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2023: I will tackle corruption, congestion, infrastructure decay at ports if elected President —Kwankwaso



• Decries non-disbursement of CVFF to indigenous shipping operators

The Presidential Candidate of the New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP), Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, on Tuesday decried the tradition of corruption, congestion, infrastructure decay in the ports system and assured that he would tackle all these challenges if elected in 2023.

Kwakwanso also expressed concerns that Nigeria has remained without a national carrier decades after the liquidation of the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) by the federal government over debt related issues in 1995.

Speaking at a Town Hall Meeting organized by the Prime Maritime Project, the former Kano State Governor said he was aware of most of the challenges confronting the maritime industry and was ready to address  them if elected.

He pointed at the issue of ports congestion and gridlock on the ports access road recalling that he once witnessed it during a visit to Lagos sometimes ago.

He said that the issue of congestion was because the ports were planned in the 1950s and designed for a population of 50 million people as against now with a population of 200 million people.

He assured that his administration if elected will address such issues as infrastructure which has remained static.

Kwankwaso also promised that when elected, he will ensure that the Customs Service and other regulatory agencies must be made to perform efficiently and effectively.

He gave his words that the observed high level corruption in the ports system will be tackled to improve productivity in the ports.

Kwankwaso  said “My being here today is out of personal conviction that the maritime sector is a critical element to the growth, survival and prosperity of Nigeria. Again, anybody who forgets his root will never go far in life. The maritime industry gave birth to our great party, the NNPP; as such | cannot disregard any invitation for whatever reason, coming from the sector.

“So, my being here is largely to listen, appreciate and understand the expectations of maritime operators from me and our party should we eventually emerge winners of the 2023 general elections. Though | may not have been fully involved in maritime sector to understand its nitty-gritty but my experience over the years as a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, former Governor, former Minister of Defense and a former Senator has availed me with some basic understanding of the sector and especially some of its challenges.

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“| have listened to this wonderful audience and have noted your expectations. | can tell you that |! am aware of most of the challenges facing the sector presently. One of such, for instance is congestion on port access roads in Apapa. It may interest you to know that in one of my visits to Lagos sometimes ago, | was in Apapa and was stunned at the spectacle of articulated trucks lining the ljora Bridge. To me, it was an unacceptable eyesore in a twenty-first century Nigeria. | was even made to understand that | came when things had improved. This is highly unacceptable!

“It goes to show that we rarely plan for the future. A port system originally designed for a population of less than 50 million people in the 1950s with less than 2.0 million cargo throughput has remained almost the same for more than 200 million population in 2022. When a country’s population is increasing at geometric progression and port infrastructure remains static, the resultant effect is chaos. To me, that is the cause of the ljora Bridge debacle and other issues.

“So many things have gone wrong with the industry | can still remember the days of the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NN L) with its beautiful ships flying Nigeria’s flag across the globe! Why did it die? Why do we not have a replacement as the giant of Africa? What has become of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)? Why has it not been disbursed to beneficiaries? From my little knowledge of the sector, a lot of questions are begging for answers!

“It is also my desire to see that the Customs and other regulatory agencies must be made to perform efficiently and effectively. The observed high level corruption in the system has to be tackled to improve the productivity in the ports.

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“Again, it is worthy here to make mention of effective border checks and control to stem the tide of smuggling and its related security implications. indeed, the entry points of Nigeria shall attract the desired attention of my administration if elected the President.

“In. summation, the desired assistance to all importers of goods, manufacturers including exporters and other ancillary stakeholders associated with port operations and management will be guaranteed under our party’s regime, by the special grace of God! “

The Chairman Board of Trustees of the NNPP, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, said it was time for Nigeria to change from the old order to the new order.

Aniebonam who is the founder of the NNPP and also founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) said this was because of the system collapse in the country, adding that with the situation, there has to be tactics to achieve the best.

Decrying the frustration in the country, he said it was not about blaming anybody but finding a lasting solution.

He said the NNPP has a child of God as a presidential candidate who has the capacity to fix Nigeria.

The BoT Chairman told freight forwarders and other stakeholders who were at the event that they will benefit from Kwankwaso  presidency if he wins the election.

The Chief Operating Officer of the Prime Maritime Project, Elder Asu Beks in his welcome address described the Townhall meeting as the first of its kind and aimed at extracting a social contract from presidential candidates of political parties.

