Exposing the Hidden Secrets of MESSY Seaport projects

Onitsha seaports

Nigeria and her Seaports

If you have been an ardent reader of this blog, lucidnigeria.com, you would have observed our keen interest in matters pertaining to seaport and ocean navigation in the nation. I have this interest because I quite understand the importance of seaports and the influence which their presence has on our immediate communities, states and nation as a whole. For example, due to the absence of a functional seaport in Onitsha and the south east as a whole, there’s a rise in cost of certain goods to compensate for the difficulties encountered in transporting goods down from Apapa seaport in Lagos.

There are so many seaports in Nigeria that aren’t functioning and there are even more sites suitable for establishing a seaport some of which have already been commissioned and others aren’t. Some of these sites have been funded and the money looted while others have been underfunded. We will study these projects in this article and also discover why those that are abandoned were left thus. Also, we will discover those that have been taken to completion and why they were successful.

Onitsha seaports
Picture of Onitsha seaport (source : google.com) 

Who’s responsible for lack of seaports in the south east? 

The south east is a region occupied majorly by the Igbos and although e y are known to be business-inclined people who do business all around Nigeria including the importation business for which the ports exists, there has been a popular idea that there’s a grand conspiracy by the Northern Bourgeois alongside some Yoruba elites to deprive the region of such investments and infrastructures. Could this be true?

Surely I feel there’s an element of truth in this considering there’s an obvious lopsided power shift in the Nigerian government in that there are some favored regions and some other less privileged ones. But is that the only reason for the status quo? We will soon discover the truth.

I) The Calabar channel

The Calabar project is a very controversial one. It has been subject of debate among politicians and citizens as well. This is because the port has been left underdeveloped even though calabar is the first capital of Nigeria and a very important city with a significant population as well as being in a position to serve as a connecting seaport for the eastern part of the country.

Was the calabar seaport really abandoned?

Yes. It was once awarded, then abandoned.

Who awarded the contract?

It was Goodluck Jonathan

To whom was the contract awarded? 

It was given to a company known as Niger Royal which is owned by senator Hope Uzodimma of Imo State.

What made the contract to be a failed one? 

This is the hard part of the story. From my own findings, there seems to be a cohesive array of information out there on why the calabar port could not be successfully dredged. I have researched on different platforms and the story ends the same. It goes like this.

Facts about the Calabar seaport as commissioned by Goodluck Jonathan 

Here are extracts from a publication on premium times.

– October 16, 2014: Dredger MV Atlantico Due arrived Calabar, berthed at Intels Terminal for flag-off ceremony and left October 18, 2014 after the ceremony.

– November 12, 2014: a survey boat MV Hurricane arrived Calabar, anchored mid-stream and left without recourse to the Port Management.

– November 19, 2014: MV Waterway arrived Calabar and disappeared without any recourse to Calabar Port Control/Management and without applying or obtaining the requisite sailing clearance till date, there is no communication on where about of the dredger.

– August 29, 2015: Dredger MV Atlantico Due arrived Calabar Fairway Buoy but was not allowed for security reasons pending completion of necessary documentation.

– September 1, 2015: MV Hurricane arrived Calabar without documentation and the vessel left without responding.

After NPA suspended payment, Niger Global petitioned Mr. Amaechi, pressing for more money and the continued existence of the joint venture, CCM.

But in her response, Mrs. Bala-Usman said: “all efforts to find details of dredging activities for the period during which CCM claimed to have dredged Calabar Access Channel (November 2014 to January 2015) proved abortive.

“The Harbour Master and Port Hydrographer during the period stated they were unaware of any dredging undertaken by CCM during the period. Further, there was no communication between the company and the Port Management on their purported dredging activities during the period.”

This story is really sad. The news report suggested that Royal Niger company got the contract with a fake address! Assuming that’s true, the CEO of the company as well as the board members should be brought to book. Considering we know that the owner of the company is senator Uzodimma, I wonder why the government has ignored him for so long. He’s supposed to have been apprehended or does it have anything to do with the fact that he is a member of the APC which is the ruling party?

Quite frankly, I don’t think that his move to join APC was so as to obtain cover for whatever mess he might have created at Niger Royal company because he joined the APC only recently. Or did he make the dash to APC umbrella at the time when the dogs of EFCC came barking at his door? There’s no way to know.

One more interesting thing to note about the dredging contract awarded by Jonathan to Niger royal company is that, it could be a little favor done to a fellow party-man. Yes, Senator Uzodimma was a member of PDP.

If indeed the senator’s company swindled the money provided for the seaport project, then he did very poorly because the project would have benefited his region extensively and he has only succeeded in squashing it. But that’s if what we know is what actually transpired.

Lastly, what if the news available online about how the calabar seaport contract was awarded and abandoned is a scam story? What if it’s all part of the whole conspiracy against the Igbos that I spoke about earlier. 

Yes, it could be. The contract was awarded in Jonathan’s administration but when Buhari came in, some people in his government stopped the funding of the project.

Read this:

After NPA suspended payment, Niger Global petitioned Mr. Amaechi, pressing for more money and the continued existence of the joint venture, CCM. But in her response, Mrs. Bala-Usman said: “all efforts to find details of dredging activities for the period during which CCM claimed to have dredged Calabar Access Channel (November 2014 to January 2015) proved abortive.

