Lagos, Nov. 7, 2023: The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) and the Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations and Government Owned Companies (SSASCGOC) have kicked against moves by the National Assembly to revisit the Ports and Harbour Bill.
MWUN and SSASCGOC said this at a joint press conference on Monday in Lagos.
Speaking at the meeting, the President General of MWUN, Mr Adewale Adeyanju and the President, SSACGOC Maritime Branch, Comrade Akin Bodunde urged President Bola Tinubu to be wary of legislation that would kill his commitment towards job creation for Nigerians.
They stated that many Nigerians would be jobless with the passage of the Bill into law.
They explained that the job creation would come through the newly created Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy.
Recall the Bill was squashed from becoming law by the 8th Assembly through the intervention of well-meaning Nigerians, stakeholders and the exerted efforts of the two in-house unions- MWUN and SSASCGO
“We wish to note that this said Bill if allowed to be passed into law will have far reaching grave consequences on the security of the nation as it will cede harbour, jetty and terminal operations into private hands.
“We are therefore not surprised that the bill is being vigorously sponsored by certain unpatriotic individuals within the maritime sector, who are hell bent on appropriating our common wealth and cornering same into the lining of their individual pockets and that of their cronies.
“We would have thought that given our persistent cry and various notices pointing to the deplorable state of our various nation’s seaports, decrepit state of port access roads, collapsing quay aprons, and the general failure of infrastructures within our ports the focus of this 10th National Assembly would have been to find solutions to them.
“The myriad of problems bedeviling our ports, terminals, jetties and oil and gas platforms and even the need to dredge all the ports particularly Calabar, Warri, Onne for increased efficiency.
“They should not through clandestinely and recklessly seek misappropriate public infrastructure through unfriendly legislation for the benefit of individuals whose only interest is capital accumulation and not the general public good of all,” he said.
He said they were surprised that the sponsors of this Bill had refused to obey the extant maritime regulations, standards and laws to order.
He said that the Bill as being proposed, if passed into law would render the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) employees jobless and endanger the productivity of other port users.
“It is our believe that allowing this Bill to be passed into law will effectively institutionalise the evil concept of casualisation of workers and as well negate the provisions of the Pension Reform Act 2004 as amended.
“This is in direct contrast to the avowed promises of President Bola Tinubu to ensure the provision of about five million jobs for Nigerians through the newly created Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy,” he said.
Adeyanju added that the MWUN and SSASCGOC would not fold their hands and allow few unpatriotic Nigerians within the industry to rip-off the nation’s common wealth and render the sector unproductive.
“This infamous Bill will only create poverty, hopelessness, hunger and generate avid bitterness amongst the already impoverished workers and Nigeria citizenry.
“We unequivocally reject the Bill seeking to repeal the Act that set up NPA in its entirety.
“Consequently, we confirm our absolute vote of confidence on the NPA Act as it currently relates to the Nigerian state and the well-being of the workers in the sector,” he said.
Adeyanju also drew government’s attention to the duplication of functions of MDAs within the maritime sector, and urged government to define clearly the functions of each government agencies to avoid unnecessary conflict.
According to him, government must ensure appointment of technocrats with vast experience in maritime operations in consonance with the laid down laws to head these agencies.