Ignorance could be worse than illiteracy in legislative duties and policy drafting because illiteracy is pardonable especially when originally established. But ignorance is a cheap excuse that is very expensive and therefore not pardonable. Unfortunately, this is where 90 percent of the nation’s political class find themselves. This explains the parlous leadership condition the electorates are made to contend with.
In leadership, a good leader is a pathfinder who understands the path being threaded in order to guide his or her followers. And since the return of democratic regime in 1999, Nigerians have always had lawmakers and policy makers whose duties are at variance with their areas of expertise. More often than not, irreclaimable years are wasted on trials and errors which end up being the compass.
One critical sector of the economy which has had overdose of this oddity is the transport sector. There are many square pegs on round holes, a situation so apologetic that even the dumb now speaks out against, while the cautious ones have thrown caution to the wind. Reminiscing on his 70 years of sojourn on earth and over 30 years in service, the former Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Chief Adebayo Sarumi lamented the invasion of this ugly trend in the transport sector.
Many of the legislations guiding the activities in the industry are defective because they were drafted with thick layers of ignorance on the part of the lawmakers. With barely nine months to the end of the current legislative circle, four key legislations(Bills) meant to help place the industry on good standing are still gathering dust at the National Assembly. There are: The Nigerian Railway Authority Bill; National Transport Commission Bill; Port and Harbour Bill and National Inland Waterways Authority Bill.
Obviously, the lawmakers lack the knowledge and grip required to appreciate the relevance of these bills to the nation. This is a major setback that has ignited a renaissance in the transport sector, especially the maritime industry.
Consequently, many operators in the maritime industry have thrown their hat into the political ring to help salvage the sector. They are: Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho; Chief Chris Asoluka; Mrs. Ify Akerele-Anazonwu; Prince Olayiwola Shittu and Mrs. Promise Anaroke.
Capt. Iheanacho is a business activist and entrepreneur whose footprints in the maritime, oil and gas sectors are very visible. A former Minister of Interior and the Chief Executive Officer of Integrated Oil and Gas Limited and Genesis Worldwide Shipping, Iheanacho was driven by the passion to navigate change in the sector when he opted for ministerial appointment.
He badly wanted the position of a Transport Minister but lost out in the bid. Everybody relied on his intelligence and depth of knowledge of the industry. Although he left the Goodluck Jonathan’s cabinet unceremoniously, he is bent on becoming the next Governor of Imo State under All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) party. He could use the vantage position of a governor to drive changes that can advance his business empire.
Chief Asoluka is the current Chairman, Board of Directors of Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority. A former Customs officer, former Commisioner in Imo State and an unfortunate member of former President Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida’s dairachical National Assembly.
He has over the years garnered knowledge of the industry that he is being reckoned with as a resource person, with good delivery finesse. Asoluka is slugging it out on senatorial ground in Owerri under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). His presence in the National Assembly could guarantee quick passage of some of the industry related legislations.
Akerele-Anazonwu is the Director General of Nigerian Chamber of Shipping (NCS), and has served for ten years. She had earlier held the position of a Director General of Institute of Directors (IOD) Nigeria. She is contesting for the position of House of Representatives in Onitsha, Anambra State under PDP.
She equally led a group of professional women in the maritime industry known as Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA –Nigeria). Her years of romance with the realities of the sector and who-is-who must have positioned her for this ambition. But can she make a difference in the hallowed chambers?
A lot of industry watchers responded in the affirmative. What are her legacies in NCS as she quits the stage for politics? Akerele –Anazonwu has answers for this next month September 18th, 2014 at her campaign’s fund raising ceremony.
Prince Shittu is the National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA). He contested for the position of House of Representatives in 2011 under a relatively unknown party, but made a surprising mark in his Constituency in Lagos. Knowledgeable in freight forwarding practice, Shittu was the eye of the Prof. Sylvester Monye’s led port reform committee.
His being in the National Assembly will ignite the maritime industry. With his return as President of ANLCA, leaving a track record of achievements, Shittu is eyeing the legislative position again. The industry needs his experiential volcano at the House.
Mrs. Anaroke is a Senior Manager, Aulic Nigeria Ltd, co-operators of Multi-Logistics
Terminal at Lagos International Trade Fair Complex. She is the Lagos State Co-ordinator of PDP E-Women Network, as appointed by Amb. (Dr) Kema Chikwe, National Women Leader, PDP.
Mrs. Anaroke is the current Assistant Public Relations Officer (PRO) of WISTA-Nigeria. Her exposure in the transport sector is internally transforming and could be externally impacting as she jumps into the political ring as Enugu State House of Assembly candidate under PDP. While she will play her legislative and representative functions, the transport sector will remain paramount in her mind.
It is absurd that the South- east states are still very ignorant of the opportunities that abound in the transport sector, especially the maritime industry. Among the five states in the South-east, only Ebonyi State has signed on the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) developed by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA).
Over 2,500 seafarers are being trained abroad for various seafaring disciplines. Out of this, only 18 candidates from Ebonyi State are part of them, leaving room for the cry of marginalization in the near future. Can she drive the change in the Eastern states? Yes, with her network of women in shipping and Logistics, as well as enterprise developers, Enugu will catch maritime cold.
Whether there is hope for the industry tomorrow will depend on the measure of support the stakeholders are willing to offer. The belief among a lot of people spoken to on this is that the industry has suffered neglect from the legislative and policy bounty-hunters in the corridors of power, and therefore the transport industry-grown lawmakers and policy makers cannot afford to betray the trust reposed in them.