Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has called for the privatisation of the maritime institutions in the country.
He made the call at the opening of a two-day maritime stakeholders’ conference hosted by the Ministry of Transportation and its agencies in Lagos on Monday.
Obasanjo said, “The institutions that are important in the country, which have not worked, we have to make them work. We can use the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas company as a model.
“We should look into these areas and think outside of the box. Until the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency became a place where people stole money, nobody knew much about it.
Now, everybody wants to work there. Look at the National Inland Waterways Authority, the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron and the Nigeria Ports Authority, which we tried to privatise. These are institutions we can make to work.”
He expressed regrets over the reported mismanagement of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in the last few years.
He said, “I was instrumental to the reform and establishment of the NNPC from the Nigerian National Oil Corporation.
Had I known that it would be mismanaged, I would have done something better. I would have privatised it and put it on the stock Exchange.
“The NLNG didn’t go the way of the NNPC because of the way it was organised. Fifty-one per cent is owned by private investors, both foreign and indigenous, while 49 per cent is owned by the government. In fact, the NLNG has been making money ever since the initial capital investment. From three trains, we are going to seven trains.”
Obasanjo recalled that the Nigerian National Shipping Line failed because of lack of commitment and professionalism, as well as corruption.
“Whatever we deliberate on at this conference, we don’t need another NNSL or an agency like the Nigerian Airways. Our experiences with such were heart-breaking,” he added.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said that plans were on for the re-establishment of a national shipping line, and described the absence of a national carrier as a mockery of the country’s status as the largest economy in Africa.
“If we are to build a sustainable maritime industry in Nigeria, then public-private partnership in my view is a credible option for building the necessary collaboration that will enable Nigeria to take advantage of its enormous potential,” the minister said.
Amaechi called for the re-examination of the implementation guidelines of the Cabotage Act, with the aim of enhancing indigenous participation in ship building and acquisition.
“Nigeria cannot hope to become a regional and global maritime power without first been able to dominate its inland maritime trade.
All stakeholders must rise above personal aggrandizement to establish national consensus that will impose Nigeria’s supremacy as a regional hub,” he added.