June 15, 2024

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2023 elections: Maritime stakeholders demand social contract from Kwankwaso, other presidential candidates to secure 15million votes

2023 elections: Maritime stakeholders demand social contract with Kwankwaso, other presidential candidates to secure 15million votes

Conveners and Managers of the Prime Maritime Project said it has concluded plans to engage the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) Presidential candidate, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso at a town hall meeting to tell stakeholders his agenda for the maritime sector ahead of the 2023 general election.

The group disclosed that apart from Kwankwaso, the initiative will also feature other Presidential candidates including the Labour Party, the Peoples Democratic Party, All Progressive Congress and other major political parties in the country to sign a social contract with stakeholders on what they should expect if they come into power in 2023.

According to the organisers of the project, the idea was borne out of the need to bring out the best candidate that can change the sad narrative of the maritime sector ahead of the new political dispensation.

Speaking to journalists in Lagos on Wednesday, Chairman of the forum planning committee, Elder Asu Beks, lamented that the maritime industry has suffered neglect over the years despite being the second highest revenue earner to the nation and holding a whooping 91 trillion worth of resources and investment.

He said the town hall meeting was to challenge the presidential candidates on how they intend to develop the maritime sector, which will therefore serve as a guide to the stakeholders on who to vote for during the forthcoming general election.

He disclosed that industry stakeholders including shipowners, maritime lawyers, freight forwarders and haulage operators are expected to be at the event, where they will present their demand to the presidential candidates adding that no serious candidate will ignore the sector, which he said has about 15 million votes to deliver.

He said, “When you look at the voting population in the maritime sector, no serious candidate that wants to win this election will ignore the maritime sector. In fact, we have nothing less than 15 million votes in the sector.

“We feel that this sector cannot be taken for granted any longer and so we came up with this idea to challenge key presidential aspirants: NNPP, Labour party, APC, PDP, PRP, ADC and SDP. We already have an itinerary where we are to engage the candidate one after another and the first to take shot is the NNPC presidential candidate on the 23rd of August where we are going to have a town hall meeting and we have invited critical stakeholders from all the sectors including maritime lawyers, shipowners, freight forwarders, divers, haulage operators to come and have a town hall meeting with the candidate of the NNPP.

“Like we already know, most of the appointees in this sector in the past eight years have been politicians and so we have found it very difficult to drive the sector because they come with their political interest.”

“We are also saying that we are overdue for a ministry of maritime affairs. There are a lot of issues that are going to be thrown up on that day, there will be question and answer session and at the end, there will be a communique of which the candidate will now sign the social contract with us and if we are satisfied with what they say they are going to do, we have the 15million votes to give to them in 2023 when the elections are coming up.”

Also speaking, Director, Administration and Communications, PMP, Kingsley Anaroke said the sector has faced many years of neglect despite its huge potentials, hence the need to engage the presidential candidates.

Anaroke who frowned on the non- capturing of the maritime sector as a single contributor to the nation’s economic growth by the National Bureau of Statistics, noted that now is the time to enter a social contract with the presidential candidates and industry stakeholders on what they intend to achieve if voted for in the next general election.

He said, “The maritime industry has faced so much neglect even right from the military era. A recent visit to the eastern ports showed that these ports are long overdue for rehabilitation over 100 years in existence. So that tells you that it is a long year of neglect.

“Politics is about interest, so we want to identify with your aspirations so that you can identify with us. It is ‘give and take’. We have over 15 million voters in this industry. It is unfortunate that the National Bureau of Statistics does not recognize the maritime industry but you cannot move a cup of oil out without the waters. So, we want the sector to be given the attention it deserves.”

In his remarks, Founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarder (NAGAFF) who is also the Chairman of the NNPP Board Chairman, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, lauded the initiative just as called on industry stakeholders to support the NNPP to address the challenges bedeviling the maritime sector and the country at large.

He said Nigeria is suffering a system breakdown as the country has never been so divided the way it is currently. He said this was because politicians tell a lot of lies with nobody to hold them accountable and because of the level of poverty in the country, they play with the intelligence of Nigerians with bags of rice during political rallies.

“What we are seeing today was a thought that one could say is an innovation. Before now, politicians engage Nigerians as to what they will do and they tell all sorts of lies and fake promises and nobody is holding them responsible and the worst scenario is due to the level of poverty and corruption in the country, they play with our intelligence with bag of rice, motorcycles and you see that during their rallies, it is still the same crowd in the political parties.

“With the situation now in the country, there is a system breakdown, It has never been this bad. Nigeria has never been divided like this. But when the going gets tough, tactics should take over. Power is not given, it is taken or negotiated,” he said.

Aniebonam described Kwankwaso as a special breed to lead Nigeria saying that “NNPP is a child of circumstance arising from what we saw and what we thought and the divinity in it is God’s intervention. It is better to fight from inside than fighting from outside.

Everybody in this country is looking for a new Nigeria and we have the name and what it takes to deliver.”

The town hall meeting is scheduled for Tuesday at the Sheration hotel in Lagos.




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