Renowned economist; Prof. Pat Utomi has reiterated that, if well harnessed, the maritime industry has the potential to give Nigeria 20 times more revenue than oil.
Prof. Utomi while speaking during a two-day strategic management retreat of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) in Lagos over the weekend stated that the maritime sector needs retraining as the bases for rebuilding the nation’s economy.
Utomi noted that agencies in the maritime sector still work in silos and as such, have not been able to achieve much; he said that the staff of the various maritime agencies need to be sensitive to what they do, stressing that they play sensitive roles in building the nation.
Utomi informed that he led the transformation of the NPA 32 years ago, when he chaired the TCPC committee for commercialization of NPA in 1982, even as he added that world leading economists are focusing on the concept of ocean facing cities as bolt drivers for the world economy.
“I lead the transformation in this place 32 years ago, I led the TCPC committee for commercialization of Nigeria Port Authority in 1988; today in the world, leading economist are focusing on the concept of ocean facing cities as bolt drivers in fact Prof. Paul Kuli who is one of the leading authorities in the world at Oxford when he came to speak in Lagos in 2017, talked about this concept and Ambode who was then Governor, was sitting there Ambode then invited him back to give the 50th anniversary lecture that year”, he recalled.
“So the whole maritime sector in Nigeria needs retraining, because that can only be the base for rebuilding Nigeria’s economy, because they still work in silos, NPA running around, trying to increase how much it collects, NIMASA also running around to also do so and so. No, we have a maritime and the maritime can give this country 20 times more revenue than oil and this is what we need to focus on”, he said.
Also speaking at the retreat the acting Managing Director of NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko, urged the staff of the agency to go beyond rhetoric to churn out implementable strategies aimed at making the NPA equal to the exigencies of the very competitive age and sector that they operate in.
He said the NPA, under this management is being positioned for greater efficiency, safety and accountability, adding that these are the essential factors that determine the prospects and capacity to garner greater market shares.
While pointing out that some of the efforts being made can be gleaned from the infrastructural renewal and expansion, the introduction of barge operations, automation of transit (e-call up), improvement in the sources of revenue and collections, plugging income leakages and reducing overhead costs, elimination of monopolistic conduct among others.
He explained that these initiatives have laid the groundwork for some milestone achievements with great potential for more as some of the reforms continue to transform into successes evidenced by improved cargo throughput and revenue growth.
Underscoring the importance of the retreat, the NPA boss said the authority’s vision of becoming the leading port in Africa is achievable, but said there is need to match the vision with strategy stating that a vision without a strategy remains an illusion.
He further said the drive towards attaining the compliance status for Quality Management System (ISO 9001), Environment Management System (ISO 14001) as well as Occupational Health & Safety Management System (ISO 45001) is no fluke, stating that all hands must be on deck to make it a reality.
Speaking also, the country Director, Renner and Renner Consulting Ltd, Ibby Iyama, the organizers of the retreat, inform that there is need for paradigm shift in the way things are done in the NPA, while expressing shock that the agency has not had a retreat in the last 13 years.
While stating that there is need to change the way the agency works, as customers over the years have been dissatisfied by their services, she lamented that an organization like NPA ought to have been ISO- certified, pointing out that countries like Ghana and Togo are already certified.
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“First of all, I was surprise that for 13 years they (NPA) have not heard a management strategic retreat, you know organizations are dynamic, the advent of COVID 19 have made a lot of changes; it was inevitable, NPA cannot continue to work the way they are working, primary or paramount decision is the customer services”, she said.
Customers are very unhappy with NPA, you bring your container in, with the intention of even making N50,000 and you don’t achieve that, this is the common problem and its very painful, and the truth is some people have done nothing about it, and everybody have been pointing accusing fingers and blaming everybody, and I said no you just don’t have a system you can’t keep pointing accusing fingers, you don’t even have a strategic plan, Benin Togo, Cotonou are all ISO certified, you just don’t want to, and management felt we need to do something, so that’s why we are here, the status quo can’t continue we must redefine and review why we didn’t attain it” she said.
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