Port concessionaires under the aegis of Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) have thrown their weight behind the Federal Government’s export drive and economic diversification programme.

The new management of the Nigerian Ports Authority had on assumption of office about three months ago adopted the stimulation of export produce through the prioritisation of agricultural and mineral resources using the seaports.

Spokesman of STOAN, Bolaji Akinola, who made the pledge in Lagos,  

said that the terminal operators will continue to support the export and economic diversification drive of the Federal Government.  

According to him, some of the steps taken by the government so far indicate that President Muhammadu Buhari is determined to reposition the nation’s economy and so should be supported by all relevant stakeholders.

He said: “There is no better way to transform the economy now than through the economic diversification drive embarked upon by the Federal Government and STOAN is poised to support the government as it embarks on this onerous but fruitful task of growing the economy.

“The government recently reiterated its determination to diversify the economy through increased local production of goods and services. This is a welcome development because with a diversified economy, Nigeria would cease to be a mono product economy”.

 He insists that Nigeria needs strategic interventions and focused leadership to transform the economy to transform it from the current over- dependence on the oil and gas industry to a more diversified economy.

“STOAN aligns with the Federal Government’s vision of building the economic foundation on made-in-Nigeria goods and services. 

The diversification efforts will also help the country move from import dependence to self-sufficiency in local agricultural production and become an export-led economy in goods and services”, he said.

He however charged the government to continue to improve the economic environment and ease of doing business in the country with a view to making it more conducive and investment-friendly.

Recall that many investors comprising both foreign and local believe that Nigeria is a tough environment to do business; especially in terms of poor infrastructure, multiple taxation, lack of ease of doing business and several other lapses including over-regulation by several government agencies, most of whose functions are overlapping.

“Many of the programmes of the Federal Government have been structured towards stimulating domestic production, especially improving the quality of made-in-Nigeria goods to international standards so they can be exported with a view to earning to foreign exchange and reduce the pressure on the naira”.

“There is therefore the need urgent to support the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises SMEs to be able to compete and create the platform that would help reinvigorate local industries so as to curtail the growing demand for foreign exchange to import end-user goods” he also said.

 Managing Director of NPA, Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman had on assumption of office about three months ago listed eight priority areas of the new management which include stimulating exports and agricultural produce and mineral resources, capacity building, blocking revenue leakages and increasing revenue generation, among others.

The MD believe that the nation’s seaports should move away from the current position of handling only imports to also handling of exports as part of measures to diversify the economy and boost foreign exchange earnings.