President Buhari underscores importance of Economic Regulator in port reforms

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari


President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday stressed the importance of having the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, NSC, as the nation’s ports economic regulator, saying the council was appointed to enhance the efficiency, competitiveness and economic viability of the maritime sector.
Buhari also called on all agencies and stakeholders to do away with all forms of corrupt practices in the sector.
The President told stakeholders made up of judges from the Supreme Court, Federal High Courts, Appeal courts, states and those from neighbouring countries who attended the maritime seminar for judges held at Sheraton Hotel, Abuja, that the reform in the nation’s ports cannot be complete without having an economic regulator.
According to him, the need for a regulator at this critical time of economic downturn has become imperative to encourage transparency in economic activities.
Buhari who was represented by the Solicitor General of the Federation, Justice Taiwo Abiboki, also said that the economic regulator was needed to enhance revenue generation and boost patronage of the seaports for import and export trade.
Calling on both judiciary and the legislature to lend their support to the reform measures for the sake of the national economy, Buhari also called on the Council as the economic regulator to come up with viable blueprints for achieving maximum exploitation of the economic potentials of the maritime industry.
The President also said that for the nation to achieve maximum productivity and efficiency in the maritime industry, there must be concerted efforts to get rid of fraudulent and corrupt practices in the sector.
“Corruption as we all know is one of the enemies of economic development. Corruption increases cost of doing business, destroys ease of doing business, distorts processes and procedures, robs government of legitimate revenue and also gives the country a bad image.
“One way of removing corruption from our economy is to have lucid, clear, simple and predicative rules governing our economic activities. Another sure way of reducing corruption is by embracing automation.
“We cannot afford to perpetuate the cases of mismanagement and squander of national resources which we have witnessed in some of our institutions in the sector. 

The time for a paradigm shift is now, and in line with our agenda for a corruption-free society, let me assure you that my administration will encourage and enforce discipline and sanity in the sector.”
The President called on the judiciary to adjudicate disputes arising from the activities of domestic and international stakeholders in the sector in a fair and equitable manner as well as in prosecuting cases arising from malfeasances in the sector.
During the event, the Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, also said that the maritime seminar for judges would now be held every year.
Amaechi made the promise as a follow-up to the request by the former Head of State, Chief Ernest Shonekan who said that the seminar for judges should be a yearly event because of its importance for the industry and the judiciary.
He said that the main objective of having maritime seminar for judges was to equip the judges and justices of Superior Courts of record as well as relevant stakeholders in the maritime industry with the basic contemporary knowledge of the complex and dynamic subject of Admiralty Law and Practice as it affects the administration of Justice in the country.
He said that the importance of quick and efficient handling of maritime matters by the nation’s courts cannot be overemphasized since in maritime commerce, time is money.
He added that the strategic partnership between the NSC and the National Judicial Institute stemmed from the recognition of the need to specially equip the judicial officers with the requisite knowledge to help facilitate expeditious dispensation of justice in maritime causes in the courts.
Shonekan who was the Chairman of the occasion commended the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and the National Judicial Institute for the collaboration to organize the seminar, describing the effort as invaluable capacity building programme for those in legal profession, particularly those in the bench and the bar, who by the demand of their profession must continue to update themselves on many areas of human endeavour.
He called on the two agencies to redouble their efforts to ensure the continuity of the seminar, adding that the problem has been how to sustain good ideas.
“By organizing the series of capacity building seminars, the judges, stakeholders and the economy have benefitted from it,” he said.
In his vote of thanks, the Executive Secretary, Mr Hassan Bello, said the reform and revitalization of the transport sector must be supported by sound, modern, lucid and dynamic legal system, commending the Transportation Minister for the support, particularly for the many intellectual endeavours.
Bello said his Council would carry out the directive of having a yearly maritime seminar for judges. 
Credit: Shipping Day