Stakeholders, including legal experts, have called on President Goodluck Jonathan and the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, to pursue the issue of legal backing for the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) as an important instrument for it to carry on as ports economic regulator.
The stakeholders identified the passage of the Ports & Harbours and the National Transport Commission (NTC) Bills as important for the ports industry, as well as to aid the NSC which was recently appointed as an interim ports regulator for one year.
President of the Nigerian Maritime Law Association, Mr. Louis Mbanefo (SAN), who identified the need for legal backing for the Council as a Regulator said it should have been the first thing, adding that government should start the process with speed to enable the Council succeed in its assignment.
Similarly, Mr Chidi Ilogu (SAN), a maritime lawyer, who noted that the NSC can operate as a Regulator with its current law, however, added that the need for urgent passage of the necessary bills for the regulator to operate cannot be over-emphasised.
Another maritime lawyer and former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mrs. Mfon Usoro, who identified funding as a critical factor for the agency to succeed also added that government should address the issue of legal backing for the regulator
According to her, the regulator needs to be armed with powers of the law to execute its statutory functions. She called on the President and the Transport Minister to pursue the passage of the bills as soon as possible so that the Council can succeed in its functions.
Chairman of the Board of the NSC, Lt Gen. Salihu Ibrahim (GCON) and the Executive Secretary, Mr Hassan Bello, had during the meeting with stakeholders assured that the Council will not disappoint operators, including providers and consumers of shipping services in the discharge of its duties.