Agbakoba Urges Buhari to Harness N7tn Revenue in Maritime Sector

Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to explore the maritime sector as well as review Nigeria’s trade facilitation and land administration laws in his renewed effort to shore up the country’s revenue sources.

In a letter he wrote the Nigerian leader, the senior lawyer, posited that if properly harnessed, the Apapa Port alone could generate as much as N7 trillion annually for the federal government.

While applauding the early release of the 2021 budget, which he said addresses concerns to reflate the economy, the human rights lawyer noted that it was shocking that Nigeria lacks the critical and essential tools of trade facilitation, which he listed as vessels and airlines.

“One area of great interest that can generate revenue is the Apapa port city. A recent report by a Dutch consultancy firm, Dynanmar shows that Nigeria loses N20 billion daily at the ports, which is N7.2 trillion yearly.

“The second area that can also generate substantial income has to do with trade facilitation. Trade is Nigeria’s second-largest contributor to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but it is shocking that Nigeria lacks the critical and essential tools of trade facilitation which are vessels and airlines.

“So, legislation is proposed to introduce the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) and Air Nigeria. If our local content policy and laws are implemented in terms of trade facilitation, Nigeria can generate over N20 trillion and 10 million jobs in five years,” the renowned maritime lawyer stated.

He noted that the federal government has broadly harmonised its fiscal and monetary policy, but called for more expansionary measures on the fiscal side.

On achieving an efficient land administration, Agbakoba said that a recent study shows that the housing inventory of Nigerian property exceeds $7 trillion, but added that most of this is dead capital that cannot be used as collateral for financial transactions because they are not properly titled.

“Creating an efficient titling system by introducing a Land Use Administration Act will release a lot of revenue into the system. If it is properly done, estimates suggest it can generate N30 trillion over five years.

“Looking at all these areas and without any serious study, it shows that we are almost at N100 trillion. But with concerted deep study, it is possible to hit the N100 trillion mark.

“Government should explore new sources of revenue to close the budget deficit and grow the economy by enacting the Strategic Revenue Growth and Recovery Act”, he advised.

With a budget deficit of about N7 trillion, the senior lawyer stated that how to raise revenue has become a big challenge, thus the need to look at other areas to source for revenue.

“The Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative of Government is very timely. There are five critical elements of the initiative namely: Revenue Generation, Job Creation, Economic Growth, Ease of Process and Reducing Cost of Governance and Leakages.

“This is necessary as Nigeria is faced with an unprecedented revenue challenge exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the crash in oil price.

“I understand the SRGI is targeted at the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigerian Customs Service ((NCS) and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).

“There are many opportunities to realise enormous revenue and jobs from the services sector otherwise known as the soft economy,” he opined.

He disclosed that to that effect, his firm will be hosting a webinar with BusinessDay on the 22nd and 23rd of October 2020 to be opened by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and chaired by the Chairman of Fidelity Bank, Mr. Mustapha Chike-Obi.

“The theme of the webinar is: “How law can be a tool for revenue generation and jobs creation”. Some of the areas we are reviewing include the maritime industry which is the second-largest contributor of revenue other than oil,” the letter informed.

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