Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Okowa, Uduaghan, Others Calls For Collaborative Effort To Revive Warri Port.


By FIDELIS EGUGBO

Reviving the Warri port took centre stage on Thursday, 17th May, 2018 as the Governor of Delta state, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, his predecessor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, former Director-General of NIMASA, Prince Temi Omatseye, and others brain-stormed on how to revive the port.

This was at the opening ceremony of the 1st Warri Economic Summit organised by the Warri South local government council.

From their submissions, making the Warri port functional will impact greatly on the economy of the state and beyond, but the issue of collaborative efforts was prominent.

From Agbor where the containers will pass through to the North back to Warri, the issue of how all Deltans and stakeholders should collaborate for a seamless operation of the port re-echoed.

They made it obvious that it is impossible for the port to be fully operational without ensuring that the gateway to the Port; local government areas like Okpe, Uvwie and others provide safe passage for containers.

For those who will make use of the port from the eastern part of the country, it is a good omen that Governor Okowa's administration has taken the bull by the horn to continue with the Asaba/Ughelli road dualization project initiated by his predecessor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan. Such road and others are very important to ensure ease in the evacuation of goods from the Warri port.

It was gladdening to note that the Warri port in a way, is one of the fulcrums for the overall socio-economic development of the state. For instance, Warri South local government council under the Chairmanship of Hon. Michael Tidi is not in position to provide land for the construction of park for tankers and very likely, trailers which Governor Okowa disclosed during the summit that the Uvwie Monarch has provided more than 50 hectares of land for the construction of an ultra-modern tankers’ park.

“it is our sincere hope that with the anticipated dredging of the Escravos bar, bigger ships can berth at the Warri port and this should lead more businesses to return to Warri, the industrial hub of Delta state.

Let me use this opportunity to commend the Nigerian Port Authority for awarding the contract for the dredging of the Escravos channel. This project is necessary for the port to regain its pivotal role in the economy and it is my belief that we can use the port as a platform to promote the growth and transformation of the state and national economies,” the Governor said.

While stating that his administration was committed to providing a genial atmosphere for private enterprises to flourish by proving peace and the building of strategic infrastructures across the state, the Governor stated, “the theme for this summit: Warri Rising is most appropriate, as Warri is no doubt the economic nerve center of the state and also the most populated. It is that, which makes this summit critical to our overall vision to develop the state. Warri began trading with Europe more than 500 years ago.”

Also, the issue of security challenges, sea pirates, among others also came up and it was overwhelmingly agreed that the generality of the people will gain more when there is booming business in Warri through a functional sea port than few individuals engaging in criminal activities that are crippling economic activities.

I foresee a future where criminal activities will be reduced to the barest minimum in the state as those who engaged in such would be involved in ensuring a crime free, peaceful environment for economic activities to thrive.

The criminals of today will have a change of heart to the extent that criminals elsewhere will not come and disrupt the growth of their communities. From the communities in the creeks to those in the upland, the issue of security will become that of every one, parents, youths because, it is becoming glaringly clear that the people gain more when there is stability than when criminals makes genuine business difficult for well meaning business men cum industrialists.

Dr Uduaghan who spoke about his engagements with different groups to ensure that there is safe passage for ships entering the Warri port from the sea, submitted that, “the youths must accept that the Warri port must work.

This whole exercise is about the youths, their future and I congratulate Hon. Tidi for organising this event.”
The Warri Economic Summit was really, an eye-opener to what Deltans have lost not only as a result of the non-functioning of the Warri Port, but, criminal activities in the sea, youths disturbing property developers in the name of ‘deve’, among others.

For instance, the General Manager of Chevron Nigeria Limited, Mr Sam-Ogbemi Daibo who was represented at the occasion made it clear that no developer will invest in an area he is not sure of his investment and will readily take his property to a friendly environment than a hostile area.

Of course, Governor Okowa's administration is already working to outlaw any action that will affect the development of property in any part of the state.

Hon. Tidi who is the brain behind the summit made it clear that he desires a Warri that will be the economic hub of Delta state, stating at the opening ceremony that “Warri needs to regain her pride of place as a business hub in Nigeria and in West Africa and the 2-day summit is to rebrand Warri away from negative connotations of the last decade or two, identify sector Warri can be number 1 or 2 in business within the next 3 years and identify what can be done to revive maritime trade in Warri within the next 6-12 months.”

The Council Chairman at the summit which was attended by the Olu of Warri, His Majesty, Ogiame Ikenwoli, former chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in Delta state, Chief Kingsley Esiso, stakeholders in the maritime, agriculture, finance, oil and entertainment sectors listed some of his achievements within the few months of his being in office which includes renovation of the secretariat of the Warri South local government council to depict a friendly environment for investors, ensuring a clean environment, giving boost to security in the area, introducing electronical means of all types of payment to the council, among others.

Definitely, with the zeal with which Hon. Tidi is working to restore the glory of Warri, it is very vital for other local government areas to in practical terms, compliment the efforts of Governor Okowa's administration to engender development from the grassroots level.

Governor Okowa has provided the enabling environment for investments to thrive in the state but, the investors will go to the communities, they will not site their industries at Government House. As such, the local government councils should work with the traditional rulers in their domains, the youths and their parents to ensure conducive environment for socio-economic activities to thrive. Who will be proud of coming from a community or local government area that is notorious for criminal activities?

In some communities, the youths who engage in the collection of “deve” are emboldened to do such by their community leaders and in most cases, they are aware that their actions are criminal in nature as they uses guerrilla tactics to extort money from developers.

There are laws against wilful extortion, threat to lives, destruction of property, kidnapping, armed robbery, but, the modus operandi of the youths has made most property developers not to resort to the law for solace, rather relocating to safe havens or paying the extortionate.

Without the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders, especially council chairmen instilling in different community youths and their traditional rulers the need to allow developmental projects to take place, criminal activities will continue to be on the rise.

Personal encounter with these youths will make it obvious that no one in his right frame of mind will use force to stop developmental projects in his community. Again, from historical perspective, “deve” could be traced to mood of revenue collections by the local government councils.

Imagine what occupies these youths that engage in extortion when there are no developers in their areas. Your guess could be as good as mine.

It was good to hear Hon. Tidi stating that the issue of youths stopping developmental projects is almost non-existent in Warri South local government area.

Tidi in an interview, disclosed that youths of different communities in his area have been made to understand that they benefit more when there is flourishing businesses in their areas and are always willing to encourage property developers than stunt the execution of projects in their communities.

He stated that results were achieved through constructive engagements with the youths of different communities. 
Governor Okowa has not hidden his passion for the speedy development of Delta state, as he has urged prominent Deltans to come back home and invest.

He has also attracted foreign investors and with what is being witnessed in the state, the onus is on different communities to allow investments to thrive in their area or chase such investors to safe havens.

One cannot but, commend Hon. Tidi for taking proactive steps to restore the lost glory of Warri, his desire should be encouraged by all stakeholders bearing in mind that the multiplier benefits of Warri working again will impact on several other local government areas of the state and beyond.

Imagine a Delta State with functional sea ports, airports and good roads. It is possible, but we all have different roles to play.

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Disclaimer: Comment expressed do not reflect the opinion of Isaac Yoma