By Shola Oyeyipo
A pro-democracy group, the New Nigeria Collective (NNC), has asked the leadership of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) to tread with circumspection in the way it is handling its engagement with the Ocean Marine Solution Limited (OMSL), the company supporting the Nigerian Navy to provide security at the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) of the Lagos delineation of the nation’s waters.
In a statement by its National Chairman, Mr. Adeola Adewunmi, the group reacted to a statement recently credited to the NPA and published in a national daily, where it threatened the arrest of any vessel at the SAA, and that any ship found there would be sanctioned also.
Following this, NNC observed that the inexplicable rivalry was gradually becoming a threat to national security, given the sensitivity of the assignment that the OMSL is handling for the country, in collaboration with the Nigerian Navy at SAA.
According to the group, the fact that OMSL has no business with the NPA in the matter presupposes that the government agency has been overreaching itself over time even after the Nigerian Senate once intervened and asked the NPA to steer clear of the SAA, because the contract is between OMSL and the Navy and not directly with the NPA.
Even more disturbing, the group claimed, was the fact that after Senate’s recommendation, which gave OMSL a clean bill and urged it to continue with its otherwise patriotic assignment, the NPA was still headstrong and went ahead to disrespect the Nigerian senate.
“Unfortunately, as it stands today, the NPA doesn’t have any security architecture in place in the Lagos area, not to mention the Port Harcourt area, where pirates’ attacks are uncontrollable and cost of shipping to Port Harcourt has become astronomical, because ships refuse to go there. But the Lagos that seems to be working, because of SAA is about to be destroyed out of sheer vendetta and lack of patriotism
“Instead of encouraging the security solutions that have brought sanity to the Lagos area, all the efforts of the NPA leadership have been to destroy it and bring the Lagos area to the days that ships had to go to neighboring countries to berth and the country lost a lot of revenue and what is even more worrisome is that this service is at no cost to the federal government, so, what is NPA’s problem?” the group asked.
The NNC said it was embarrassed to learn that despite all the interventions that legitimately barred the NPA from harassing the OMSL, it has continued to act as though it was not answerable to anyone, adding that the silent treatment being meted out to it by the OMSL can only explain why the matter has not needlessly escalated.
“The truth of the matter is that the NPA does not even have the power to arrest or announce the arrest of anyone. In the very worst case scenario, if there are infractions at SAA, all that the NPA needs to do is report such to the Navy, which will in turn address the matter.
“But, having followed closely the operations of the OMSL at the SAA, it does not take much to see how the company has been providing the much needed logistics for the navy to function and be on top of their assignment. But this is the kind of support that the NPA has refused to give, even when it was approached,” it said.
The group, therefore, called on the federal government to immediately call the NPA to order to stop distracting the OMSL from doing the job, for which it has been globally acknowledged as outstanding in securing the nation’s waterways and instead, partner them for a productive collaboration in larger interest.