Beks said, “WHY A TOWN HALL MEETING? While it is a truism that this sector is the most resourceful after Oil and Gas and given its immense contributions to our national economy, regrettably, successive administrations have continued to undermine the vast potentials of the maritime industry and have failed to articulate an enduring maritime strategy that will enable us harness its vast potentials. We have continued to make ourselves a laughing stock in the comity of maritime nations. With over 42 thriving sub Sectors which cut across ship building, freight forwarding, haulage, dry docking, seafaring, a promising blue economy, etc, it is the view of PRIME MARITIME PROJECT, that this sector holds the ace as the most beautiful bride of the 18 presidential candidates in the February, 2023 presidential election.

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“That is why we want stakeholders present here, to take this unique opportunity to make an appraisal of those issues which have remained unresolved over the years. For instance, why can’t we have a separate M nistry of Maritime Affairs? What is holding back the proposed National Transport Commission Bill? Why are our ports not linked by rail including the Lekki deep sea port that will be commissioned next month? Why do our ports suffer such a huge infrastructural deficit and we paying giving lipservice to talks about the ease of doing business when in actual fact Nigerian ports remain the most expensive tn the West and Central African subregion?

“What do we gain as a nation by recycling politicians to head key parastatals in a sector that is highly professional? | can go on and on with these tales of woes.

“Based on this premise, industry stakeholders are seeking to drive home a process of advocacy that will salvage Nigeria s Maritime Industry to a matter of “National Priority *. Therefore, as Nigerians prepare to € ect another President to steer the affairs of this nation, industry stakeholders are unanimous in their Quest to extract a MARITIME AGENDA from the in-coming administration”.

The Moderator of the event, Mr Ray Ugochukwu, who is a member of the PMP said the Townhall meeting was mainly to hold the presidential parties accountable if any of them wins the presidency.

Ugochukwu said the maritime sector was among the ‘hens that lay the golden eggs’ as far as the nation’s economy is concerned.

According to him, everything must be made to ensure that political office holders pay attention to the development of the sector because of its economic relevance.

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Concrete Roads: Cement price to hit N9,000, manufacturers warn



The Cement Producers Association of Nigeria has warned that the ongoing plan of the federal government to introduce concrete roads will raise the price of cement to N9, 000 per bag from the current price of N5, 000.

It also called on the current administration to permanently address the perennial cement price hike problem by facilitating larger participation in the cement industry, noting that Nigerians have no business buying cement for more than N5, 600 per bag.

The association, in a statement jointly signed by the National Chairman, Prince David Iweta and National Secretary Chief Reagan Ufomba, on Sunday, commended the works Minister’s position on cement-made roads but warned of dire consequences, if the supply end is not addressed properly.

As a solution, the cement producers urged the government to lay more emphasis on road design that allows both cement technology and asphalt pavement to run concurrently and provide ample time for a smooth transition that allows contractors to invest in commensurate and requisite equipment and retooling.

The statement read, “Our findings from various parts of the country show that cement sells for as high as N6000 per bag in the rainy season. Our prediction is that it will sell for over N9,000 per bag in the dry season, especially with the pronouncement of the Honourable Minister of Works on cement technology and the marching order on housing by Mr President if the government does not take proactive steps.

“While we commend the Honourable Minister’s position on cement-made roads, we warn of the dire consequences if the supply end is not properly addressed. In fact, it would amount to dereliction of duty not to intervene. And the time is now. To do otherwise is to continue in a worsening pipe dream that prices would suddenly drop on this essential input that will continue to drain the purse of Nigerians, render them homeless, encourage chaos between demand and supply, and worsen the infrastructure deficit it sets out to cure, and lead to an unprecedented price hike.

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“We also call on the Honourable Minister of Works to lay more emphasis on the design criteria of roads that allow both cement technology and Asphalt pavement to run concurrently, in turn, will provide ample time for a smooth transition that allows contractors to invest in commensurate and requisite equipment and retooling. We must also as a nation regulate static and dynamic load traffic by introducing weighbridges at access points on our highways. Working in sync with contractors, and allied Ministries of Trade and Investment, Transport, Environment and Finance on realistic policy on cement is most desirable at this critical time.”

The association further requested the government to conclude the backward integration policy of the late Yar’adua administration that was already bringing availability and affordability of cement in the country.

