By Stephen Ubanna
Barely, a few days for President Muhammadu Buhari to handover to Asiwaju Bola Ahme Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and the President-elect on the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, platform, the ministers are still carrying out their official duties. The Katsina state born Nigerian President had told the ministers’ penultimate week, that they must continue to come to office until May 29, 2023.
It was not surprising why Muazu Jaji Sambo, an Engineer and outgoing minister of Transportation could Commission the Skills Acqusition center established in Zaria, Kaduna state and a twin Lecture theatre donated to the state University by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, under the Leadership of Bashir Jamoh, OFR.
The Skill Acqusition centre, according to Osagie Edward, an Assistant Director and the agency spokesperson, in a statement has learning facilities Youths and Women such as Electrical, Mechanical , Sewing, Technical and Wielding among others.
An appreciative Sambo, who is very proud of Jamoh, the NIMASA, Director General, in his execution of people0oriented projects , noted that these projects are part of ‘’the legacies of the Katsina state born Nigerian President’s Administration to improve education as a basic need of for economic development ‘’.
An elated Jamoh, who could not hide his feelings over the initiate and completion of the projects in Kaduna state, noted that the NIMASA, Skill Acquisition centre, of the centres located in the north west geopolitical region.. He may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians when he disclosed that higher institutions in all the other geopolitical zones across the country are also benefitting from the agency Corporate Social – Responsibity, CSR, projects.
Hear him: Our desire is to ensure that young Nigerians acquire skills to make them self –dependent and productively engaged. The NIMASA, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, who could not hide his feelings had said that the agency are also developing such skill acquisition centres in Niger, Ibrahim Babangida, a retired Army General and former Nigeria military President , home state, Lagos, home state of Tinubu, the President –elect, Anambra, where the Nigerian President recently Commissioned the second Niger bridge, linking the south east and the south –geopolitical regions, Gombe , Bayelsa, home state of former President Goodluck Jonathan and Rivers state.The NIMASA, CEO, had said that the execution of the projects are aimed at ‘’fighting insecurity on land , which will have a multiplier effect on security in the nation’s maritime domain.
Nasir El-Rufai, a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, during Olusegun Obasanjo’s Administration and outgoing going of Kaduna state , who was said to have been represented by Ambassador Nuhu Bamali, may have used the opportunity of Commissioning the two NIMASA, projects in his state ‘’ to commend Jamoh’’ for completing it in record good time’’, assuring that ‘’the centre will be maintained for the benefit of the people’’.
He had said that ‘’the NIMASA, boss, has continued to maintain focus in ensuring that the Nigerian maritime sector takes its rightful place in the commity of maritime nations’’ over the last three years .
It is on record that on Monday, May 12, the outgoing minister had commissioned the agency five enforcement boats, four staff ferries and ultramodern world class clinic in its Apapa base in Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve centre, including a Permanent office Complex, at the FCT.
Perhaps, one agency where the outgoing minister was said to have made much impact wasin Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMWA, where he had worked for 13 years as a staff.The outgong minister was said to have used his short stint in office to embark on projects that will lead to development of the Inland water ways in Nigeria, describing it as ‘’the cheapest means of moving goods from location to another that would greatly increase the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.
The outgoing minister of Transportation may have been encouraged to embark on the new Inland water ways projects over the last nine months because the North American country of the United States , US, depend on the Inland Water Ways to move goods and services in their economy.
He had said that through the Inland Water Ways means of Transport, the country moves millions of tons cargo valued at over $90 billion annually and 60% of its Agricultural exports to other markets across the world are carried through the Inland Water Ways .
Given that Nigeria is abundantly blessed with ten thousand Kilometers of water ways, may have informed why he as paid much attention over the last nine month to the development of the nation’s Inland Waters could easily be used to move agricultural products and other minerals to the Lagos ports of Apapa, Tincan Island, Port Terminal and Multi-services Terminal Limited, PTML, an the south east ports of Onne, PortHarcourt, both located in Rivers state, Warri and Calabar pots , located in Delta and Cross river respectively..
Until his appointment as minister of Transportation in June 2022, Engr. Sambo was said to have travelled to the Asian country of China, between 2016 and 2018,at the instance of the NIWA, Management ostensibly to market the marina water fronts owned by the agency and reclaim the land to build Container terminal as well as passenger terminal for people passing through Apapa.
Giving an insider information , he noted that the marketing idea was informed by the fact that when Containers come into the Lagos ports, instead of the terminal operators and the shipping Companies discharging the Containers meant for the Onitsha market in Lagos, and transport them in barges or vessels that can transverse low droughts to the Onitsha river port to be picked by trucks for distribution in the hinterlands, it would be taken to the river port.
It was therefore not surprising that when he was appointed minister of Transportation last June by the outgoing President, he saw it as an opportunity to invest in the channel between the Baro river point to the Onitsha river port and the Warri port at the Niger river and onward connection to the Gulf of uinea for a sustainable maritime transportation route.
He was optimistic that if the projects could be completed by the ministry of Transportation while he is still in office, ‘’ it would lay a solid foundation for Navigation network that could connect the Lagos ports, Lekki Deep Seaport located in the nation’s Commercial nerve centre, with the Onitsha and Baro river ports for transportation of Containerised and non- Containerised cargoes for shipping efficiency in Nigeria.
Aware of the revenue potentials of a well -developed Inland Ways in Nigeria, as being championed by Engr. Sambo, the outgoing minister of Transportation may encouraged African Export-Impport Bank , Afreximbank, to provide a grant of $350,000 to NIMWA, and also leveraged on its partnership with the Nigerian Export-Import Bank, NIXIM , the ministry of Transportation and the Nigerian Navy under the close watch of Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, to facilitate the movement of cargoes using Navigable Water Ways in Nigeria.
The unveiling of the Navigational Charts of the Lower river Niger, project executed by Sealink Consortium in Collaboration with the Nigeria Navy, NIWA and NEXIMBank, using the $350 Afrexim bank grant speaks volume. The outgoing minister of Transportation was emphatic that the Navigational Chart project of the Lower river Niger if completed would replicate what is happening in the US, where 60% of the country’s Agricultural produce are moved through Inland Water Ways.