Engineer Mathew Alalade is the immediate past president of the Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association; an ex-exco-member of the Trade Union Congress (TUC),
In this interview with Babajide Okeowo, he spoke about several issues ranging from the welfare of stevedores to the disbursement of the CVFF and others.
He also spoke on the issue of the proposed plans of the Presidential Committee on Tax Policy and Fiscal Reforms to stop the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Ports Authority, Nigerian Postal Service, and 60 other Ministries, Departments, and Agencies from collecting revenue on behalf of the Federal Government. Excerpts
What Have You Been Up To Since You Left Office As The President Of The Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association?
Since I left office after the completion of my two-term tenure as the president of the Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association in 2020 I decided to take a rest from Labour activities a little bit because while I was in office, aside from being the President of Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association, I was also an executive member of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) as we are an affiliate member of TUC and this labour activities took up a lot of my time serving humanity which is a wonderful experience.
But now, I am focusing and concentrating on my own Marine company where we do Marine Flag and Class Survey, this company has taken off now and this is what I am dedicating my time to at the moment.
What Is Your Take On The Activities Of International Oil Companies Who Seems To Have Taken Over The Business Of Lifting Nigerian Crude?
First of all, who are those giving the International Oil Companies the contract? Is it not the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL)? I would say the government is not encouraging indigenous ship owners too to have the capacity to acquire the kind of ships and vessels capable of lifting our crude, so, the government needs to build the capacity of indigenous ship owners, that is one
What I think the government should do again is to have a policy in place, something like before you can lift Nigerian crude, you must register with the indigenous ship owners to partner with them this will build the capacity of the indigenous ship owners as well as they will then be able to develop their capacity to acquire such vessels.
Recently, The Nigerian Port Authority Started Deploying Nigerian Stevedoring Companies To The IOCS, What Is Your Take On This?
First, it will create employment opportunities for the stevedores.
Then number two, these IOCs required skilled workers and they have the capacity to train Nigerians which will in turn benefit us, so, it is a good development.
How Would You Rate The Government’s Efforts At Combating The Issue Of Pollution Of Our Waterways, Is The Government Doing Enough?
On this issue of the pollution of our water, there should be a national policy, this problem mostly starts from ashore, from the land. Habitually, people litter everywhere both on land and on the sea and whatever is dumped on the land, into the drainages most times find its way into the sea.
So, the government needs to start doing something regarding this now. Propaganda is a tool that they can deploy, if we start now, maybe in the next seven years, it would have started holding ground and yielding the desired fruit, it is because there is no national policy on the ground that is why our water is so dirty.
Still Speaking On Dirt And Pollution, Apapa Is Becoming So Dirty, How Do We Rid Apapa Of Dirtiness?
What of the state where Apapa is, is it not dirty too? So, it is not about the port alone now, the state must be up and doing there should be collaboration. You see truckers and traders defecating along the port access roads openly.
So, the port authority and the state government need to collaborate, while the port authority manages inside the ports, the state government can manage the corridors and port access roads and environs, after all, they are collecting Wharf Landing Fees, they should use part of the money.
What the government should do is build public toilets all around the ports that the truckers can make use of. And for those selling on the roads, there can be like a central canteen or market.
How Can The New Administration Address The Issue Of CVFF?
I think it is the bureaucracy surrounding it that has stopped the disbursement. The last administration really tried to get the funds disbursed
I am sure that this current administration will get it right. Once the ministers are in place, it should be a priority think we can start now with the disbursed. So, let’s hope that this government will do something right. Maybe the ministers are in place now. I think that should be a priority.
So that the indigenous shipowners can begin to have a series of activities, it will create employment opportunities, I believe with this new dispensation, things will kick off.
What Is Your Take On The Plans By Government To Stop The Likes Of Customs, NPA And Other Agencies From Revenue Collection?
I really still don’t know how that will work. Personally, I don’t know how that will work. So, they want to be the only one collecting revenues from every area, so how would they know what they are collecting? Are they going to put their officers in NPA, NIMASA, Customs and the rest?
They do not have the training to know what is being collected, that is one aspect, they are not conversant with the maritime domain, so, if the government is proposing such a thing, I am waiting and looking at them to see how this will work, I am waiting to see how they will drive this.