We have all had our say about the merits and demerits of a sea port in Eastern Nigeria with our usual curses and defamatory words. The main explainers of why there are not and should not be a sea port in Eastern Nigeria are Mr. Olajide who sees economic and technical reasons and Mr. Udoh who sees political reasons.
Here are some of the reasons against Tinapa and other Eastern sea ports.
Mr. Femi Olajide posits:
We have discussed the technical issues with those ports in the east that makes them uneconomical and commercially unviable.
You just love to repeating your lies despite giving you the reasons for the problems with those ports.
- Those ports are shallow and cannot accommodate deep hull cargo ships.
- Silt deposit because of ocean current meant those ports will need regular dredging to keep them open. Thereby making them uneconomical.
- Shipping lines will only visit ports that are economical and lucrative for them. No eastern port has shown that promise.
- What people agitating for eastern ports are failing to recognise is that shipping lines and port authorities are commercial ventures, show them the potential to make money and they will follow the money. The eastern ports have not made enough or credible business case for the private sector to come in.
Mr. Udoh’s position is as follows:
- Tinapa was destroyed by a conspiracy by the Yorubas and Fulanis the very day it was opened.
- Yorubas ignorantly thought that Tinapa will take away business from Lagos without thinking about synergy that comes with additional ports in other parts of the country.
- The Fulanis believe that having a seaport in this part of the country will empower us against their takeover plans.
- They believe that seaport will provide a route to bring in arms and ammunitions to defeat them the war starts.
- They also believe that a seaport will bring in food, so they will not be able to use food blockade to paralyse us in event of war. Surely Fulani still believe they will overrun us one day. Have you noticed that the only functional seaport at Onne is owned by a Fulani. MD of NPA is a Fulani. The comptroller of Customs is a Fulani…
- Their greatest enemy are the Igbos, Yorubas and Hausa people are so afraid because of the 1967/70 civil war. They hate the Igbos. They are comfortable if Igbo businessman keeps importing goods from Lagos so that they can closely monitor them, than for Igbo man to clear his goods from Rivers, Calabar or Akwa Ibom. As long as we are still answerable to these Satans, there will be no functional seaport around here except it is owned and run by a Fulani just like One. And they made it more expensive for ships to berth there. Only oil companies are allowed.
- The unfortunate thing is that our Niger Delta leaders cannot see and cannot understand the wickedness of the wicked against South South.
One obvious thing is that if one is looking for reasons for not doing something one would find sufficient reasons and if the search is reasons for doing something, there will also be sufficient reasons.
When Ferdinand de Lesseps built the Suez Canal (1869) there were many people who did not think it was possible and the construction resulted in the deaths of many men due to malaria. But today the Suez is a very important world water way saving many lives and boosting world trade and economy. Fore sight as opposed to blind sight.
When Wallace was appointed by Roosevelt (1904) to head the construction of the Panama Canal many reasons were also advanced including the inefficiencies of locks to guide the ships. In 1904 engineering was not as advanced as it is today. Like the Suez the Panama is “God Sent” to world commerce and economy. Fore sight as opposed to blind sight.
The technical issues raised by Mr. Olajide are nothing compared to the challenges both de Lesseps and Wallace, renowned civil engineers, faced and conquered. Building a sea port in Eastern Nigeria like Tinapa will not be considered a new world wonder.
But suppose that is the truth, what is wrong with a new world wonder in Cross River Nigeria?
Mr. Udoh’s political position is more credible. But I will not get into politics in this case, for I will rather think about economics and security.
My economic position is that a country is best served by having as many ports as possible. Moving goods by water is generally cheaper than any of railways, trucks, or airplanes. If Tinapa port is developed to its fullest capacity it will open up all the land mass from Calabar to Maiduguri, the entire geographical Eastern Nigeria (not political Eastern Nigeria). Ground nuts, Palm oil, etc., could be exported from here. Same as imports. If a railroad is built from Calabar to Maiduguri, movement of people in the geographical Eastern Nigeria will be enhanced and many development ideas will crop up. Add a highway to the equation.
A nation is as good as its communication lines.
Security is another main reason for the development of ports in Eastern Nigeria. The capture of Port Harcourt by the Nigerian forces was the beginning of the downfall of Biafra. Without a port, it became impossible to bring in food and other necessities, yes including arms.
Now consider the situation if Nigeria is at war and the enemy seizes, Lagos port. Nigeria would be in the same situation as Biafra. This security reason is one that will compel a Tinapa and other sea ports in Eastern Nigeria.
We cannot afford to cut our nose to spite our face.
Fore sight as opposed to blind sight.
Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba
May 6, 2020