It added, “There has been so much comment on cement and cement pricing of late. What our nation needs is cement that is available and affordable. And this cannot be achieved by mere wishes, faulty policies and programmes, without breaking the chain of monopoly and favouritisms. Nigerians are tired of waiting for a downturn in the price of cement and for decent and affordable housing.

“We call on the Tinubu government to permanently solve this perennial cement price hike problem by expanding participation in the sector with companies who have verifiable evidence of local investment, including greenfield licenses and quarrying. As a matter of fact, we call on the government to more specifically conclude the backward integration policy of the late Yar’adua administration which was already bearing availability and affordability fruits.

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“As patriots, it is our view that the government reintroduces backward integration policy and the conclusion of old ones. Consequently, the government cannot be seen to approbate and reprobate by deregulating issues of petroleum products and foreign exchange on one hand and regulating on pricing of cement, essential goods and services on another. There is a need for policy harmonisation and convergence between fiscal and monetary policies.

“Finally, we call on the government to urgently intervene in the foreign exchange market, intervene in restructuring bad loans of manufacturers, and review palliative modules. The cry for elusive FDI will be drastically reduced if all manufacturing concerns are revived. The government must be decisive in the kind of economic policies it intends to foist on the people,” the statement concluded.

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Fake News: Dangote Group denies Cement price slash 



Aliko Dangote and Dangote Cement

Dangote Group has described as fake the reports circulating online that it would reduce the price of cement per 50 kilogramme from N5,500 to N2,700.

Anthony Chiejine, Spokesperson for Dangote Group described the claim as fake news on Monday.

His reaction comes amid speculation that the Dangote group crashed the cement price by 50 per cent with effect from October 1st, 2023.

Earlier, Bahir Ahmad, media aide to former president Muhammadu Buhari, had commented that the report was fake.

Ahmad made this known through his official X handle on Sunday.
“The Dangote Group has denied the trending reports that it has reduced the price of cement from N5,500 to N2,700 effective October 1st”, 
he wrote.

The price of a 50kg bag of cement is sold between N4,600 to N6,000 in Lagos, Ogun, Ondo and Abuja.

However, barely two weeks ago, BUA Cement had hinted at plans to reduce the price of a 50kg bag of cement to between N3,000 and N3,500.

BUA chairman, Abdul Samad Rabiu disclosed this after meeting with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

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Naira crashes to all-time low at exchange market



The exchange rate between the naira and the dollar plunged to a record low N983/$1 at the black market based on quotes received by Nairametrics on Wednesday as currency traders said there no dollar to sell

This represents a 2.93% drop when compared with the N955/$1 that it traded the previous day as the foreign exchange crisis in the country continues unabated.

This also shows a substantial depreciation from the N950/$1 that it traded last week as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) appears to be still struggling to stabilize the foreign exchange market despite its various policy pronouncements.

Recall that in mid-August, the dollar was quoted as low as N955/$1, stoking fears among investors that the exchange rate might plummet to N1000/$1.

This, however, appreciated at some point to N840/$1 after the apex bank warned speculators about potential major losses due to the policies it hopes to introduce.

In related news, trading on the official I&E window on September 20 witnessed the exchange rate between the naira and the dollar settling at N776.60/$1, a drop from N773.98/$1 the previous day.

The intra-day high soared to N799.9/$1, whereas the intra-day low dipped to N720/$1.

Data from FMDQ Securities Exchange, a platform that oversees official FX trading in Nigeria, shows that a total of $71.01 million was traded at the I & E window, Nigeria’s official trading window.

2023 Currency tracking platform AbokiFX also captured the exchange rate trades at N980/$1 on Wednesday. We are out of business
A top official of the Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) who did not want to be mentioned said that the forex market is currently in disarray as most of the licensed operators do not have dollars to sell and as such out of business.

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He said, ‘’The market has scattered, the rate is N983/$1.

Most of the licensed bureau de change operators do not even have dollars to sell, we are out of business.

“I think the liquidity is in the so-called parallel market. Its all about scarcity and when there is scarcity, it gives rise to parallel or black market.’’

He said that if there is dollar available to sell or buy, he might not even do the transaction because he does not know what to do, adding that he is confused as a licensed bureau de change operator.

Going further, he said, ‘’You see this market operates on different level, we have started seeing Binance, we are now seeing Dubai rate, we are now seeing local parallel market rate, so it depends on the level you are.’’

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