Keynote Address at Retreat on Maritime Sector and the Nigerian Economy
KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY RT. HON. YAKUBU DOGARA, SPEAKER, HO– USE OF REPRESENTATIVES, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA ON THE OCCASION OF A RETREAT ORGANISED BY THE HO– USE COMMITTEE ON PORTS, HARBORS AND WATERWAYS AND FEDERAL MINISTRY OF TRANSPORTATION AND ITS AGENCIES UNDER THE THEME “THE MARITIME SECTOR AND THE NIGERIAN ECONOMY” ON 17TH & 18TH FEBRUARY 2017, EKO HOTEL, LAGOS
It is my pleasure to address you today at this veritable platform of a retreat organized by the House Committee on Ports, Harbours and Waterways and the Federal Ministry of Transportation and its agencies with the theme “The Maritime Sector and the Nigerian Economy” which I consider appropriate and timely. This platform is indeed creative and progressive, and it is an opportunity to discuss and improve the relationship between the legislature and the executive in the pursuit of meaningful development, good governance and growth of our economy.
2. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I have gone through the topics to be discussed at this event and I am satisfied that this will not only enlighten the members of the legislature, but will galvanise knowledge transfer through the interactive sessions which this forum is expected to provide.
3. The transport sector is key to the diversification and growth of the Nigeria’s economy, it is therefore important that a suitable synergy between the Legislature and the Executive is created for a sustainable partnership between the two arms of government.
4. The present global economic recession is undoubtedly taking its toll on Nigeria and all hands must be on deck to support the government in its determined efforts to create and propel other sources of revenue to boost the economy. I am happy to say that we in the Legislature are fully committed to giving maximum support to the Executive in this direction. Accordingly, our Honourable colleagues in the house are being galvanized to give maximum support to the timely passage of the 2017 Budget estimates so that implementation of the projects of the Federal Ministry of Transportation can commence.
5. Let me use this opportunity to commend Mr. President for the giant strides he has made in the transport sector within such a short time, especially in the rehabilitation and revitalization of the rail infrastructure as disclosed by oversight reports. The scheduled train operation between Abuja and Kaduna is particularly gladdening.
6. It is an established fact that the Nigerian Ports and the Maritime industry have the potential to sustain the economy of this country and the present administration is doing a lot to reposition the sector. It is truly heart-warming that the industry stakeholders have finally agreed on the importance and inevitability of an Economic Regulator as evidenced in the Public Hearing the House conducted on the National Transport Commission Bill.
7. One of the decisions that should come out of this Retreat is the shape and form of an Industry Regulator and the need or otherwise of the National Transport Commission.
8. More efforts should be made in unlocking the huge and untapped potential in our coastal and inland waterways. The Nigerian Inland Waterways have potentials of providing 28 out of our 36 states and the FCT with cheap, secure and affordable means of moving bulk cargo and personnel from one end of the country to another. Operationalizing and maximizing the inland waterways transportation and associated trades is inevitable if our mining and agricultural sectors are to reach the heights we all desire as alternative revenue sources for the nation. The multi modal dream we all share for our transport industry requires that our waterways, airways and our beleaguered roads must develop at the same pace and complement our rail network.
9. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, as I indicated earlier, the partnership between the Executive and the Legislative arms of government in any democracy is not only desirable but indeed indispensable. We would continue to co-operate with the executive in order to deliver good governance and dividends of democracy to our citizens. I wish to recommend that this forum should not be a one-off occasion but should be a robust platform for regular interaction for both arms of government which will create healthy synergy for the development of this very important sector.
10. I am aware that there are very important Transport Sector Reform Bills pending before us at the National Assembly. These Bills include – The Port & Harbour, Nigerian Railways Corporation Act Amendment, NIWA Act Amendment, the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarders, CRFFN Act Amendment and the National Transport Commission. Suffice it to say that the Bills are all being vigorously processed for passage into laws as part of the Legislative Agenda of the 8th Assembly of the House of Representatives and as veritable legislative tools for getting our economy out of recession.
11. I wish to make a personal pledge, and on behalf of my Honourable colleagues, of offering maximum support towards ensuring the expeditious passage of all these Bills in view of their enormous economic importance.
12. A part of our constitutional responsibilities, the National Assembly does not only make laws for the good governance of the Federation but we also domesticate international conventions/treaties to give them legal effect for local application within the territory of our country. I am aware of international maritime Conventions of which Nigeria is a signatory and which are meant for the National Assembly for ratification/domestication. We undertake to work cooperatively with the Executive for the speedy domestication of these Treaties so that Nigeria could maximize the gains of these international legislations.
13. I am aware of the now famous maritime seminar for judges organized by Nigerian Shippers’ Council and its immense benefits. I propose a similar platform for legislators – to be called Annual Maritime Seminar for Legislators to be organized in partnership with the National Assembly. I believe this will further deepen the mutual appreciation of the executive, legislature and stakeholders on the growth of maritime industry in particular, and the Nigerian economy in general.
14. Finally, I wish to say that the challenges in the Maritime Industry being addressed in this Retreat are too important not to commend our full attention and participation. This is why, despite the obvious pressure to pass our budget and amend our transport laws on time, my colleagues and I are here in numbers to prepare all critical stakeholders for the work ahead. A better understanding of the issues and the laws will actually make both assignments easier, faster and more beneficial. We need to make laws from a knowledge based point of view. We are all here to gain better understanding of the sector, for the benefit of the system.
15. While wishing us fruitful deliberations that enhances the transportation section of the Nigerian economy, may I formally declare this Retreat open.
16. God bless you all and bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.