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Stakeholder Laments Infrastructure Deficit In Maritime Industry

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The Executive Vice Chairman of SIFAX Group, Dr Taiwo Afolabi, has urged the Federal Government to provide solutions to the huge infrastructure deficit in the maritime sector.
He said that effective resolution of the infrastructure deficit would facilitate the implementation of the Executive Order on Ease of Doing Business.
Afolabi, a terminal operator, made the plea at the Annual Maritime Conference held on Friday.
The Tide source reports that, the Executive Order came from the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to facilitate trade.
“The huge infrastructure deficit has led to deplorable access roads, faulty cargo scanner, non-existent rail system, non-functional truck bay and others which conspired to negatively impact on the service delivery efficiency.
“These challenges are the major reasons we gathered today to address, because our sector cannot continue to reel under the burden of infrastructural decay if we want to contribute meaningfully to the economy and fulfil the industry’s potential.
“I commend the efforts of the Federal Government in reforming the maritime industry, especially with the Executive Order signed by the Acting President.
“It is an acknowledgment of the fact that things must be done differently.
“However, infrastructure deficit would negate the good intentions of the government if the problems listed above are not strategically and urgently addressed,” he said.
Afolabi said that one of the key objectives of the conference was to promote the culture of intellectual discourse in the country’s maritime industry.
According to him, the conference was organised to address issues affecting the industry with the support of stakeholders such as clearing agents, shippers, investors and workers as well as the community.
He said that, the United Nations had compelled the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), its affiliate responsible for regulating the global maritime industry.
Afolabi said that over 90 per cent of world’s trade was transported by sea, stressing that maritime industry was strategic to maritime nations in terms of its contributions to the economic growth and development of nations.
He said that the contributions of the sector to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) were still low when compared with its huge potential and opportunities.
The Chairman of the occasion, Mrs Margaret Onyema-Orakwusi,  who is the Chairman of Ship Owners Forum, described the maritime industry as a big source of revenue for the economy.
“Maritime is an industry that accommodates different occupations and that is why we need to accommodate other departments to enable them find solutions to the problems in the industry.
“I am asking Afolabi to expand the conference to accommodate other departments to understand maritime operations and solve the problem of accessing loans in the maritime industry,” Onyema-Orakwusi said.
Ms Hadiza Usman, the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, commended the SIFAX boss and acknowledged the contributions the conference had made to  the industry.
Usman, who was represented by Mr Stanley Yitnoe, Assistant General Manager, Business Desk of NPA, said that he had also created numerous awareness of the important of maritime industry in the Nigerian economy.
She commended Afolabi for his resourcefulness in constantly improving the business at the ports in spite of the recent downturn in the economy.
“Afolabi is indeed a great example for youths to emulate.
“The port industry had witnessed significant improvements in port infrastructure  and revenue generation since the concession of Nigerian ports to private operators in 2006,” she said.
Usma said that there was the need for extensive infrastructure overhaul and promised that NPA would bring out the much-desired change to actualise government’s development goals.
Retired Major Henry Afolabi, the Executive Director, SIFAX Haulage & Logistics Ltd., expressed concern about inadequate and decaying port access roads and neglect of inter-modalism.
“The current bad state of port access roads calls for concern, especially the two ports in Lagos which received over 70 per cent of the total cargo throughout in the country.
“The bad state of the port access roads in Lagos has impacted adversely on human health especially port users,” Ajetunmobi said.
NMASA boss, Dr Dakuku Peterside, said the agency would continue to safeguard the country’s territorial waters.
Peterside, represented by Mr Anthony Ogabi, a Director in NIMASA, said that NIMASA would work to gain back the Category `C’ position which Nigeria lost in the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
He said that the agency had a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nigerian Navy to stop piracy attacks in the country’s territorial waters which had given room for more ships to call in Nigerian Ports.

