…Presidency says Nigeria targets sub-100 ranking in Ease of Doing Business***
A cross-section of maritime stakeholders on Tuesday in Abuja have identified infrastructure deficit and non-enforcement of maritime regulations as two major challenges hampering the sector’s development.
They took the position during a dialogue organised by Integrity Organisation, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), and Action Aid Nigeria, with the theme ‘‘Nigerian Regulatory Framework in the Transport Sector.
In his speech at the forum, Dr Dakuku Peterside, Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) had fingered infrastructure deficit, corruption and lack of enforcement were major parts of maritime challenges; and argued that while the maritime sector was guided by international
Regulations, it was clear that the enforcement of such existing regulations was lacking.
“I spoke about the fact that the regulations are not the problem. It is perhaps the way we go about enforcing them. However, regulations in the maritime sector are international in nature.
“So, they are literarily the same, apart from a few areas that are different. The challenge in Nigeria therefore is how we go about the enforcement of those regulations. But people can testify that there is a lot of improvement.
“The real challenge in Nigeria is the issue of infrastructure. Our ports were built several years ago, not for the tonnes or capacity they are receiving now. Also, access roads to the ports are bad.
“Most of the ports’ infrastructures are not in place to support growth. The ports are not growing but services or the goods coming into the ports have been growing over time.
“Another problem is the issue of corruption. Nigerians must be unanimous in the fight against corruption, and we shouldn’t be selective whenever we are talking about corruption,’’ he said.
Dr Ene Obi, the Country Director of Action Aid Nigeria, who posited that Nigeria must take the issues of transport regulations seriously, tasked stakeholders to to obey the right regulations and be ready to fund the processes of such regulations.
“Nigeria’s debt profile is about 73 billion dollars. What are they spending it for? Who are they spending it on? What is the government doing with that kind of debt profile?
“If it was spent on industries, it would have been better. When we sing `Arise O Compatriots’, those leaders that are corrupt, do they actually join in the singing, or take the national pledge?
“Are we taking our National Anthem seriously? Are we taking our patriotism seriously?’’ she asked.
Mr Hassan Bello, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), agreed that one of the challenges in the ports was infrastructure deficit.
Bello, who was represented by Mrs Ifeoma Ezedema, NSC’s Director of Regulatory Service, said the Apapa Port was operating above the capacity it was initially designed for.
He, however, noted that there was the need for private investors to come into the industry, pointing out that government could not do it alone.
But despite the identified waves of corruption, infrastructural deficit and nonchalant attitude to regulatory compliance, the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) has announced a determination to pursue the goal of moving Nigeria into the top-100, on the 2020 World Bank Doing Business Index (DBI).
The Presidency in a statement said the target was disclosed at the 10th Presidential Quarterly Business Forum which was held on Monday in Abuja.
It said that the forum was attended by leading members of the organised private sector and other key stakeholders.
Also in attendance were ministers, including Industry, Trade and Investment, Finance, Budget and National Planning and Power, Works and Housing.
The statement said that Dr Jumoke Oduwole, the Secretary, PEBEC and Senior Special Assistant to the President on Industry, Trade and Investment, spoke on the sub-100 target.
“We know it is bold, but we are quite clear on what our mandate is and are motivated by the impact we know these reforms will have on the lives of Nigerians.
“This year, we intend to strengthen the collaboration with MDAs and partners to consolidate and build on the work done.
“We will be pursuing the implementation of much-needed legislative reforms, specifically the passage of the Company and Allied Matters (CAMA) and Omnibus Bills.
“The expansion of the regulatory reform programme started with NAFDAC and NAICOM to include other regulators; the establishment of a National Trading Platform for ports; and the concession of our major international airports.
“We will also continue to cascade the Ease of Doing Business(EoDB) initiatives down to the sub-national level working with the state governments, and will release the first sub-national survey report in April 2019.
“We remain firm in our conviction of the immediate and long-term benefits of the PEBEC reforms,’’ the statement quoted Oduwole as saying.
PEBEC is chaired by the Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, with the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment as Vice Chairman.
The Council has nine other ministers, Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Governor of CBN and representatives from the National Assembly and private sector as members. The DBI is an annual ranking that objectively assesses prevailing business climate conditions across 190 countries based on 10 EoDB indicators.
The Index offers comparative insights based on private sector validation of reforms delivered in the two largest commercial cities in countries with a population higher than 100 million, and the report consequently features Lagos and Kano states for Nigeria.
The World Bank has reported an improvement in Nigeria’s Distance to Frontier (DTF) score by more than 11 basis points over the past 3 years.