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You Are Saboteurs, Minister Accuses Importers

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The Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, has accused importers in the country for being responsible for the nation’s economic woes.
The minister said importers were the greatest saboteurs of government’s efforts to promote patronage of locally produced products.
Ogbeh spoke on Tuesday in Abuja when he appeared before the National Assembly Joint Committee on Agriculture to defend the ministry’s budget for 2019 fiscal year
He said that international merchants such as importers of tooth picks, sugar, vegetables and pencils were frustrating government’s efforts at ensuring that Nigerians bought made in Nigeria goods.
According to him, “We are a nation of importers as tooth pick every year costs us 18 million dollars,while tomato paste costs us 400 million dollars.
” A basket of tomatoes is less than N2,000. The farmers are losing money because the processors do not have enough funds to set up factories.
“Two factories have started off. I am sure by the end of next year, we can comfortably tell the importers of tomato paste to stop.
“Unfortunately, when you do, you make enemies; even the importation of rice that we are trying to reduce is creating for us enemies, heavy enemies, people who can kill if they have the opportunity because you are spoiling their business.
“Nobody should take this lightly. These guys have hijacked the economy of this country.
“They have taken it hostage and they have no intention of giving up. This regime is unpopular in part because it is trying to cut down imports and transfer the wealth to another thing.
“I know what I am saying because I have been in this business for 41 years. We import sugar, handkerchief, toothpaste, even pencils.
“I read in the newspapers recently that the Champagne Ambassador in Nigeria said Nigerians love life. We are the biggest consumers of champagne on planet earth. More than the French who made it. It will take a strong government to cure Nigeria of this problem.”
He said it was unfortunate that some Nigerians, who had developed so much appetite for foreign goods, were finding it difficult to begin to patronise locally produced goods.
“There is made in Nigeria rice in super markets across the country, but I have no sympathy for those who insist that it must be foreign rice.
“I have no cure for their disease. If they prefer foreign rice, I cannot stop them,”Ogbeh said.
He assured that the Federal Government would begin to consider the possibility of exploring cocoa and other cash crops.
On implication of farmers, herders clash on the amount of products produced in the country, Ogbeh said it had so much effect on the quantity of food crops churned out by farmers.
The minister expressed concern that efforts by the ministry to find lasting solution to the problem had been frustrated by key players in various states, saying that the ministry invited governors of the 36 states of the federation to a roundtable,, but only 16 governors responded.

Chinedu Wosu

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Maritime

‘No Plans To Increase Fare  From PH To Bonny’

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Ahead of this year’s Christmas, boat drivers under the umbrella of Bonny Maritime Transport Association (BMTA) say there is no plan to increase transport fare from Port Harcourt to Bonny Island.
The body said the fare from Port Harcourt to Bonny remains N2,200 per passenger plying the route.
Speaking with The Tide on Tuesday through a telephone interview, a staff of BMTA, Port Harcourt branch, Chief Kim’s George, said all boat drivers were advised not to hike fare from Port Harcourt to Bonny, but to maintain the normal N 2,200 per head.
He lauded the state government for the deployment of three gunboats to Bonny routes to curb piracy.
George also thanked the Nigerian Navy and the Marine Police for the regular patrol of the Bonny waterways to ensure safety of lives and property.
On the issue of life vest, the boat driver said all passengers to Bonny now wear life jackets for safety.
“Passengers now comply with the wearing of life jackets while on board of a speed boat to Bonny.
“Bonny waterways is now safe and secure for sea travelers, three gunboats now patrol the channels and creeks, the Navy and the marine police are working tirelessly to reduce crimes on the waterways,” he said.

