By Godfrey Bivbere and Providence Adeyinka
A MARITIME expert has said that for Nigerian Port Process Manual, NPPM, to be seen as a document of high value beyond the paper on which it was printed, its initiators and drivers must continually practice an all inclusive implementation mode devoid of personal interest and overbearing influence of government agency.
The expert, National President, Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, Iju Nwabunike, said it is a shameful and backward trend that almost all the government agencies operating in the port are complicit in corrupt acts one way or the other.
A statement from Nwabunike stated: “Since the manual itself and the ports economic regulator (Nigerian Shippers Council) that is to implement it are not backed by any law, except by executive fiat, it is important that its provisions are not in conflict with any extant law governing our maritime activities.
“The process of making Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC, a stronger economic regulator by an Act of the National Assembly should be activated and expedited. In tackling insecurity, government should deliberately engage youths of coastal communities close to the Gulf of Guinea in fighting maritime crimes in a manner similar to the Civilian Joint Task Force, JTF, it is presently deploying in fighting insurgency and terrorism in the North East part of the country.
“Interventionist organisations such as Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Presidential Amnesty Office and other similar bodies could be contracted as first line of communication with the youths to make piracy, sea robberies, kidnapping of crew members and attack on ships less attractive and difficult to carry out as indigent youths will be enlisted into the fight against these maritime crimes.”
Additiinally, he said that individual and corporate attitudinal changes are also very crucial for a more robust inter ministerial interface in making the NPPM work better, faster and more seamlessly
“Most of the agencies of government operating in our ports are under different ministries with various chains of command. In this regard the transport ministry should seek and sustain support of other ministries such as health, trade, internal affairs, agriculture, police affairs,justice and others to enjoy counterpart support of other ministers .
“The NPPM is in itself not an end but a means to an end which should be flexible and adjustable with time in line with current realities. At ANLCA where I lead as National President, we have a resolve to support government in achieving its laudable objectives for setting up the NPPM.
“We should critically pursue solutions to the problems of security on our waters, strengthen our use of technology for faster and more secured system as well as resolving to pursue national interest beyond personal gains.
“When people don’t get punished for corruption, tendencies are that they will come back to commit the same ‘profitable’ crime over and over again. Meeting illegality with stiff sanction is the way to go,” he said.