In the past few days, there has been movements and videos suggesting some members of the Rivers State PDP have settled to support Tinubu for president. Several high ranking PDP stalwarts were seen wearing the iconic Tinubu cap.
But before we make yet another mistake to add to the one we made in 2015, we should take a step back and check if we should be supporting Tinubu or Peter Obi, since we have decided not to support Atiku, and rightfully so.
Tinubu has had a history of working against the interests of Rivers State and other Southern states. Lagos under Tinubu became the revenue behemoth it is today partly by subverting Rivers, Delta, and Cross River states based seaports.
Let me explain.
Between 2005 and 2006, the Federal Government concessioned Nigerian seaports at Apapa, Tincan Island, Port Harcourt, Onne, Calabar, Koko and Warri for an initial 10, 15, and 25 years.
This was during Obasanjo’s tenure and he made Atiku, his vice, the head of the economic management team of the country. Everything about privatization, including the ports concessioning, passed through Atiku. He personally determined who got what.
In what observers termed as an abracadabra of the highest order, different seaports were assigned to handle different types of cargo. Onne Port in Rivers state was to handle oil and gas related cargoes, while Port Harcourt Port was said to have gotten fresh food imports (not for the entire nation). Only the two ports in Lagos could handle all types of cargoes (maybe except oil-related ones).
One of the companies that won concession of seaport terminals is INTELS Nigeria. Also recall that Atiku is a shareholder of INTELS. He later sold part of his INTELS shares to . . . . you guessed it, Tinubu.
Due to some machinations between the then Lagos landlord, Tinubu and Atiku, INTELS started charging importers over 300 per cent of what they could pay in nearby countries. This made importers flee Onne Port, making everything importation in Nigeria move to Tin Can and Apapa ports in Lagos.
Calabar, Onne, Port Harcourt, Koko,and Warri ports became moribund and deserted. Only international oil companies like Shell, Agip, Elf, etcetera, whose expenses went to the Federal Government due to their terms of agreement, used the Onne Port for oil-related imports. Over 10,000 workers and related earners lost their sources of livelihood around the Onne Port.
The Port Harcourt Port that was full of activities looked like a graveyard because it was only patronized by importers of frozen fish who sold anywhere around Rivers, Bayelsa, Abia, and maybe one or two other states.
I suspect same faith befell Calabar, Koko, and Warri ports.
While these ports were languishing, Apapa and Tin Can ports were allowed to import everything from huge turbines to vehicles to toothpicks.
The irony of the matter is that majority of the imports cleared in Apapa and Tin Can ended up in Aba and Onitsha which are just 45 and 120 minutes drive from Port Harcourt and Onne respectively.
Lagos State was raking in all the revenues and was able to gazump every other state in terms of revenue. The revenue Lagos makes from the two seaports alone is more than the entire revenue of some states.
WHO SHOULD RIVERS STATE VOTE FOR?
A vote for Tinubu will be a vote to perpetrate this seaport subversion because as you may know, Lagos State has built its own seaport at Lekki. So a Tinubu presidency will kill every other port to ensure the optimal functioning of Lekki, Tin Can and Apapa seaports at the expense of the other Nigerian seaports.
On the flip side, Peter Obi has said repeatedly that under his presidency he will fix the road between Aba and Port Harcourt (and Onne) for a seamless transportation of goods in and out of Nigeria from the southeast.
If such happens, it will not kill the ports in Lagos, no. That’s not the idea. The idea is to ensure that other seaports also function optimally and lucratively.
Most people don’t realize the economic activities around the seaport. Billions of Naira exchange hands between all levels of people due to activities at seaports.
The incoming Sim Fubara administration in Rivers State will have, maybe, an additional 50 per cent extra revenue of what the state earns today if the Port Harcourt and Onne ports return to full capacity.
Whatever some people hope to gain from politics can be tripled if these ports work. The ports economy can easily add over 500 new folks to the millionaires’ list in the state.
Every lover of Rivers State while waiting to vote for Sim Fubara should support Peter Obi for president and jettison Tinubu.
Let wisdom guide us.
Thank you for your time.
Dede Dan, a digital marketing consultant and public affairs commentator, writes from the creeks of Opobo Town just by the Atlantic Ocean. He will vote for Peter Obi for President of Nigeria and Sim Fubara for Governor of Rivers State.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Kaaynan’s editorial stance.