By Christiana Ekpa
The House of the Representatives yesterday summoned the Group Managing Director of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kolo Kyari, Yusuf Bichi, Director Department of the State Security Service (DSS), the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele as well as the Controller General of Custom, Ali Hameed.
They are to appear before the panel over their refusal to attend an investigative hearing into the non-utilization of Eastern and Southern ports in the country.
The chairman of the ad-hoc committee, Mr Buba Yakub gave Summon at the end its one day public hearing to “Determine why the Warri, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Onne, and Onitsha Inland ports complexes are not being put to use to maximal use.”
The chairman said the refusal of the agencies Bosses to attend the hearing was a clear indication that “they are not in line with the House on how to resolve the ports problems,” he said.
The House equally accused Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMSA) and the Nigeria Navy of failing to carrying out its responsibilities of securing the water ways in the country despite huge sum of billions pumped in yearly.
A member of the committee Mr. OC Prestige made the assertions during the hearing, unravel the issues surrounding the noninvolvement of the private sector and lack of implementation in some of the concessioning agreement.
According to him, “what roles have you played in the year under review to curb the challenges of piracy and insecurity?
“We know that NIMASA has been collecting billions of dollars to secure our water ways and the Navy is also paid several billions to secure our water ways as well.
“Nigerians pays billions of naira to private security to accompany their ships whereas billions of naira is spent on these security agencies to secure the water ways.”
Collaborating his position, Mr. Victor Kolade (PDP, Ondo) also blamed the issue of insecurity in the various ports to inter agency rivalry.
“Inter agency cooperation is also an issue why agencies of government have not been cooperating with each other to secure our water ways”, he said.
Reacting, the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Transport, Mr. Salihu
Zakary said he was in total agreement with the suggestion of the committee on cooperation amongst the various agencies saddled with the responsibilities of securing our water ways.
“We cannot say we agree with one and we don’t agree with the other.
The ministry is supposed to be a clearing agent to all the agencies but unfortunately that’s not the case. However, the issue of interagency rivalry in this case has to be addressed through legislation.
“Most of these issues cannot be resolved just here, again we need the National Assembly to also step in and address these issues. The ministry has it own limitations. Another question is, is the Navy under the ministry? no. Though, the ministry would try to bring these agencies together because of the overlap in the acts”
In response, the representative of the Chief of Naval Staff, Ibrahim Adaji said they have secured six surveillance boards but need more sophisticated surveillance boats in other to tackle the security of the water ways in the eastern zone.
“The Global Safety Maritime System helps in securing our ships that have issues of fire outbreak and other systems have contributed immensely in the securing and safety of our water ways. The Nigeria Navy is must say is living up to its responsibility”, he said.
However, the Chairman of Technical Committee Shipowners Association, Mr. Lucky Akhiwu said lack of political will and corruption were the primary reasons why eastern ports were not functional and not security as being projected by the regulatory agencies.