Dr Eugene Nweke (Immediate past president, NAGAFF)Virtually all the maritime sector bills are executive bills, that means that the bills are sponsored by the executives. What it then means, is that, if a prompt sector development driven ministry of transport under the supervision of a passionate minister sits up, deploying its agencies into doing the needful by rising to the occasion and liaising with the Presidential Liaison Officer to the National Assembly, the passage of all maritime bills will be a thing of the past. So, the onerous task of the quickest passage of the Maritime Bills resides within the pragmatism of the executives. But like someone stated, at recent workshop, there seems to be indirect invested political interest playing the insider trading and protecting the interest of some cartels, who felt threatened by the emergence and passage of the bills, those hidden interest who are beneficial to and prefers the present status quo. However, it gladdens the heart, to note the renewed zeal, vigour and commitment with which members of the different committees of the NASS are presently attending to the bills, for a quicker passage. If the same noticeable zeal has been deployed in the past four years, by now, the industry would have gathered momentum.
Chidi Ilogu, SAN (Maritime Lawyer)The process for amending laws could be rather cumbersome and time-consuming, what tends to happen is that position papers have to be presented, issues have to be debated at the National Assembly, and more often than not, the National Assembly would need to be guided on parameters that these laws are meant to cover. For example, there have been arguments on the piracy bill and what amounts to piracy within the Nigerian maritime domain, and we find that a good number of issues need to be addressed in a proper legislation. Though some draft bills of these laws have been presented, but they are not making much progress as at now, the bills need to be hastened to that level where they are finalised at the National Assembly, the public hearings should be dully concluded so that all the interest elements are taken care of. Once all these are done, there is no reason we should continue to have delays in passing these laws.
Adedoyin Afun (Maritime Lawyer)I think we need to look at all the bills currently before the National Assembly and find out how relevant they are; also, are they an overlap of existing laws that we can just amend in line with what the current realities are, or probably we need to merge some of these bills together. For example, the PIB has gone on for years, they realised they cannot run it all at once so they have broken it down, we can as well look at these laws cogently, are they actually relevant? If they are, we can now have a stakeholders’ event to let them understand that these laws are already in place and these are the benefits and its impact on the society, from there we go and send it to the National Assembly, this would further hasten the passage and give them a holistic perspective of what the intent of the law is, otherwise, waiting through the whole procedure of law making which would require them to have stakeholders’ hearing, we can actually move from forward to the end.In my personal opinion, some of the bills are not necessary; some of them are just creation of new agencies which are not necessary.
Dr. Farinto Collins (ANLCA Spokesman)The lawmakers have the people's mandate, so I believe it is their responsibility to pass these bills into law, they equally have the wherewithal to pass the bills, although passing of bills is not easy, even the ones that have been passed have not been signed by the President and this might be the reason why the lawmakers are reluctant with the maritime bills. I like their style this time around. To hasten up the bills, I don't think there is anything that can be done.
Rev. Jonathan Nicole (President, Shippers Association Lagos State) When it comes to laws, you don't pressurise anybody to pass any law without due course to the after-effect of that law, so the Senate I believe is taking their time to study the pros and cons as well as the after-effect of the laws on maritime trade. I am very sure that government is also concerned about our old laws, and we should not pressurise the Senate to jump into conclusions, they need to study the law line-by-line because it affects human life, we would want them to make a law that will be progressive. Laws are not even supposed to be changed like the way you wash your face in the morning without you looking at the weather, some of the laws are old and this is why the lawmakers would have to break it down to meet current trend in the international market. So if you are changing the law, the law must also take care of international trade within our local environment.
Akanni Balogun (Customs broker)The bills have been with the lawmakers for a long time and they know that truly if the bills are not passed, port operations would not go effectively, they know these things, but they also know why they are not passing the bills into law, on the part of the stakeholders, they have all put in their views, it is just for the lawmakers to harmonise these views and pass the law, but rather they still chose to delay the bills, it is part of why Shippers’ Council and other agencies cannot operate effectively, the Council is supposed to regulate the concessionaires and shipping companies, but because of some of these bills they are still being incapacitated. What stakeholder can do is to continue to talk and pressurise them which we have been doing.
Seun Olukanni (Nigerian Institute of Shipping)We just have to keep making the government aware of what we want in the maritime industry. The media is also key in carrying out awareness and public sensitization. However, we need to give the lawmakers some time, let them study the bill properly.