Transportation Ministry: Workers, stakeholders express confidence in Gbemi Saraki 

Gbemi Saraki flags off operation to free port access road
Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki

The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) and other major stakeholders in the maritime industry have expressed confidence in the ability of the Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Ruqayyah Saraki to reposition the transportation sector, especially maritime and railway transport.

Saraki took charge of the Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMOT) last month after some ministers in the cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari resigned to contest election.

“She is a technocrat. She understands the transportation sector including the railway and maritime sectors very well. When she served as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Maritime Transport during her days in the upper legislative chamber from 2003 to 2011, she exhibited very good knowledge of the industry. It was during her tenure that major developmental bills such as the Cabotage Act, the Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Acts were passed.

“She is a great administrator by all standards and we are delighted with her performance. She is the kind of leader the maritime industry needs at this critical time,” President of the Nigerian Importers Integrity Association (NIIA), Godwin Onyekazi, said.

Also, the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) said Senator Gbemi Saraki will enjoy the full support of the union in her task as the new head of the Federal Ministry of Transportation.

Spokesman of the union, Comrade Oniha Erazua, said the union has enjoyed cordial working relationship with Saraki and expressed confidence that she will remain a worker-friendly minister.

“As a union, I know that my President General, Comrade Prince Adeyanju Adewale has a good working relationship with the Ministry of Transportation because basically, without them, our membership and the companies we work for will not function.

“Senator Gbemi Saraki has done wonderfully well. There were many instances she has waded and intervened in situations that literarily would have metamorphosed into crisis. We expect that she should continue to play the role of a mother and a very beautiful technocrat in the Transportation Ministry.

“The union is very solidly with her. We want to reiterate our support and that our doors are open at any time to ensure that the transport sector grows,” he said.

Some workers of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) also expressed confidence in the ability of the Minister to push ahead with the ongoing railway reforms of President Muhammadu Buhari.

A top management staff of the NRC, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t officially authorised to speak with the press, said Senator Gbemi Saraki had hitherto been “the engine of the progress” made in the railway sector by the Buhari administration.

“She was very quiet. Because she doesn’t push herself forward in the media, many people did not understand the role she played in the railway. She is the thinker and strategist in the Ministry. She did her job quietly without making any fuss while others took the glory in the media. Now that she is fully in charge of the Ministry, people will see the caliber that she is made of. I have no doubt that the challenges facing railway will be expeditiously resolved by her and I am sure the outstanding railway projects will be speedily completed,” he said.

An Economics graduate of the prestigious University of Sussex, United Kingdom, Senator Saraki has been tagged as one of the most hardworking Ministers in the present government. She is reputed to have an impressive work ethic and passion for developmental matters.

Having served at various times as a Member of the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2003 and as a Senator representing Kwara Central Senatorial District from 2003 to 2011, Saraki emerged as the Best Female Legislator in Nigeria, with the highest number of bills presented and passed into law by any female in the political history of Nigeria.

In the House of Representatives, she was an active member of several House Committees including the Committees on Transport, Committee on Aviation, Committee on Navy, Committee on Privatisation, and Committee on Special Duties.

When she became a Senator, she served as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Marine Transport where she pushed through several Bills that became law to enhance the development of the maritime industry. She was also, at various times, Chairman of the Senate Committee on National Planning; Committee on Poverty Alleviation and Economic Affairs; and the Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption. She was also a Member of several other Senate Committees including Foreign Affairs, Media and Publicity, Women Affairs and Youth development, Environment and Ecology; and Public Accounts, among others. By the end of her tenure in the upper legislative chamber, she had sponsored 13 legislative Bills, making her one of the most active Senators in the country.

Before her appointment as the Minister of State for Transportation by President Muhammadu Buhari in August 2019; Saraki served as the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Federal University, Otuoke, Bayelsa State where she discharged her duties creditably to the admiration of the academic community.