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Stakeholders Meet To Assess Nigeria’s Preparedness For AFCFTA

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Stakeholders are expected to converge in Lagos today to take a look at the Nigeria’s preparedness to maximize the gains of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). 
The Tide learnt that stakeholders will be converging at the instance of a popular online newspaper, Primetime Reporters, to assess the progress made so far by the Federal Government through the National Action Committee on AfCFTA agreement.
The event which is the Third Annual Lecture and Awards of the online medium has as its theme: “Assessing Nigeria’s Preparedness to Maximize the Gains of AfCFTA.” 
The event will also witness conferment of awards on eight eminent Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in various fields of human endeavours.
The Managing Director/Editor-In-Chief of Primetime Reporters, Mr. Saint Augustine Nwadinamuo, made this known in a statement made available to The Tide in Lagos on Monday.
According to him, the event will hold at the National Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Kofo Abayomi Street, Victoria Island, Lagos beginning from 10.00am.
Nwadinamuo said that the event would be chaired by a renowned legal practitioner, Barr. Osuala Emmanuel Nwagbara of the Maritime and Commercial Law Partners, Lagos, while the Director General, Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Muda Yusuf, would be the lead paper presenter.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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EFCC Nabs 419 Kingpin Over N250m Fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has arrested a leader of a deadly 419 syndicate, Abayomi Kamaldeen Alaka (a.k.a Awise) over an alleged attempt to swindle an innocent Nigerian of N250 million. 
The Tide learnt that the syndicate operates from a shrine at Ashipa Town, near Abeokuta, Ogun State.
According to a statement made available to The Tide in Lagos on Sunday, by the EFCC, Awise’s arrest followed a petition by his victim, Juliet Bright who lost N250m to the fraudster after she was tricked to provide money for sacrifices and invocations to heal her of an ailment.
The statement said Bright was introduced to Alaka by one Akinola Bukola Augustina (a.ka. Iya Osun) whom she met on Facebook in the course of her search for solutions to her health challenge. 
What drew her to Augustina was the latter’s post under the name, Osunbukola Olamitutu Spriritual Healing Centre.
 Once Bright contacted Augustina, the latter promised to heal her if she could pay N16 million. 
The victim paid the money through an Access Bank account belonging to one Mohammed Sani, who later turned out to be a Bureau De Change Operator.
After paying the money without receiving healing, Augustina transferred the victim to other members of the syndicate, notably Awise. 
Bright revealed that she met Awise at his shrine in Ashipa Town and was hypnotized and subsequently transferred various sum through bank accounts and in cash to the suspect and his syndicate members, until she lost N250 million to them.
Despite all the monies collected from her, her health conditions has never improved.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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Expert Wants Farmers To Grow Plant Produce For Export

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An expert in Quarantine Agriculture, Dr Vincent Ozuru, has advised Nigerian farmers to give more attention to growing plants produce that could be exported.
He said that plant like the hibiscus, popularly known as Zobo is on high demand in some countries around the world, today.
Ozuru who gave the advice while speaking to aviation correspondents at Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, noted that some plants produce, particularly hibiscus, had yielded huge revenue to the Federal Government through export.
According to him, Nigeria exported about 1,983 containers of hibiscus to Mexico alone in 2017 and earned $35 million within nine months of that year.
The agricultural quarantine expert explained that the export of the plant had a setback as a result of storage pest discovered by the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service in some consignments.
“The issue has now been taken care of and the export is resuming again, and all matters have been resolved with the stakeholders across the value chain.
“Mexico is the largest importer of Nigerian hibiscus, and our farmers should brace up to the challenge.
“The good news is that Nigeria has a vast growing belt in hibiscus, and the harvest is available all year round.
“We need to take advantage of this opportunity to earn foreign exchange for ourselves and for the country at large, even with the commitment of the present administration to diversify the economy”, he said.
Ozuru called on Nigerian farmers to show more commitment to the growing of export produce and also endeavor to get ready information on it in order to increase their income.

By: Corlins Walter

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