Stakeholders demand better leadership In Nigeria's Transport Sector

L-R:  The President, Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Nigeria, Mrs. Mary Hamman, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) Mr. Hassan Bello, Former Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Barr. Temisan Omatseye, the Secretary General, Abuja MoU, Barr. (Mrs.) Mfon Usoro, the Chairperson, Nigerian Ship-owners Forum, Barr. (Mrs.) Margaret Orakwusi, and the Executive Vice Chairman, ENL Consortium, Princess Vicky Haastrup; during the 2019 MMS Transport Leadership lecture and awards, organized by Kings Communications Limited in Lagos, recently.

Stakeholders in Nigeria's transport sector have called on the Federal Government to eschew politics and restrict its appointment of heads of parastatals to transport professionals, considering what they described as shortcomings in the sector.
These experts made this call during the 2019 MMS Transport Leadership lecture and awards organized by Kings Communications Limited, stressing that the position of the Minister of Transportation should also be reserved for industry experts.

Speaking at the event, a maritime lawyer, Barr. Emmanuel Nwagbara, moved a motion to demand that the forum of maritime stakeholders want a Minister who is a technocrat in the maritime sector.

“I want to move a motion that this forum of maritime stakeholders wants a Minister that is a technocrat in the maritime sector. It doesn't matter if a Minister who isn't a technocrat has already been appointed; we could designate someone for that purpose,” he said.

“Stakeholders can come up with a publication in a renowned medium like MMS Plus demanding that the industry needs a technocrat to drive the Ministry of Transportation and give meaning and focus to the maritime industry. The maritime industry is like a weeping child that needs to be consoled in the transportation sector in Nigeria. There are so many gaps and deficiencies” he added.

Meanwhile, the transport veterans also urged the Federal Government to address the numerous challenges which have made the transport environment harsh for businesses to thrive, especially with the recent signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA),

Noting that the current frosty state of the nation’s transport sector would place the country in a disadvantageous position when the implementation of AfCFTA begins, the Executive Secretary at Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) Mr. Hassan Bello, said: “Government is aware that the Nigerian transport environment is harsh as it is. The first thing is to realize that the sector is harsh and the government has realized this and it is taking deliberate steps to make sure that the environment is less harsh.”

He stated that the development of AfCFTA, which would have about 1.3 billion people affected in the $2.3 billion economy, meant African nations including Nigeria should brace up for competition and a free economy devoid of protectionism.

“Nigerian infrastructure must be rebuilt to reduce cost of production to give the nation an edge with AfCFTA. We are exploring how Nigeria can fit into this and grow its economy based on its trade, production, efficiency and infrastructure. We are talking about transport infrastructure and energy. These are two very important things that we have to concentrate on at this conference. I’m sure that there will be fireworks during the conference and the transport fraternity will bring something for the government to consider,” he said.

He observed that the organizers were able to bring key stakeholders together. “We have the terminal operators, shipping lines, government, freight forwarders, railway and aviation experts and all categories of people who contribute to this industry. The essence of coming together is to churn out policies” he added.

On his part, the Chairman of the occasion and former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Barr. Temisan Omatseye observed that the Cabotage Regime in Nigeria had failed.

He urged the industry experts saddled with the responsibility of Cabotage review under the NIMASA Joint Stakeholders committee, to work on the issue as though Cabotage was just beginning in the country.

Noting that the problems in Cabotage implementation started under his leadership, he absorbed some of the blame, “To fail is not a bad thing, you can only learn from your failures and we are learning from our failures. That is why I am going to probably say, whether I like it or not, I take blame for whatever way I have been part of the failure and I apologize for that failure. But the bottom line quite simply is, I will say it the way it is, Cabotage has failed. Let us start from today to make Cabotage work.”

Meanwhile, in the lecture titled, “Leadership In A “Next Level” Democracy: Striking A Positive Balance In Transport Sector,” the Secretary-General of Abuja Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), on Port State Control for West and Central African Region, Mrs. Mfon Usoro admonished Nigeria to find its area of advantage in the transport sector and capitalize on it.

She stressed the crucial role of leaders in ensuring that the sector’s goals are clearly outlined and all stakeholders in the public and private sector are focused on achieving the identified goals, noting that the government and the industry must work together to gather and direct resources both human and capital towards the achievement of these goals.

According to her, African countries could be popular like other leading countries in shipping business if they recognized and harnessed all the means of transportation such as road, rail, water, piping and air transportation systems.

She added that having integrated policy and linkages was the only way to make African countries a force to reckon with in global shipping business.

“There are four categories maritime nations can dominate, they are; Shipping, Maritime Finance, Maritime Logistics and Maritime Technology. China is leading under shipping, Singapore is leading in the area of maritime logistics, New York is leading in maritime finance, while South Korea is leading in terms of maritime technology. It is the country that distinguishes itself in a particular area that will gain advantage”, she said.

Noting that AfCFTA was more of an opportunity than a threat to Nigeria, she said, “AfCFTA is a positive development but for the continent and Nigeria in particular to benefit every sector has to sit up to take advantage of what we have and what we can do”

The event also featured the award of the Most Purposeful Transport Agency in 2018 to the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB). AIB had qualified for the accolade after ranking top in among fourteen transport agencies rated quarterly in 2018 by MMS Plus newspaper.

Earlier, the Chief Executive Officer, Kings Communications Limited, Mr. Kingsley Anaroke lamented that the transport sector had suffered from poor leadership over the years as the choice candidates for positions in the sector haven’t been driven by professionalism.

According to Anaroke, this problem has limited the contributions of the transport sector to national growth.

He noted that the quest to maximize the huge potentials in the sector through the right leadership or performance- based leadership capable of positioning the sector to take its critical place in the Next Level agenda of the current regime and the emerging new technology-driven transportation world gave birth to the MMS Transport Agencies’ Performance Rating  with its reward system, an award for sterling performance to spur others to action, while the lecture arm of it, the Transport Leadership Lecture is to help crystallize the philosophy of good governance.