By Tunde Oso
The Chairman of Total Grace Group, Dr. Henry Akinduro has urged government to open other ports in the country to solve the intractable efforts of decongesting Apapa Ports in Lagos.
Akinduro, speaking at the commissioning of Total Grace Oil & Gas Investment filling station at Kilometre 42, Lekki Epe Expressway, opposite Lagos Business School on Wednesday said if government opens up by rehabilitating other ports like the Igbokoda, Warri, Port Harcourt and Calabar Ports, there would be less pressure on Apapa, Lagos ports.
According to Akinduro, government should also fashion out other means of evacuating cargoes from the Apapa ports are rapidly pursued it will help in the decongesting of Apapa like the railways.
He said, “Although Lagos is also blessed with other major gateway like the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Ikeja, but yet the sea ports, specifically that of Apapa, Lagos remains the main pillar and the determinant of the Nigeria’s economy as a whole, because it is one of the largest generator of revenue to the Nigerian nation after petroleum.
“This implies that if Apapa Ports is sick, Nigeria feels the pain. Based on this reason and in other to make Nigeria returns to her real status the issues affecting Apapa such as congesting should now be given a national attention by all rather than leaving it to be a problem of Lagos State Government alone. This situation have being adding salt to this injury since the beginning of 2015 as no enough truck holding bays or garages available to contain all the trucks & tankers coming in to Apapa to load these products, so as a result many of these trucks and tankers end up using the main roads as their trailer parks when loadings are not done in the ports or jetties and as a queue when the loading resumes while waiting to load the products they are coming to load.
Speaking on the controversial issue of planned deregulation of the downstream sector of the economy, Akinduro said Nigeria has historically subsidised the pump price of petroleum products. The huge amount of the subsidy, which amounts to $1.3billion annually can be used to solve a lot of problems in the country. Until recently, the sector has witnessed acute seasonal product scarcity, hoarding, smuggling, product adulteration, long queues and labour strike actions. The partial deregulation of the sector has made it more attractive to investor resulting in the establishment of private refineries and several retail outlets including Total Grace filling stations across Nigeria. So, to some extent, I support the state governors, pushing for the deregulation. What I however, fear is that the money saved should not be diverted by the politicians. Remember, government said it wants to deregulate the downstream sector of Nigeria oil industry so as to see that petroleum products are provided to the consumers in an undisturbed manner; eliminate waste and corruption, which are penalties of tightly regulated economy; make sure that the supply and distribution of petroleum products are organized and pleasant to consumer; Use income generated from the exercise for expansion and valuable projects that will be of great benefit to the masses. So, when government in its wisdom decides to liberalise the oil and gas sector, it should strictly expend the funds on these above.
The Total Grace boss, speaking on insecurity, maintained that Nigeria is still a good place to invest. “If you want to fish, you look for where there’s water, so, if you want to invest and get returns for your investment, come to Nigeria. God has given us in Nigeria what many other countries don’t have and keep searching for. We have the people, vibrant population-the human capital too, got fertile land for agriculture, we have the minerals resources and we have oil. All we need to do is to harness them for our good. The present challenges we are facing should not deter us from growing our economy. It shouldn’t stop us from investing. It is just a passing phase.
Other countries referred to as developed started from somewhere and all experienced some of these challenges in the past. Nigeria is not the only country experiencing security challenges, as other countries – developed and the developing as well face their own share of the menace. But the differentiating factor between any of these other countries and Nigeria is the security management system employed by each country. Government should give terrorism in the country a lasting solution by tracing it back to the root cause. This is because if it is just stopped by arresting and prosecuting the offenders without solving the motivating factor of their crime, some other youths will still grow and find reason to rebel. Other non-military medium of conflict resolution such as negotiations should be well explored to avoid using violence to solve violence since it may end up creating further tensions.
On corporate social responsibility, he said “Our give-back activities are targeted at the community, especially our customers and are meant to directly raise the livelihood of these stakeholders and ultimately increase their purchasing powers as consumers of our products. Here we share the view that the private sector should complement government in providing for the people, especially in poverty alleviation. Companies cannot truly claim to be successful and adjudged outstanding performers if the economy and people in which they claim to have attained this success are below par – as the case of Nigeria. So, these are some of our company’s objectives in trying to give back to the people and community in which we operate.
He said cutting edge of Total Grace Oil & Gas is because “we don’t engage in industry sharp practices in the petroleum retail business such as product adulteration, manipulation of the pumps, product theft along the supply chain and smuggling of products, diversion of petroleum products to locations other than those approved by relevant authorities. Our customers are gradually realising this, so, this is our cutting edge with which we are beating competition in terms of proliferation of the marketing segment of the oil and gas industry.