The House of Representatives and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, may be heading for a round of bickering over the failure of the apex bank to appear before its adhoc committee set up to probe the non usage of ports in the Eastern part of the country.
The lawmakers are threatening to invoke its powers against the CBN governor.
The adhoc committee, which was set up to probe why the Warri, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Onne and Onitsha ports complexes are not being put into maximal use”, had at its inaugural sitting on Thursday summoned several Federal Government agencies and officials, including the CBN.
The panel said their submissions were critical to the investigations into the moribund ports, leading to the congestion of the Apapa Port in Lagos.
After a closed-door meeting with the agencies and officials, who turned up on Monday, the panel condemned CBN for allegedly ignoring its invitation.
The Chairman of the committee, Mr Buba Yakub, who briefed journalists, said: “Some of the agencies were not invited, but because of some of the reports by the agencies during the hearing, we deemed it fit to invite them to give us some information we need.
“Today, they all met with us and they have all made their presentations, except the CBN. We are issuing a last warning to the CBN to make sure they (officials) make themselves available. If not, we will use our constitutional powers to summon them. It is just the CBN that we have not seen and we will use our constitutional powers to make sure they appear before us on this matter.”
Yakub, who decried the state of the ports along the eastern channels, added: “The eastern part of this country; in fact, you can qualify them as the most rugged businessmen we have. Most of the people in maritime trade are from that area. There is no reason why their ports would not work. We can’t subject them to bring their goods through Lagos and start transporting them on the bad roads.”
The lawmaker stated that the panel would particularly investigate the contracts awarded for the dredging of River Niger.
“The government has been doing everything to make sure these things are done. For instance, when you talk about dredging, which is a major factor why big vessels cannot move into the eastern ports, a lot of contracts have been awarded for dredging and the government has been paying. You have lapses on the part of the contractors not delivering or the agencies responsible not making sure these contracts are delivered.
“Then, we can now talk about security because some of the reasons they do not go there is the fear of piracy. We will also look at that, what is NIMASA (Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency) doing? They are the agency responsible for that”, Yakub said.
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