By Lucy Ogalue
Abuja – Dr Dakuku Peterside, Director-General, Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), says corruption discourages investment and growth of the country.
Peterside told newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja that corruption impacted negatively on the society and should not be encouraged.
“Now the other dimension of corruption which our people keep ignoring is that it discourages investment in our country and without investment we cannot grow.
“It is investments that create jobs, wealth, investment and opportunities for our people. It also enhances the quality of living of the people.
“In an atmosphere of corruption, commerce cannot thrive; commerce is another catalyst for growth.
“If commerce do not thrive the people suffers, they don’t even have access to goods and services produced in other parts of the world they think they need.
“And they lose their sense of dignity because their labour does not give them reward of self-worth. So corruption must be of interest to every well-meaning Nigeria,’’ Peterside said.
The director-general reiterated that Moody, the global rating agency, recently downgraded Nigeria from stable to negative, adding that it called for concern.
He said the rating would impact on the money we can get from multilateral agencies, foreign direct investment, our ability to access loans and other aspects of our national life.
Peterside commended the present administration under which he said the country’s corruption perception index improved.
He, however, said that the position of Nigeria is not where it ought to be, advising that Nigeria should thrive more to ensure complete eradication of the menace in our society.
On the Israeli contract, Peterside said there was no contract for the Israeli to come and man Nigerian waterways.
According to him, there is a deep blue project, a code name for an integrated water ways surveillance and infrastructure project.
He said a firm was hired to provide surveillance and infrastructure as well as necessary assets needed to build our intelligence capability and respond to threats in our maritime environment.
He said: “the second aspect of their work is to help us re-train our forces so that they can fight on sea and man our waterways. Now, I chose my words, Nigerians will man our waterways, Nigerians will man the assets we use in fighting on our waterways.’’
On audit of agencies, Peterside commended the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, for the initiative while expressing the agencies commitment to support the course.
He said: “we are public institutions. It is not about us being ready to open our books. Our books are permanently open. We have done much to stem corruption and to run a transparent and open system.
“That is why we are automating our entire process in NIMASA, so that it becomes easier for anybody to access our books.
“We are public institution, the only power we have is because the Nigerian people donated their power through the National Assembly and the National Assembly made an Act to establish NIMASA.
“We are not powerful because of whom we are, we are powerful because the Nigerian people gave us the power to act on their behalf.
“To ensure that we minimise risk in the maritime sector, regulate the sector and promote the participation of Nigerians in the sector, that is our mandate.’’
The Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemi Saraki said that corruption was a global phenomenon, adding that the Ministry of Transportation was working to contain it.
“We have deployed the Ports Support Services Portal (PSSP) and the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) which are not only valuable tools in the ease of doing business but will minimise human contact, thereby reducing the prevalence of corruption.