· Ship Owners, Terminal Operators indict NPA
Fresh revelations have shown that the Minister of Transportation , Rt Hon. Rotimi Amaechi actually said the volumes of denigrating statements as recorded in the controversial leaked audio, which has not only elicited shades of reactions from Nigerians but riled the sensibility of most members of the ruling All Progressives Congress(APC) party.
MMS Plus findings can authoritatively reveal that Amaechi, who is also the Director General of Buhari Campaign Organisation(BCO) spoke in confidence to the members of the Abuja Transport Journalists, who were on a visit to firm up a discussion with the Minister on a planned foreign trip and training for members.
Amaechi who was reacting to their opening appeal for foreign training opportunities anchored on the premise that the ban on foreign trainings in Ministries, Departments and Agencies(MDAs) had been lifted by the Federal Government, urged them to keep the discussion off-record, while in his loquacious manner tried to make them appreciate the leadership dynamics in President Mohammadu Buhari’s regime and how those variables have constituted a hindrance to his good intentions to his media friends.
However, one of the journalists, unknown to others recorded all that was supposed to be off- record and resorted to blackmailing Amaechi.
The blackmailer among them was said to have sent the audio to a friend of the Minister threatening to make it public unless given N5million by Amaechi. Amaechi’s friend whom the journalist contacted in turn alerted him, allegedly with a remark that the audio was damaging and could be a political tool in the hands of the opposition parties.
On hearing and receiving the audio via social media, Amaechi was said to have become visibly angry that he summoned the leadership of the Abuja Transport Journalists and charged them to produce the person among them that was blackmailing him with the discussion they had in confidence.
For weeks, as a result of this, Amaechi refused to see the journalists or grant them audience for entreaties as they called his close friends to plead with him. He finally, however, forgave them but the recorded voice could not be tracked any longer even as he did not yield to the blackmail. This happened in the month of September, 2018 in Abuja before the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) hosted the African Regional Conference of the International Association of Ports and Harbour(IAPH) in Abuja.
It is instructive, MMS Plus notes that Amaechi knowing the truth behind this leaked audio has not denied talking to anybody in that fashion, not even in his interview with The Sun newspaper, recently.
Expectedly, however, many APC members and sympathizers have gone defense spree for Amaechi, alleging that his voice was cloned.
According to the audio, shared by some members of the key opposition party, People Democratic Party(PDP),Amaechi, allegedly portrayed the President as a failure who has been unable to meet the yearnings of various segments of the society.
Amaechi purportedly said, “These are not things you publish ooo. If you publish them, you will never sit with me any day.
“Three years of Buhari oo, everybody is crying, crying… pressmen are crying, farmers are crying, workers are crying, politicians are crying, students are crying, three years oo!
“The rate of poverty is very high. The people are hungry. Nigeria will divide!”
Amaechi also said Buhari hardly listens “to anybody”.
According to him, “The President does not listen to anybody. He doesn’t care. You can write what you want to write. The President doesn’t care. Does he read? He will read, he will laugh. He will say ‘come, come and see, they are abusing me here’.
“In fact, there was one case of somebody in Onitsha, a trader in Onitsha who couldn’t sell his goats during Sallah. And I was with Oga on the plane and the man was busy abusing Buhari. He said, ‘Amaechi, come, what is my business with Onitsha goat seller?’”
Amaechi was also heard saying that Nigeria was hopeless, and the only way for the country to make progress is for “everybody to be killed”
He said a university would be built in his village after one is built in Daura, hometown of President Muhammadu Buhari in Katsina State.
“This country can never change, I swear. The only way this country can change is in a situation where everybody is killed.
“This country is going nowhere. When Magnus (Abe) was Secretary to the Rivers State Government (SSG), I told him that this country is hopeless and helpless and he told me, ‘Oga, stop it’, this cannot be coming from a governor.
“But two months in Abuja, Magnus came to meet me and said, I agree with you; this country is hopeless and helpless. All they do in Abuja is to share money.
“I have already written to the governor of Katsina State and I don’t know why he has not replied to give us the land in Daura for a university in Daura.
“The next university would be in my village. There is a popular saying while we were growing up that charity begins at home. Will my own begin abroad?” Amaechi said in the audio.
Ship Owners, Terminal Operators Indict NPA Over Shallow Draft
Meanwhile, aggrieved by the economic loses and accidents occasioned by the low draft of Nigerian waters, ship owners and terminal operators have urged the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to dredge Nigerian waters.
Speaking with MMS Plus newspaper recently on the challenges facing ship-owners in Nigeria, the President of the Nigerian Indigenous Ship owners Association (NISA) Mr. Aminu Umar described the business environment for ship owners in the country as “extremely challenging”.
According to Umar, beyond the obvious challenges of funding, ship-owners also have the problem of infrastructure.
“The infrastructure isn’t up to the global best standards and it has posed several safety issues to ship owners. We have ugly experiences as a result of channels that aren’t dredged and there are no tugboats to assist the vessels. Because the channels aren’t well dredged, the vessels encounter accidents and we can’t see the underwater”
“We only use the chart to see the draft of the water. These are infrastructure challenges and there are no provisions for emergency vessels for incidents offshore Nigeria. These are infrastructure deficits that the government should address and it is NPA’s responsibility to dredge channels” he said.
Similarly, a top managerial source at Ecomarine terminals has expressed displeasure over the non-dredging of the Calbar port to the draught at 9.4meters which NPA promised in the concession agreement with the terminal operator.
According to the source, Ecomarine, the operator of Terminal B of Calabar Free Port has suffered colossal fiscal losses as a result of the non-completion of the dredging of the Calabar channel.
“This is the most critical factor that is limiting the development of that port. Though the concession agreement we signed with the NPA provides that the lessor (NPA) should maintain the draught at 9.4meters, eleven years after we took over the concession, the draught still remains at 5.4meters at low tide and 6.4meters at high tide which was the same situation we met on August 1st, 2007” he said.
Noting that shipping is about economies of scale of size, the source stressed that the recent trend in the shipping world is the development of bigger capacity vessels which requires deeper draft because there is a correlation between the size of the vessel and the depth of the channel.
“This impediment has made it difficult for the company to attract container carrying vessels on regular call to the port. This situation has adversely affected our container throughput projections and limited the implementation of our development plans which were predicated on increased cargo traffic and the need to expand facilities to support the projection” he added.
All efforts to get the Corporate and Strategic Communications officers at NPA to react to these complaints were abortive as at press time.