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Group berates Amaechi’s comment on river ports, calls for probe

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The Maritime Industry Advocacy Initiative has called on the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, to resign over his comment that the nation’s four river ports in Lokoja, Baro, Onitsha and Oguta are a waste of public funds.

Executive Director, Maritime Industry Advocacy Initiative, Sesan Onileimo, in a statement made available to The Guardian, said the minister breached his oath of office and insulted the intelligence of Nigerians for encouraging the construction and commissioning of a waste project.

Amaechi during an interview with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), declared Lokoja, Baro, Onitsha and Oguta river ports worthless. On the four ports, he said: “I had this conversation with my friend, Senator (Danjuma) Goje about the viability of the river ports that we have, including Onitsha, Baro, Lokoja and Oguta river ports. And I felt that they were a waste of funds.”

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Onileimo said it was unfortunate that the minister knew that the projects were a waste of taxpayers’ money, yet he made the Federal Government to commit billions into their construction.

He said: “In a saner clime, the Minister of Transportation would have been forced to resign. He would have been told how insincere he is with the affairs of state that he superintends. In some countries, Amaechi would have been charged for deliberately wasting national revenue. But such hardly happens in an environment such as ours.

“How dare Amaechi insult the collective intelligence of Nigerians, the nation’s transport sector and, most especially, indigenes of the states and towns where those river ports are located? How could he willfully waste so much money on projects he understood to be worthless?

“As the Minister of Transportation, can Amaechi, on oath, say that these ports that he glowingly condemned were not subjected to a feasibility study. If they were, what was the result?

“Hasn’t the minister heard of SWOT analysis? Were these river ports subjected to analysis in terms of their strength, weakness, opportunity and threat?

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“Amaechi inherited four river ports, one of which was fully completed while three were at different stages of completion. Yet, he threw his weight behind the projects and caused the government to commit funds, only for him to turn around and say they were never meant to be viable.

“We call on Amaechi to resign for encouraging revenue wastages on the nation’s river ports. By his admission, the ports are white elephant projects that were not meant to serve the nation’s interest, but the parochial and selfish interest of a few politicians.

“We also call on the National Assembly to probe the state of affairs at the four ports. For Baro, the lawmakers should find out why it has remained useless two years after it was commissioned. For Onitsha, it is time to ask the Minister why the river port has not been concessioned or put to use, despite its full completion.

“We also urge the lawmakers to dig into the situation of things at the Oguta and Lokoja ports because huge funds have been expended on them,” he stated.

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