• The Hon. Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja,
• The Hon. Minister Trade, Commerce and Industry,
• The Corp Marshal and Chief Executive FRSC,
• M.D. Urban Development Bank of Nigeria,
• The Director, Vehicle Inspection Office, FCT,
• Divisional Police Officer, Wuse Division,
• President IPMAN,
• National Chairman PTD Branch of NUPENG,
• Members of the Press.
• Fellow stakeholders in the road transport sector.
• Distinguished ladies and gentlemen.
I give thanks to Allah SAW for this opportunity to address such an assemblage of distinguished leaders of our great country Nigeria, leaders of other fellow organizations and other very important personalities here present.
It is indeed my great pleasure to welcome you to this commissioning ceremony and presentation of the Federal Government Assisted Mass Transit Buses to deserving members of the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO).
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, you may recall that the President and Commander -in- Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria His Excellency Dr. Goodiuck Ebele Jonathan GCFR, had on the 8th day of January, 2012 commissioned the Federal Government Mass Transit Scheme Phase II at the Eagle Square Abuja. During the occasion NARTO (Considered as one of the first line commuter transport operators in Nigeria) alongside other transport operators were allocated buses to be used for commuter transport services. This was part of the Federal Government’s Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Program aimed at alleviating the immediate hardship occasioned by the recent withdrawal of fuel subsidy. Today’s occasion is for the presentation of the said buses allocated to NARTO to deserving members”for the realization of this Federal Government objective.
The Nigerian association of road transport owners (NARTO) is an amalgamation of-three hitherto regionally based Transport Owners Associations namely; the Northern Association of Licensed Buying Agents and Transporters (NALBAT) for the defunct Northern Region, the Nigerian Transport Owners Association (NTOA) for the defunct Western Region, and Eastern Road Haulage Association (ERHA) for the defunct Eastern Region. This configuration gave NARTO the status of the umbrella organization for all genuine Road Transport Owners in Nigeria with branches in all the states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
NARTO has been known to be a responsible organization that promotes and encourages peace in the nation. The reason for this is clear; it is a business Association of big time investors on Nigerian roads (with investment in both heavy duty truck and commuter types of transportation), as such we believe that our businesses can only thrive in an environment of peace.
NARTO’s cardinal objective had been the creation of a conducive business atmosphere for its members; and this can only be achieved by co-operation and collaboration with government at all levels and it’s Agencies in Nigeria. We always need government support just as ’ government also needs our support which we are always willing to give for economic growth and progress of our nation Nigeria.
In my inaugural speech during my swearing-in ceremony on the 23rd day of November, 2011, at Kano, my speech during the courtesy visit on the Director General of the State Security Service at its headquarters in Abuja on the 7th day of December, 2011 and my speech during the inauguration ceremony of the newly constituted NEC of NARTO on the 8,h day of December, 2011 at the Sheraton Hotel Abuja. I pledged that my administration will strive to ensure that the government of Nigeria under the leadership of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan; GCFR, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces succeeds. In that regard, we have promised to support government policies designed to deliver the common good to the generality of its citizens which includes but not limited to the following;
i. The deregulation of downstream sector of the Petroleum Industry.
ii. Infrastructural developments in the areas of Roads, Power and Steel, Health, Education and Agriculture; and
iii. The provision of Security in Nigeria
We remain committed to these promises.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is not gainsaying the fact, based on the above declarations, that our association is the first to have publicly declared its support for this deregulation policy of the present administration of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under the leadership of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan GCFR. The position of NARTO in this direction is not new as it was equally the first to have publicly supported the partial deregulation of petroleum product such as the Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) Kerosene (DPK) and Jet A1 Aviation Oil (ATK) by the Federal Government in 2004. Posterity has now vindicated us with the present increase of new converts in the support of deregulation and removal of subsidy on all petroleum products in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.
NARTO commend the courage demonstrated by the present administration of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in implementing this deregulation policy and removal of oil subsidy. This is because the Association associates itself with the reasons advanced bv the Federal Government which calls for this removal of subsidy on all petroleum products particularly as it is design to improve the well-being of Nigerians in all areas of their lives. It is our belief that the generality of the citizens of Nigeria will soon begin to appreciate the long term benefits that will accrue from this policy. We recommend patience from Nigerians.
NARTO further wish to commend the President and Commander – in- Chief Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan GCFR for the palliative measures presently put in place designed to cushion the immediate effect of the withdrawal of subsidy on petroleum products particularly this provision of mass transit vehicles to NARTO and other road transport operators on loan on terms that will enable us subsidize the cost of transportation to commuters generally in the country. This will complement the over 50,000.00 fleet of commuter buses owned and operated by our members across Nigeria as individual investments. I am glad to inform you that NARTO will not fail the Federal Government’s good intentions for Nigeria. In this regard, we are directing our members benefiting from this scheme to reduce transport fares for commuters in conformity with our promise to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in a way that Nigerians will appreciate that Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan GCFR administration intends well for the country.
The Association praises the decision of the Federal Government in retaining the Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF) and it is our belief that this will bring about the availability and stabilization of petroleum products in all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria. The Association also identifies with the policy of the government in waving of import duties on vehicle spare parts.
But the Association also has its demands. As an Association of businessmen involved in the transport sector of the economy; we believe that government support in the following areas will assist us in a reciprocal manner. These include;
i. A comprehensive program of reconstruction, rehabilitation and repairs of ail roads in Nigeria to ease transportation by road, to minimize accidents.
ii. The removal of the 5% withholding tax imposed on our members transporting petroleum products across Nigeria.
iii. Provision of adequate highway security to prevent the frequent hijack of our vehicles conveying petroleum products.
iv. Government scheme that will enable NARTO members access to soft loans for vehicle replacement to boost the road transport subsector particularly in the heavy duty truck transport system to enable the members of NARTO carry on their duties of transporting petroleum products and other goods from the oil depots and the ports to every part of Nigeria.
Finally, NARTO is calling on the Federal Capital Territory Administration under the able leadership of Sen. Bala A. Mohammed to come to its assistance by the provision of necessary support in terms of land allocation to enable the Association build maintenance workshops, depots and garages. We further solicit for continuous provision of necessary transport infrastructure and the provision of enabling environment for our operations as promised by the Honourable Minister of the FCT during the launch of the FCT Mass Transit Buses Scheme on Thursday the 19th day of January, 2012.
Thank you very much.
Long Live NIGERIAN ASSOCIATION OF ROAD TRANSPORT OWNERS (NARTO),
Long live the FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA.
Alh. Kassim Ibrahim Bataiya
National President, Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO)