballistic vessels amongst others, which will be specifically designed to suit the Nigerian geographical terrain. This he explained is the only way to reduce dependence on western supplies which may not necessarily suit the Nigerian waters.
“It is only when the research capabilities of the armed forces is fully developed that we can maximize our military powers. We are now more knowledgeable that not everything in the country is imported. Yes, we cannot accomplish all over night, but with sustained efforts we will be there and even surpass them”, the DG said, pointing out the need for a rapid growth of the Nigerian maritime sector.
While also using the opportunity to commend the efforts of the Armed forces of Nigeria for its doggedness in ensuring the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Nigeria through their commitment, he assured them that NIMASA will continue to remain a partner in progress for the good of our country Nigeria.
“On our part as NIMASA, we are open to all forms of developmental initiatives that can help better our maritime sector, especially in the area of maritime security. Therefore in your quest to partner other organisations and institutions, consider NIMASA as your number one partner in progress all for the growth and development of the maritime sector and the nation as a whole”, Dr. Dakuku stated.
Earlier in his remarks, the Director General of the Defence Research and Development Bureau, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Jomo Osahor, stated that before now, the various Services in the armed forces worked independently by venturing into one innovation or another, but got little results.
Accordingly, he stated that this gave rise to the establishment of the Defence Bureau comprising of the Army, Air Force and the Navy, which has given room for more co-ordinated efforts by the armed forces, thereby achieving the desired results. “It is high time we take up innovative challenges to find a solution to the country’s challenges”, AVM Osahor said.
He noted that the Bureau is willing to partner with indigenous companies that can fabricate gunboats, rather than purchasing and importing western equipment. This he said will also help the Federal Government’s quest to create job opportunities in the country, which will further stem the tide of insecurity and restiveness amongst the youths.
He equally appealed to NIMASA to join hands with the Bureau in the area of research in order to find innovative solutions to the challenges facing the country.
In the meantime, less than 14 of the nation’s 34 Free Trade Zones (FTZs) are operating, actively, the Managing Director (MD) of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Jime, disclosed at the weekend.
He told journalists in Abuja, that lack of infrastructure, especially electricity power supply, good roads and water, among others had made the FTZs unattractive to investors and that immediate steps must be taken to address the challenge.
“As at last count, we had about 34 Free Trade Zones (FTZs) but the truth is that less than 14 of the FTZs are actually operating actively. The idea of a FTZ is an environment where business can be done at less cost. “For you to be able to operate your business at less cost means that there would be certain things in the FTZs that you will not find elsewhere. We are talking of infrastructure.
There has to be power in the FTZs 24/7, otherwise it is not a FTZ. You must have water running, roads and everything a company needs for it to run at less cost. “You have got to put those incentives in place in a way that the businessman who has to take an investment decision can see that Nigeria is the preferred destination for his investment. Don’t forget that we are in a competitive environment,” he said.
The MD lamented that the high profile TINAPA in Calabar has become a stain on the nation’s capacity to do things right. He noted the challenge of investors moving to other neighbouring countries on the West Coast and urged that both state actors and private sector operators must synergise to raise investor confidence in the Nigerian economy.
He said, “Today, most foreign investors coming to Africa, the first place they think of is Ghana. That should be a critical concern for us. I hear some people say ‘Nigeria has a big market.’ Oh yes, but we should recognize that there have been partnership agreements and platforms that enable a businessman to set up his factory in Accra and be able to access the Nigerian market. He can use the ECOWAS platform. So that argument, quite frankly is defective and we must be honest with ourselves.
“This is what I think we must engage ourselves with at the policy level, that without putting our house in order, the likelihood that we will be able to attract foreign investors is very slim.”
Rt. Hon. Jime commended President Buhari for increasing the budgetary allocation to NEPZA from about N2 billion to N50 billion in the 2017 budget which has been sustained in the proposed 2018 budget to enable the organization provide massive infrastructure at the FTZs.
Additional report from Vanguard