The representative of the President-General of MWUN Comrade Oniha Erazua in the middle is flanked on the left by MAJAN president Tunde Umar Daniah and on the right by Comrade John Ikemefuna.
Story by Dili Utomi.
The Maritime Journalists Association of Nigeria (MAJAN) on Thursday organised a roundtable discussion on an “Appraisal of the Policy on the Ease of Doing Business”. The President-General of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju was invited to present his Union’s position on the topic, but as was unavoidably absent, he was ably represented by deputy secretary general of the association, Comrade Oniha Erazua who did a lot of justice to the topic.
Comrade Erazua in the presented paper noted that the “advent of the covid -19 pandemic has helped change the world order, creating a new world of control, restrictions, creating challenges and crisis” and that the country is not insulated from it as the purchasing power of the average Nigerian has been removed.
The resource person presenting his paper amidst rapt attention.
Comrade Erazua noted that “records show that the average Nigerian except perhaps the core government functionaries daily grapple with the lack of basic things like food, school, finance, clothing, health care and skyrocketing charges on loans. It is getting to a situation where investments in business have become a nightmare”. He pointed out that the spiral effects of the circumstance is found in the increasing unemployment, redundancies and premature death. He admonished that we are now faced with the need to conform or be consumed in the new order of doing business and so we must embrace the advent of electronic marketing which serves as an alternative strategy of doing business while still conforming to the covid-19 prevention protocols of social distancing and reducing physical contact.
The Nigerian Business environment is presently beclouded by uncertainties that are largely caused by man-made factors that have not allowed real growth and enhanced prosperity. Doing business is grounded on the principle that economic activities benefit from clear rules which allow voluntary exchange between economic actors and which provide contractual protection against arbitrariness and abuse.
A group photograph after the roundtable discussion.
The MWUN representative noted that “Unfortunately, most times these regulations miss their goal and subsequently one inadequacy substitutes another, especially in the form of government overreach in business activities. He indicated that findings show that ” Government in most economies adopt or maintain regulations that burden entrepreneurs and thus limit the entrepreneur’s ability to freely operate a private business. Thus, the consequence of this is that investors shift to informal activities away from the oversight of regulators and tax collectors or worse still seek opportunities abroad.
He noted that there are so much bureaucracy surrounding the starting of a business in the maritime sector that is largely guided by government policies which take much time and energy to kick start it. The registration of business in the maritime sector follows all known rigorous government procedures for registering such businesses from the initial Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to the business regulatory agency and with more agencies with overlapping functions and these make the task of registering businesses more arduous. You have the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the National Inland Waterways Agency (NIWA) and even sometimes the Lagos State agencies also act to compound these already terse matter. There are different rates to pay with the attending difficulties as other agencies such as the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), the Quarantine Service, the Nigeria Customs Service and a host of other agencies with differing units waiting to exact as much revenue as possible.
He added that one needs to deposit the sum of Fifty Million Naira as a matter of necessity as a kind of insurance to offset any losses or damages that may occur while the person operates as a barge owner, this, Comrade Erazua says is too much burden for an operator to bear.
The MWUN representative said that as a Union, they are primarily concerned with achieving the best standards of conditions of service/welfare for members, but he notes that this role will not be achieved if businesses do not strive to create employment, hence both the government and the investor must obey the extant laws for all round benefits.
He submitted that doing business in the Nigerian Ports is not only cumbersome, but tortuous and therefore asked the government to streamline their policies for more attractive business environment for all investors.Comrade Erazua admonished the government to borrow a leaf from the governments of neighbouring countries whose reforms have engendered more development in the sector.
One can deduce from the submissions that the federal government’s policy on the Ease of Doing Business still has a long road to travel in order that the derivable benefits may be achieved and so the needed energy and the deliberate actions are recommended to be put in force so that Nigerians can start experiencing prosperity all round.
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