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Maritime

Rivers Port Is Safe For Investors

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The  Federal House of Representatives Committee on Ports and Harbours says the  Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Rivers Port Complex, Port Harcourt, is safe and secure for investors to do business .Chairman of the Committee,  Hon Datti Garaba Muhammad, stated this in Port Harcourt last Tuesday during an interactive session  with the management of the port at its Basket House complex.
The House Committee was in the port for a familiarisation visit and oversight function of the port and its terminal operators.
Muhammad noted that Rivers Port Complex was booming with maritime activities, thereby accruing high revenue to the Federal Government.
He said that for the past six months, there was no longer the issue of pirate attacks on sea in the port complex.
“ Rivers Port Complex is now safer for investors to do business as there is no longer attack on vessels for over six months now,” he said.
The Chairman noted that the improved security networks in the port had increased container traffic and attracted more ship owners and importers to the port.
He told the management of the port led by its Port Manager, Engr. Yunusa Ibrahim Anji, that the Federal Government was working tirelessly to revamp the port to attract more investors.
The chairman said that its oversight  functions include overseeing the NPA and the terminal operators doing business in the various ports across the nation.
He said: “We are here to oversee the port, we have visited NPA headquarters, Tin Can Island, Apapa Port, Onne Port and some terminal operators to ascertain the level of compliance”.
On lack of tugboats for the port to carry out effective operations, the committee said the Federal Government would look into the absence of such boats and approve the purchase of tugboats to enhance the port operations.
Muhammad said the committee wanted Rivers Port to  be revamped and bounce back to maritime activities as it is done in the past.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Port Manager, Rivers Port Complex, Engr. Yunusa Ibrahim Anji, said that container traffic had improved in the port compared to 2018 port statistics.
The manager said in 2019, its traffic was 1870,379 while in 2018, its level of traffic was 1723,169.
He told the committee that since his assumption, there has been no problem of attacks on sea going vessels in the ports.
On the security, the manager said the port secured the service of the Nigerian Navy and the marine police to patrol the port waterways to curb any act of insecurity within the complex.
He mentioned lack of tugboats, pilot cutters, accommodation for the pilots and legal issue with BUA terminal operators as some of challenges at the port.

 

By: Chinedu Wosu

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Maritime

Pirates Kidnap 19 Seafarers Off Bonny Island

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No fewer than 19 seafarers working as crew members of a tanker vessel have been kidnapped by suspected sea pirates off Bonny Island.
The seafarers were abducted in a tanker identified as Nave Constellation, about 100 nautical miles off Bonny Island.
A statement made available to The Tide by Dryad Global said the attack occurred 26nm South East of the Egina terminal while the ship was underway on Tuesday.
Eighteen of the crew members abducted were Indian nationals, one is a Turkish, while seven other crew members are still on board the tanker, the statement said.
Navios, which is the owner of the ship and Anglo-Eastern Tanker Management (Hong Kong), which is the vessel’s technical manager, have both confirmed the incident.
The Hong Kong-flagged crude oil tanker had departed Bonny Offshore Terminal in fully laden condition when it was boarded by armed men late on the night of December 3rd.
“The criminal gang departed the vessel taking 19 of those onboard with them as hostage; 18 Indian nationals and one Turkish national. Seven seafarers remained on board and were instructed to take the tanker to a safe position to await the arrival of a security vessel and other support craft. There was no pollution or damage to the vessel.
“Navios as owners and Anglo Eastern as technical and crew managers’s prime concern is the safety and early return of the 19 persons taken by the pirate gang. All the appropriate authorities, including the Flag State, have been alerted and are responding and all the necessary action is being taken to secure their wellbeing and early release,” the two companies said in a statement.
The companies said the families of those taken by the pirates are being kept fully informed of the developing situation.
The  International Maritime Bureau (IMB), Piracy Reporting Centre, has also confirmed the attack on the tanker.
“Nineteen crew were identified as missing. The vessel owners notified the Nigerian Navy and MRCC for assistance.
Remaining crew sailed a tanker to a safe area,” the IMB said.
This is the 6th maritime security incident and the fourth kidnapping incident to occur within 30nm of the South Eastern boundary of the Nigerian EEZ within 2019.

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