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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Natufe To Tinubu: It Makes No Sense To Concentrate Nigeria’s Import-Export Business In Lagos Seaports

...Says Sapele seaport completely abandoned, Calabar, Koko, Port Harcourt, and Warri seaports left to rot, and severely underutilized

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By Henry Ovie

 

….Tells Oborevwori, Dafinone, other Delta top government officials what to do

President General of Okpe Union, Prof Igho Natufe has expressed concern about the concentration of seaports in Lagos.

“From the perspective of the Okpe Nation and the Niger Delta region, the concentration of seaports around Lagos grants overwhelming power to the Yoruba and the entire South West region of Nigeria.”

Natufe spoke at the 94th anniversary of the Okpe Union in Lagos.

“It is baffling that imports from Asian countries are directed to Lagos ports, when Calabar, Port Harcourt, Sapele, and Warri seaports are closer to Asia than Lagos. This phenomenon clearly demonstrates an over balance of power problematic which we need to address in Nigeria, if restructuring is to be taken seriously.”

He charged President Bola Tinubu to revive Sapele, Calabar, Koko, Port Harcourt, and Warri ports.

“Sapele seaport, a natural seaport, which was second to Lagos before the military coup of January 15, 1966, has been completely abandoned, while Calabar, Koko, Port Harcourt, and Warri seaports have been left to rot, and severely underutilized.”

He lamented the concentration of seaports in the South-West geo-political zone.

”While political leaders of the Yoruba Nation have used their access to power to monopolize the concentration of seaports in their region, it must be stressed that this monopoly has caused a grave disequilibrium in access to power on the distribution of seaports in the Niger Delta region, including the Sapele seaport. It makes no sense to concentrate Nigeria’s import-export business in only the Lagos seaports.

The renowned scholar, activist and author described the performance of Okpe politicians as poor.

“It must be acknowledged that, since the establishment of Delta State in 1991, Okpe political leaders have performed very poorly in attracting businesses to Okpe Nation. Their access to power has not led to infrastructural development in Okpe Nation, compared for example, the achievements of Isoko political leaders in Isoko Nation. In fact, the Isoko Nation has debunked the argument that you need a governor of your ethnic nationality to develop your region. The Isoko political and traditional leaders conscientiously utilize their access to power to benefit their constituencies while, sadly, their Okpe counterparts are primarily concerned about their respective pockets.”

He listed the plans of the Okpe Union towards repositioning the Okpe Nation.

“Okpe Union shall continue its advocacy of investments in Okpe Nation, including reaching out to the Delta State Government on this important subject. We shall intensify our lobbying of both the Federal and State governments to ensure the revival of Sapele seaport and the attraction of industries to Okpe Nation. We shall utilize the extensive experience of Okpe nationals, especially those in the Diaspora, to identify prospective investors to invest in Okpe Nation, under the framework of a public-private partnership (PPP).”

To address the worrisome situation in Delta State, Natufe urged Governor Sheriff Oborevwori to improve the infrastructural deficits in Delta State, especially in Okpe Nation, make the environment attractive to foreign and domestic investors.

An environment where an investor has to provide electricity, water, and good roads is hardly conducive for economic growth and development”.

He underscored that Okpe Union must continue to instil positive change in Okpe Nation, by liaising with other Okpe organizations on the strategies for development.

The former university don also spoke on banditry, terrorism and kidnapping.

The fragility of the Nigerian state is aggravated by the insecurity in the country. We call on the federal government to take immediate actions to evacuate Fulani herdsmen, bandits and terrorists from the territories of the indigenous ethnic nationalities across Nigeria. While we advocate for the unity of Nigeria, we strongly believe that the unity can only be strengthened if it is anchored on the principles of justice, fairness and equity, serving the interests of the indigenous ethnic nationalities in the country.”

He mentioned other ways of addressing the country’s challenges.

“We are facing an existential crisis in Nigeria. A resolution of this crisis requires inputs from all indigenous ethnic nationalities at a round table conference, if the National Assembly proves incapable of producing a renewed federalism of the 1963 variant. If not properly handled, the current crisis can lead to unwanted confrontations between ethnic nationalities with severe consequences for Nigeria. It is on record that the Hausas have given the Fulanis an ultimatum to vacate their territories.”

Natufe also expressed the commitment of the Okpe Nation to work with other ethnic nationalities in restructuring the Nigerian edifice to guarantee the safety of all indigenous ethnic nationalities, on the basis of justice, fairness and equity.

“We, Okpe, have no secessionist intentions. But, we recognize that the Nigerian edifice is cracked and haemorrhaging. We are committed to working with other ethnic nationalities in restructuring the Nigerian edifice to guarantee the safety of all indigenous ethnic nationalities, on the basis of justice, fairness and equity, where our rights are recognized and protected under a renewed federal constitution. However, if by omission or commission, the Nigerian edifice disintegrates, we pray it is via the velvet model of Czechoslovakia and not via the Yugoslav variant.”

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