Dr. Rabiuu Musa Kwankwaso delivering his address.
Story by Dili Utomi.
It was a packed main hall on Tuesday at the Sheraton hotels and towers, Ikeja, venue of the Town Hall meeting organised by the New Nigeria Peoples Party and which had the title “Maritime Agenda”. The event which took place under the auspices of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) had the flag bearer of the party, Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso as well as a host of other dignitaries in attendance.
The event was handled by three seasoned maritime journalists, Asu Beks, Ray Ugochukwu and Kingsley Anaroke and was kicked off around 11.40am with the introduction of the dignitaries.
The welcome address was read by elder Asu Beks. He delved into the reason behind this town hall meeting as he stated that it is the first in the series of the meetings where the presidential candidates of all the 18 registered political parties would be invited to undertake a social contract with critical stakeholders. He noted that the sector is worth over 91 trillion naira and can boast of not fewer than 15 million voters and that any presidential candidate who ignores these facts can as well kiss Aso Rock Villa goodbye in 2023. He added that industry stakeholders are seeking to drive home a process of advocacy that will elevate Nigeria’s Maritime Industry to a matter of national priority.
Dr. Aniebonam (second from left)
, Dr. Kwankwaso, Prof. Alkali and Buba Galadima on the high table at the occassion.
Otunba Kunle Folarin, an industry guru who doubled as the chairman of the occasion as well as the moderator of the programme in his remark said that Nigeria has the biggest Maritime potentials in Africa. He submitted that the size of its Maritime space is 900 nautical miles with 10 territorial areas of water space, 592 inland waterways, 10,000km of navigable waterways in the country and a an economy worth over 177 trillion naira. Chief Folarin opined that as the president, “Rabiu Kwankwaso will use the water potentials for electricity, household needs, transportation and for other uses in developing in the nation”. He enthused that search and rescue for the nation is the mission of the flag bearer. Otunba Folarin informed the house that the country has 8 littoral states and 16 confluence points and asks rhetorically what we are doing with these potentials. He noted that 70% of trade in the West and Central Africa regions originate from Nigeria and that we cannot have all these large corridors of coastal waters, population and all the underlying potentials and still remain tenants, we should be the ‘landlords’, he indicated. The Chief warned that the anomalies in the practices at our Ports should be completely removed including the removal of all barriers and unfavourable trade policies; the items on the exclusive list should be reviewed, he wholeheartedly hopes that tomorrow will bring a new dawn for the country.
Otunba Folarin addressing the gathering.
The founder and spiritual leader of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, Dr. Boniface Okey Aniebonam in his address traced the history of the party to 21 years ago and stated the the party has been quietly working to make progress for positive impact, he noted that the party wants to enter into social contract with the Nigerian people hence the meeting; he said that since the system has collapsed, a manoeuvre through a new order is taking place. He stated that the party’s flag bearer comes with no baggage. He wants stakeholders to work assiduously and use their over 15 million votes to make Rabiu Kwankwaso the next president of Nigeria as he notes that power is not given, but taken.
The crowd of people who filled the hall.
The party chairman, Professor Rufai Alkali in his address noted that the party has over time set up structures all over the country and now has a most credible candidate amongst the presidential candidates running for office in the 2023 elections. He stated that the NNPP is a national party that is going to take the nation by storm in 2023.
The lead presentation was made by professor Bamidele Badejo which he entitled Sustainable Maritime Development Agenda, he stated that the federal government has depended heavily on borrowing for investments and development purposes and that the potentials in the Maritime sector is so enormous and should be a major economic driver for all the nation’s socio-economic needs.
The Troika of Ugochukwu, Beks and Anoroke.
The high point of the event was when the party’s flag bearer, Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso mounted the podium to address the huge audience in the hall. He said that he is convinced that the Maritime sector has the potentials for the development of the nation and that as the party is the baby of the Maritime sector that it is imperative that they kick start their engagements with the public from the stakeholders in the sector. The presidential candidate noted that with the level of decadence in the Ports, that it shows that the nation is not planning for the future and indicated that this is not acceptable. Dr. Kwankwaso stressed that the high level of corruption at the Ports should be addressed and that the Nigeria Customs Service should be made to function more effectively.
Elder Asu Beks pinning a memorabilia on Dr. Kwankwaso’s attire.
Dr. Kwankwaso berated the other political parties who have ruled the country over the past 23 years for failing in their responsibilities to provide visionary leadership for the country. He submitted that Nigerians are tired of the failures and the status quo and are ready to do away with these. Finally, the flag bearer assured the operators that the issues revolving around insecurity, piracy and corruption will be addressed in addition to the opening up of the other Ports in Warri, Port Harcourt and Calabar.
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