So, literally, the contract was terminated in Buhari’s tenure and somehow, the EFCC is not prosecuting the Niger royal and at the same time , they have refused to award the contract to any other company thus far. What is going on I ask??? Is there a conspiracy? 

Let’s study another seaport.

II) Alape lnland port in Ondo state

Ondo state is another state where there’s an ongoing port project although in this case, it is an inland port. It’s one of those abandoned projects that’s being rejuvenated.

Take a look at an extract from a news publication online at TribuneOnline.

Ogunleye said “the claim of Tofowomo is too pedestrian, spurious and unguarded. He should stop shifting the blame. The incompetence of the last administration should not be shifted to this present administration.”

He said that the state Oil Producing Area Development Commission (OSOPADEC) has been mandated by the present administration to intervene in the constructing the 1Km road linking the port before the project could take off.

” Also, the 1Km access road to connect the port site had not been executed till date.

” The federal government has insisted on the construction of the access road to avoid the repeat of what happened in Baro Port in Niger state when access road was completely left undone even till the commissioning period” Ogunleye said. 

From the above, the blame for the delay in the project largely rests on the state government. And in fact it’s the fact as we will soon explore below.

I am not familiar with the workings of these projects but this claim if true is absurd. If the federal government confirms it ,then I will say that the federal is looking for an excuse to abandon the project. I mean, 1km access road to such an important project should not be something that’s in the way of the Federal . Whatever the case may be, it is an abandoned project which the state government is working to awaken.

Now, a little twist…

Take a look at this publication by the guardian newspaper :

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Transport, Tobi Ogunleye, added that the deep sea project, and the Alape Inland Port are top prioritised, adding that National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), had begun the project.

In addition, he said the state had also keyed into the 700-metre Alape access route to link the port, as demanded by the Federal Government to expedite the seaport projects.

It’s now clear that the federal government wants the state to construct the road before they can commenced development of the project. That may be right but I hardly see it as a proper move. Something worth doing is worth doing well and it’s awkward for a $1 million project to be in the way of a $50 million project.

III) BARO SEAPORT 

This one of the very few projects that have met their successful completion this year. Guess what, the Baro project is located in Niger state. One thing worthy of note though is that Baro seaport is a rather cheap one, in comparison with the other giant and budget-sagging ones out there. The project cost about 2.5 billion naira only.

Check out this publication by Tribune Online 

The N2.5bn Baro river port cargo handling equipment installation has been completed and set for commissioning, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has stated.

The Baro Riverport in Niger State, awarded in 2011/12 at a cost of N2,563,499,248.00 by the Federal Executive Council to Messrs CGGC Global Projects Ltd has been abandoned and left in ruins before the Sen. Adeleke Mamora led management resuscitated and turned its fortune around.

Somehow this project managed a speedy completion unlike the rest. And it’s the only port project in the North. Does it’s position in the North have anything to do with its speedy completion?

Is there a Conspiracy to Deny southerners of Seaports?

I stand to reason that it does. But can one prove it? Does it even make any sense that projects in Northern Nigeria to get completed faster than others in the other regions?

In one way, it makes sense. We know this is Nigeria and things aren’t working exactly how they should. With a northern president in charge and a parade of Northern officials as well as Northern-controlled ministers, any reason can be dished out to stop projects in the south like that of calabar channel while those in the North like Baro seaport is accelerated and those in the south like Alape inland port is stagnated. Yes, any reason could be put forward.

It is awkward that the inland port at ondo was stagnated because of a 1km road while that of Niger seaport was pushed through under similar circumstances . Read this:

” The federal government has insisted on the construction of the access road to avoid the repeat of what happened in Baro Port in Niger state when access road was completely left undone even till the commissioning period” Ogunleye said.

This Goes to mean that while the access road to Niger seaport project was left undone even at the point of commissioning, the ondo seaport was stopped because the same access road wasn’t constructed. While the calabar port was completely killed on allegations that the contractor swindled money without the contractor being brought before the court.

Dangers of denying others of their fair share of the national cake

I don’t know if am right but there are signs here which affirm that just like in any other thing going on in Nigeria, there’s a grand conspiracy by the Northern Bourgeois against the sidelined southerners especially the Igbos.

Let’s not forget that Onitsha River Port project in Anambra state has been completely abandoned for decades now. This conspiracy doesn’t end with just seaports though. It has been observed in other projects like the second Niger Bridge. Even though concerned persons have been called up to the senate house under Buhari’s administration to give account of the Second Niger Bridge, little or no progress has been recorded so far on the project’s progress.

Is there an end to these unfair treatments? 

Truly there’s none. It has always been this way and the perpetrators does not know when to stop beating their less privileged counterparts. The result of such maltreatment is the emergence of secessionist groups like IPOB led by Nnamdi Kanu which although peaceful in their approach could become dangerous and violent. This seems to be the most probable outcome and at the ripe stage, it could be as what’s going on in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions presently.

Will the leaders of Nigeria let this injustice get to that level? Only time will tell.

Author: Precious Mmeso

Am Precious and I believe in progress, development and a better living for everyone. Beyond believing, I have resolved to commit my energy and resources towards this Vision knowing fully well that one day, we will get there.

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