*Salutes muslims for selflessness, calls for prayers over security, economic challenges
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By Francis Ugwoke
President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Iju Tony Nwabunike, Wednesday said the nation’s maritime industry is capable of cushioning the temporary effect of reduced oil revenue.
In his goodwill message to muslims for the Eid- El -Fitri celebration, Nwabunike described the maritime industry as the nation’s economic low hanging fruits that the country can rely on at this critical time.
He said Nigeria needs prayers to address all current economic and security challenges in the country.
Nwabunike said this year’s fasting and Eid- El -Fitri celebrations were instructive coming at a time the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had declared that it would deduct N112 billion from oil and gas proceeds for April to ensure continuous supply of petroleum products to the country and guarantee energy security.
He added, “Implications include not having oil revenue for the federal government to share with the states and local governments.
“This situation is premised on the hike in crude oil prices on the deregulated downstream sector and the need for uninterrupted supply of petroleum products to citizens”
The ANLCA President said further development of the maritime potentials would be a bold step towards economic diversification for job creation, adding that this will address insecurity and position our ports for hub status in the West and Central African regions
He was of the view that aside the economy, activities in the maritime industry also call for increased security attention which the federal government through NIMASA is rising to the occasion with planned deployment of deep blue assets later this month.
He added, “It is anticipated that this move will go a long way in fighting piracy and other maritime crimes in the Gulf of Guinea and our country’s territorial waters.
“Safety of vessels, cargoes and crews on our waters have direct impacts on our overall economy since the maritime sector is critical for us in the areas of trade, investment, employment and recreation”
Noting that the government has been making efforts to address the Apapa gridlock, Nwabunike called for an expedited action on the ongoing road construction works.
This, according to him, could come in form of 24 hours work by construction workers especially when the rains subside.
He said, “Any stop gap solution to Apapa traffic is bound to suffer setback of either extortion or other forms of sabotage until the roads are fully constructed for seamless access to the ports either through Apapa Oshodi Expressway or Apapa Ijora axis.
I also implore that the Portharcourt to Eleme axis of the East West road and the adjoining portion leading to Onne Port,where you have a beehive of maritime activities, be attended to in good time for the collective benefits of government and port users”
He also commended muslims for the selflessness, self denial and commitment in praying for Nigeria at such challenging times.
He added, “As we join our Muslim brothers and sisters, especially those in the maritime industry, in celebrating Eid- El -Fitri , which marks the end of thirty days Ramadan fasting, I want to sincerely join you in prayers that may Allah accept your acts of worship and piety.
“I specially salute your selflessness, self denial and commitment in praying for our great country at this trying period of economic and security challenges, which I know, together we shall overcome”.
“Finally, for our brothers and sisters who are adherents of the Islamic faith, whatever ungodly thing we abstained from during the holy month of Ramadan, let’s resolve not to return to them after fasting.
Together we can build a more peaceful, prosperous and economically viable country founded on true love for one another”