The Federal Government can make about $16 billion yearly if the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) explores markets in West Africa and embarks on trade facilitation programmes that will boost exports.
The NPA needs to synergise with companies such as UAC, Unilever and others to realise this objective.
The Chief Public Relations Officer, Calabar Port, Chijioke Ukadike, in a presentation to NPA Managing Director Ms. Hadiza Usman and three Executive Directors (EDs), who visited the port last week, said if NPA ups its ante to contribute at least five per cent to the imports of each of the 16 coastal countries, “then we shall be looking at injecting over $16 billion into the nation’s economy annually, and this is beside revenues from port charges.”
Relying on data from the World Fact Book of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Ukadike said the 17 countries lying along the West/Central Africa coastlines up to southern Africa had an estimated total import value of $324.88 billion as at 2014.
A breakdown showed that Nigeria contributes 11.7 per cent to Senegalese import; 23 per cent to Cote d’Ivoire, 11 per cent to Ghana and 19 per cent to Cameroon.
He said NPA should encourage agriculture and food production, such as palm oil, groundnuts, cocoa and other items for export to other regional countries. Ghana, he noted, recently overtook Nigeria in yam export, wondering what has happened to the famous Ogoja yam.
Ukadike said Indonesia is the world’s highest producer of palm oil; producing 33.5 million tonnes from over six million hectares of palm plantation, adding that palm oil constitutes 11 per cent of Indonesia’s export earnings of $5.billion.
“Many of us do not know that palm oil is an essential ingredient in the production of many types of chocolates, chewing gums, lipstick, washing powder, doughnuts soaps and other items,” Ukadike said, adding that young people must seek to build their capacity in maritime competence so as to take full advantage of the Cabotage Law, which gives exclusive provision for Nigerian owned and manned vessels along our coast.
Ms.Adiza, while addressing reporters after the presentation, said NPA would soon commence the recruitment of younger professionals into the service in view of its ageing officers. She admitted that there is a lot of skills and knowledge that need to be transferred before over 50 per cent of NPA’s officers will proceed on retirement as from next year.
Ms. Usman said the agency would embark on the recruitment drive and look at the organisational structure to determine how the recruitment would be carried out. “We met an arrangement on ground concerning the decision to recruit as the present workforce is ageing.
“We want to recruit specialists, mariners, critical operational staff. These are those positions that we will be targeting. We encourage every member of the public to be on the look-out,” she said.
The 10-year old port concession agreement, according to her, is due for review, adding: “We would reach out to the ICRC and they would be part of the review.”
She said many agencies, including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) are indebted to the NPA, adding that the management would proceed aggressively to recover all the debts.