ANLCA President, Hon. Iju Tony Nwabunike

The National President of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents ANLCA, Hon. Iju Tony Nwabunike has enjoined Muslims in the maritime industry to always imbibe the culture of selflessness and self-denial as exemplified by Prophet Mohammed, especially as they join other Muslims across the world in celebrating the Eid- el -Fitr which marks the end of 30- day Ramadan fast.

The President has also urged the Federal Government to take urgent and pragmatic steps towards developing and harnessing the potential of the maritime industry in line with efforts to diversify the economy, especially given the uncertainties in the global oil market and the ensuing revenue shortfalls in the country.

In a goodwill message signed personally by the President, he commended the Muslim Faithfuls for their sacrifice and prayers for Nigeria but also admonished that there could be no better time than now to make more sacrifice and offer more prayers for the country, given the current security and economic challenges facing the country.

According to him, with more prayers, commitment and selflessness not only by the Muslims but by all the citizens, the country would in no distant time overcome all the current economic and security challenges plaguing her.

He noted that this year’s Sallah came at a time the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC declared that it would deduct a whopping sum of N112billion from oil and gas proceeds for April 2021 to ensure continuous supply of petroleum products to the country and guarantee energy security. This development, he argued, calls for urgent and concerted efforts by all, especially the government to diversify the economy.

He also argued that as the second highest revenue earner in the country after oil and gas, the maritime industry remains the nation’s economic low hanging fruits capable of cushioning the short and long term effects of reduced oil revenue. This, according to him, implies serious funding gaps for the three tiers of government comprising the Federal, States and Local Governments with dire consequences for the citizens.

As a way out of this quagmire, he made a strong case for further development of the nation’s maritime potential towards economic diversification for job creation, which would also help to address the worsening insecurity while positioning the seaports as hub for the West and Central African region.

He also urged the government to consciously address Apapa gridlock by declaring an emergency to expedite the ongoing road rehabilitation works, which could be done on a 24- hour basis to alleviate the suffering of the people.

He therefore warned that any stop gap solution to the Apapa traffic would be counter-productive as operatives would either extort or introduce other forms of sabotage to undermine the system. The ANLCA boss also urged the relevant authorities to expedite action on the Port Harcourt- Eleme end of the East- West road and the adjoining portions leading to Onne Ports Complex which is a beehive of maritime activities to enhance efficient port operation, which translates to more revenue for the government.

The goodwill message reads in part: “As we join our Muslim brothers and sisters, especially those in the maritime industry, in celebrating Eid- El -Fitri, which marks the end of 30- day Ramadan fasting, I want to sincerely join you in prayers that may Allah accept your acts of worship and piety.

“I specially salute your selflessness, self-denial and commitment in praying for our great country at this trying period of economic and security challenges, which I know, together we shall overcome.

“As the second highest revenue earner, Nigeria’s maritime industry is the nation’s economic low hanging fruits capable of cushioning the temporary effect of reduced oil revenue. This year’s fasting and Eid- El -Fitri celebrations are instructive, coming at a time the NNPC declared that it would deduct N112 billion from oil and gas proceeds for April to ensure continuous supply of petroleum products to the country and guarantee energy security.

“The implications include not having oil revenue for the federal government to share with the states and local governments. This situation is premised on the hike in crude oil prices on the deregulated downstream sector and the need for uninterrupted supply of petroleum products to citizens.

“Aside the economy, activities in our maritime industry also call for increased security attention which the federal government through the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA is rising to the occasion with planned deployment of deep blue assets later this month. It is anticipated that this move will go a long way in fighting piracy and other maritime crimes in the Gulf of Guinea and our country’s territorial waters.

“Safety of vessels, cargoes and crews on our waters have direct impacts on our overall economy since the maritime sector is critical for us in the areas of trade, investment, employment and recreation.

“Further development of our maritime potential will be a bold step towards economic diversification for job creation, addressing insecurity and positioning our ports for hub status in the West and Central African region”.