Launch Of The Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)/ Port Service Support Portal (PSSP)

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I am extremely pleased to be here on this notable occasion, the launch of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for all government agencies operating at Nigerian ports, as well as the launch of the Port Service Support Portal (PSSP). It is indeed, heartwarming to learn of these laudable initiatives undertaken by the Ministry of Transportation in conjunction with the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), the Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption Reforms (TUGAR) and the Independent Corrupt Practices & Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

The delivery of this project is clearly a major achievement in enhancing improved predictability and transparency of the system. Furthermore, the PSSP would serve as a well-defined mechanism for the handling of internal and external complaint about both operational and integrity issues.

The Project Steering Committee (PSC) comprises all government agencies at the Port and the Federal Ministry of Finance.  This is in tandem with this Administration’s emphasis on strong coordination and cooperation among government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs).

Let me commend the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the exemplary leadership of the Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, the Honourable Minister of Transportation, for undertaking this audacious task of issuing the Standard Operating Procedures and launching a Port Service Support Portal (PSSP).

I must also recognize the efforts of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), who, as the Economic Regulator for the Ports, took on the task of harmonizing the Standard Operating Procedures.

I particularly appreciate the support of the Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption Reforms (TUGAR), and the Independent Corrupt Practices & Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), whose support has significantly contributed to actualizing today’s launch.

In addition, I thank our international partners, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), for their technical support, which was given consistently though out this project.

Indeed, I am told that the process that culminated in today’s launch is a journey since 2011, and by sheer determination and persistence, you have all attained this important milestone.

The SOPs and PSSP would not only streamline processes for port operations, but they would also serve as an important testament of the need to continue to cooperate and remain committed to our collective efforts to drive inclusive economic growth and development in Nigeria.

The benefits of the entire initiative are glaring, ranging from a more efficient port administration, to the incidental effect of making it much easier to do business in Nigeria.

A key component of this Administration’s change agenda is the development of a diversified non-oil sector economy. To achieve this target, the Ports must play their role in making it easier to trade across borders, as well as drive Nigeria’s trade policy.

Better port procedures have a direct impact on the business environment for Nigerian and foreign businesses, and could, in turn, enhance our economic development.

An enhanced port administration would significantly make it easier for Nigerian businesses to import components needed for industrialization, and export their goods to other countries easily.

This administration has a cardinal focus of making it progressively easier to do business and to develop policies that reflect that the government is a partner and not an adverse regulator or competitor to business.

His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari recently approved the formation of a Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council charged with the duty of reforming Nigeria’s business climate. I have the privilege of chairing that Council.

This project derives from a conviction that an easier business environment leads to increased activities of Small and Medium Enterprises, and inversely shared prosperity and industrial capacity.

This productivity and competitiveness focus of our administration can only be accomplished when government policies are transparent, predictable and friendly to businesses.

This administration is therefore irrevocably committed to achieving a legacy of shared prosperity and inclusive development. The SOPs/PSSP further government’s effort in this regards.

Many countries of the world have proven that without depending on any natural resources, but simply relying on efficient procedures for undertaking Port activities, any nation can position itself as a major export hub and earn significant resources by just being more efficient.

The reality is that while oil accounts for about 14.4 per cent of our national economy, it continues to be the source of 90 per cent of official foreign exchange earnings and prior to this year, up to 76 percent of government revenues.

Having an easy source of revenues has denied Nigeria the opportunity to engage in the critical thinking and prioritization that usually drives development. In order to move forward, we must reduce the current dependence of the federal and state governments on the ritual sharing of revenues earned from oil.

Doing so requires a broader revenue generation effort and diversification of our economic structures, in terms of the drivers of economic activity and sources of foreign exchange.

The SOPs/PSSP have set us on a path – one of enhancing our Port capacity, ensuring the free flow of import/export, reducing corruption in Port procedures, and adopting global best practice.

This is, however, merely the first step, everyone – public and private stakeholders must invest their commitment in the successful implementation of the SOPs and PSSP by following the procedure, not engaging in corrupt practices and putting an extra effort to ensuring that the objectives are accomplished.

We must understand that Nation building is a collective responsibility, and the private sector has a role to play in supporting every effort of the government to move the country forward.

The Ministry of Transportation has made a move forward through the SOP/PSSP, it is time for the private sector users of the port to also play their role of testing the system, helping improve its efficiency by cooperating, but most importantly not circumventing the rules.

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me restate that the present administration will continue to encourage a competitive business environment ultimately characterized by sufficient and efficient policies to support sustained economic growth to further retain and attract much-needed investment in Nigeria.

It is important to bear in mind that apart from ensuring that there is a consequence for corrupt acts, the use of technology in the delivery of public services is an important strategy of the Federal Government. The simple reason for this is that technology ensures that public service is delivered not just out of individual discretion. We have seen the dramatic changes in payroll size with the insistence on the IPPIS electronic platform. Similarly, huge savings in public revenues have been made by the use of electronically driven TSA. We believe that technologically-driven public service is a way forward for.

I, once again, congratulate the Hon. Rotimi Amaechi and the Federal Ministry of Transportation, and all other stakeholders in this project on this important achievement.

I am honoured to now proceed to launch the Standard Operating Procedures (S.O.P) and Port Service Support Portal (PSSP) to the glory of God and the benefit of Nigeria and humanity.

Thank you and God bless Nigeria, God bless you all.