Proposed revival of South-South Ports: A case of cheating does not pay By Simeon Nwakaudu
On the streets of Nigeria there is a popular saying, “cheating does not part”. This saying is open to different interpretations, the most prevalent interpretation being that in the long run, it is unprofitable to continue to defraud others for selfish gains.
The situation enroute Apapa Port in Lagos is disheartening. But it is a classical case of ‘cheating does not pay.’ It is a case of the deliberate economic strangulation of other parts of Nigeria to the advantage of Lagos State.
We must be courageous to say the truth, no matter whose ox is gored. Over the years, successive economic administrators have castrated the ports in the South-South region, citing lame excuses for their actions.
Today, the consequences of their criminal manipulation is staring them in the face.
I read that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State begged the Federal Government to revive existing Ports in other states of the federation so as to bring about permanent solution to the perennial traffic congestion in the Apapa axis of the State.
Ambode’s call is premised on Lagos’ interest, not on any love for other parts of the country.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has always emphasised the need to revive the Ports in Rivers State and other parts of the South-South for the rapid growth of the region .
Reality has dawned on the Government of Lagos State and hopefully the APC Federal Government that you can not deliberately destroy the economies of other states and be in eternal bliss.
With every deliberate act of economic sabotage comes a price. For Lagos, this is the price of deliberate plots by the APC Federal Government to suffocate the South-South States.
Through ungodly policies, Ports in the South-South have been made redundant. Each time people complain, the APC Federal Government cites security challenges in the South-South. They conveniently forget that they extract oil to sustain the national economy from the South-South.
A little research on the internet gives an insight on the outstanding Port Facilities in the South-South region.
In the South-South, we have :
A: Calabar Port : This Port currently has 3 terminals namely; The New Port, The Old Port and The Dockyard and several other crude oil terminals operated by 3 terminal operators. These are INTELS Nigeria Ltd, ECM Terminal Ltd and Shoreline Logistics Nigeria.
B. Rivers Port Complex: This comprises the Port of Port Harcourt and Okrika Refined Petroleum Oil Jetty as well as Haastrup/Eagle Bulk Cement Jetty, Ibeto Jetty, Kidney Island Jetty, Macobar Jetty and Bitumen Jetty.
C. Onne Port : Onne port consists of two major facilities which are the Federal Ocean Terminal and the Federal Lighter Terminal. This Port has been designated as an Oil and Gas Free Zone.
D. Delta Port: This Port includes the ports of Warri, Sapele, Burutu and the petroleum terminals at Escravos and Forcados.
With these facilities spread across three states of the South-South, Lagos State has no reason to carry more than 40 percent of the cargo into the country.
With the infrastructural base of Rivers State and her connectivity by rail and air, the two major seaports in the state are supposed to be super-functional.
The Ports in Rivers State (Rivers Port and Onne Port) can easily service the South-East, North Central and North-East States. If you add Calabar Port and Delta Ports to these two, the aforementioned three geo-political zones will be effectively covered. That leaves Lagos Ports with South-West and North-West Geo-Political Zones.
If the Ports in the South-South are empowered to start full import and export activities, even up to 40 percent, over five million direct and indirect jobs will be created.
The economies of the entire South-South and South-East States will be positively impacted. Port Harcourt, Calabar and Warri would be centres of rapid economic expansion and Aba, Nnewi and Onitsha economies will also boom.
This will also translate to improved Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) for the South-South States. Over 50 percent of the IGR of Lagos State comes from the Ports and allied activities. The strength of that economy is tied to the Ports. The South-South States will benefit from this advantage conferred on Lagos State by the Federal Government.
Governor Wike emphasised the need for functional seaports in the South-South during the South-South/South East Governors Meeting on August 27, 2017 at the Government House Port Harcourt .
Governor Wike said: “From geo-strategic economic perspective therefore, there is an urgent need to establish and link our cities with railways and super highways; to provide viable and affordable flight services between our cities, and to ensure that cargoes are brought into the country and the regions through our seaports, jetties and ferry services as a veritable means of stimulating economic growth and social progress across our two regions.”
It is only in this part of the world that the Federal Government deliberately takes actions to cripple the epicentre of her economy.
All through the three years of this failed APC Federal Government, the few contracts in the transportation sector have been targeted at Lagos. Lagos-Ibadan standard guage rail-line, expansion of Lagos -Ibadan expressway and now the direct intervention of the presidency to address the Apapa gridlock.
There was the same gridlock on the Onne-Eleme section of the East-West Road. This lasted for weeks. There was no intervention from the Presidency. Governor Wike had to mobilise private companies along that route to fund the remedial measures that have kept the route manageable. This was done in partnership with the Rivers State Government.
Needless to say that the failed APC Federal Government has abandoned the East-West road and the Port-Harcourt-Enugu Dual Carriageway has become a point for pictorial propaganda for this failure of a Federal Government.
Now that it has dawned on the APC leadership that they cannot continue to destroy the economies of sister states, this is the time to act.
Since Governor Ambode of Lagos State has joined his brother Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike to canvass for the revival of South-South seaports, the APC Federal Government should for the first time be decent in her approach to governance. They should, as a matter of urgency, re-direct cargo traffic to this zone.
In Rivers State, Governor Wike, anticipating a time like this, has improved the infrastructural base to carry the weight of expected development.
The excuse of insecurity is no longer applicable. As I write, despite slight security challenges, the South-South Geo-Political Zone is one of the most secure in Nigeria today. It is free from Fulani herdsmen, Boko Haram, Militancy and Banditry. The little security lapses that come up are easily contained.
That is why expatriates and Nigerian technocrats drill oil on a daily basis in the South-South to sustain the national economy. Each time FAAC is shared, Nigerians must appreciate that the peace and quiet in the South-South made it possible.
Aside the revival of the South-South Ports to free Lagos of excess economic fat, there is the immediate need to implement the Presidency’s directive to all oil majors to relocate their headquarters to the Niger Delta where they are extracting oil and negatively impacting the environment.
It is ungodly that Niger Delta suffers the pangs of childbirth, while Lagos reaps the benefits of the baby. These oil majors pay taxes to Lagos State Government, but pollute the South-South States.
For every generation, an opportunity comes for restitution. The confession of Governor Ambode provides the platform for restitution. It gives the failed APC Federal Government the opportunity to act rightly and empower the people of the South-South.
Cheating does not pay. It only generates unnecessary developmental crisis as witnessed in Lagos State. You cannot continue to suppress a people. As long as you hold them down, so long you will remain on the floor with them. Nigeria is down because of deliberate acts of political and economic robbery by the APC Federal Government . The crippling of South-South Ports is one of such acts.