The Chairman, Port Consultative Council (PCC), Otuba Kunle Folarin has faulted the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, for accusing maritime elites of being unpatriotic and of benefiting from insecurity in the nation’s waterways.
Amaechi had during the launch of the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure otherwise called the Deep Blue project in Lagos on Thursday, said because some Nigerians especially those who do business on the nation’s maritime domain were making money from insecurity; they tried to frustrate the execution of the project.
“They were making billions of money from insecurity, so anybody who is to fight insecurity, they will fight the person. But I was very determined. Until I leave office or you sack me, I will make sure that this equipment remains because Nigerians who do business in the water are not good people, they are not patriotic,”Amaechi had said at the event.
But speaking with SHIPS & PORTS, Otunba Folarin described the minister’s statement as a misplaced comment.
“It depends on what side of the mouth the Minister was talking about, whether he was talking about fact or fiction but if it is fact, he is obviously referring to the secure anchorage because that was why he pursued the maritime security project, which he has now realised.
“The project at the secure anchorage is a combination of various interest groups, including the Navy and the promoter itself but the Minister and the suspended NPA Managing Director were against the concession.
“In several for a, Amaechi has always accused people who are not supporting his objection to that kind of contract but that does not equal to labelling maritime elites as unpatriotic because nobody knows the details of many things concerning the secure anchorage until the minister and the promoters disagreed. So why will he just come out and say maritime elites are unpatriotic?
“It is a misplaced comment because people must know the details of what they are to jump into. Majority of the maritime elites after facts emerged condemned the operation of the secure anchorage which they say should be domiciled with the NIMASA or NPA. Many objected to it because of security implications to the country. Stakeholders can only take your side when they know the details of issues.
“Because of lack of information, some people can just dismiss it and say the Minister is bringing up his own Israeli people that was why he was against this one but if he factors them in, in terms of information, it will not take long before they will give the necessary advise or position on the matter.
“But when people don’t know what is going on and it is only when you quarrel that you call us to support you or attack somebody, it won’t work because majority of the people who are maritime elites are professionals,” Folarin said.
Also speaking, maritime lawyer, Emeka Akabogu, although was silent on the minister’s comment, urged him to focus on the implementation and sustainability of the deep blue project in the long run rather than dissipating energy on the cancelled Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) contract.
“The Minister is the one that cancelled the SSA contract. The significance of the project itself is what I will be concerned with and the implementation of the project in the long term so that we have a framework to ensure that on a day-to-day basis, the implementation works and if there is an incidence, there is actual response to the incident, that is when we would be able to measure the success of the project.
“It is better for the government to create a framework to ensure there is security whether the framework is implemented by private security or government themselves. Now that the government has taken over with the launch of the deep blue project, how efficient that will be remains to be seen because we know how government tends to undertake its activities,” he said.