Oyetola to Reps: $1.1b Needed to Boost Reinvestment In Nigerian Ports

Oyetola to Reps: $1.1b Needed to Boost Reinvestment in Nigerian Ports

Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola has said that for Nigeria ports to meet the expected service delivery, about 1.1 billion dollars will be required for a reinvestment in the nation’s port.

The minister assured that his ministry has already started the process of envisioning a major reinvestment in the port system to enable a better service delivery that is commensurate with the image of Nigeria and the level of international business that is required.

Oyetola, who appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Privatisation on Thursday also maintained that no loss has been recorded at the port as claimed by the Committee chairman Ibrahim Hamisu.

Mr. Hamisu recently said that the poor handling of the concession process at the port had led to the five companies operating for three years without renewal of their operating licences which he claimed resulted in the loss of huge revenue to the federal government.

The minister who was summoned to defend the allegation elaborated on the issue of concession, said that the present agreement between the government and concessionaires was unacceptable as it falls below the required standard.

The former Osun state governor added that the concessioning of the ports was being delayed to allow the government conclude its reinvestment plan and reconstruct the ports to meet the required standard.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Oloruntola Micheal, the minister said that the current situation at the port does not meet the required standard, adding that investment quatum that is expected to be invested in the port will require a major rethink of the concessioning of the ports.

“The government required about 1.1 billion dollars reinvestment in the nation’s port before renewing the concession agreement of the ports.

“As a result of that, the Ministry, in concert with the agency, the NPA in particular has begun a process of reinvestment package for the port.
It means that the Ministry must factor into whatever relevant concessions that have to be made into that larger vision or else, we may progress further in error and put that reinvestment plan at risk.

“It must be put on record that what you have as a proposal which has been stalled is yet to be given approval by government and has been considered by the ministry to fall below the expected threshold both in terms of revenue and in terms of investment. The ministry is expectant that it will be able to conclude investment plan and bring on board necessary modalities for the consideration of these concessions”.

Responding to questions, he said: “The extension alluded to expired before May 29, 2023 and that was before the coming of this government. The Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy which was created by this government has taken steps to review what it met on ground and what we have is not acceptable.

“Anybody who wishes our ports systems better will ask for something different. A major reinvestment is necessary, and the Ministry does not want to truncate the plan for that major reinvestment on the altar of commitment to this agreement.

“There is nothing in that agreement that says Nigeria must renew. It is not at my level that the decision will be taken. The decision and process of review will be taken, but the larger interest of government, the people of Nigeria, the port system is over riding.

“We are making earnest steps to finish the arrangements to secure funding for this reinvestment. The terms of those funding will be factored into whatever agreement that we must sign because the lenders will lend to us on terms we must agree to and so, we must do one before the other.

“The operators at the port are still running and paying revenue to government on the basis of the agreement that expired. So, the government is not losing any revenue and the operators have not been displaced. If the interest to do what is right is uppermost, then no status quo should be ruffled.

“The stand of the Ministry is that we must finish the arrangement of major reinvestment in the interest of the port and the better interest of the country. As soon as it possible, that is what we have to do. What we may do is to grant short term extension to cover for the time that is required.

“Our focus is on the larger goal which is the reinvestment. Under the previous agreement, NPA has the responsibility to fix the infrastructure at the port. If you want to do port reinvestment, these are long term investment and cannot be based on short term because of the quantum of resources that are required.

“We are on the same page with our agency. Our larger goal remain sacrosanctand is in the better interest ot even those who may operate the ports. What we prefer are investors and concessionaires who meet the required standard. What is on the table is to consider short term renewal while we make plans to conclude the reinvestment arrangements.

“We are not going to seat back and allow the untold to happen. Mr President has deposited the biggest political will in this sector by creating a dedicated ministry for this sector. We must show results and that is what the ministry and it’s agencies have resolved to do.

“We are not resisting renewing this agreement. We are only saying allow the ministry to put in place a reinvestment plan for the port in the better interest of Nigeria, the port system and Nigeria at large.

“The Ministry is saying it should be allowed to do what is right and just. The port requires a major reinvestment beyond what we have witnessed in the last decade or more. That is more important than what is being taunted,” he said.