The Illegality Of Appointments Of Boards For Cross River Inland Waterways, Others By Okoi Obono Obla
Illegality of the appointments of Boards for Cross River State Inland Waterways Agency; Cross River Sea Ports Limited and the Cross River State Ports Authority.
Recently the Government of Cross River State under Governor Ben Ayade announced a gale of Political and Board appointments in the State. Surprisingly and curiously, Board appointments were made for three bodies or agencies or Companies or Entities known as the Cross River State Inland Waterways Agency, Cross River Seaport Limited and the Cross River State Ports Authority. These entities or agencies or companies did hitherto not exist in the administrative structure of the State.
There was no time the Cross River State House of Assembly enacted any Law establishing the Cross River State Ports Authority and the Cross River State Inland Waterways Agency. So if there is no law establishing the Cross River State Ports Authority and the Cross River State Inland Waterways Agency respectively before now; how on earth would the Governor proceed to appoint Board of Directors for them?
I have conducted a search in the Corporate Affairs Commission, Abuja in order to find out whether or not the Cross River Seaports Limited has been incorporated or registered! But my search came to naught. So, is the Cross River Seaport Limited that the Cross River State has constituted a Board an illegal entity?
Another question that agitated my mind after these appointments into these agencies were made was does the Government of Cross River State of Nigeria possess with the jurisdictional competence to dabble into the functions and responsibilities supposedly to be carried out by the Cross River State Ports Authority and the Cross River State Inland Waterways Agency respectively?
It is well settled that Nigeria is a Federation or practices federalism. In federalism, there is division of constitutional responsibilities and functions between the Federal Government (Centre) and the federating units (States). These divisions of responsibilities and functions between the Federal Government and the States are clearly spelt out in the Constitution.
So under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) the Federal Government or National Assembly is entitled to implement or legislate on any item listed in the Exclusive Legislative List stipulated in the Second Schedule of the Constitution.
There is also a list known as the Concurrent legislative list also spelt out in the Second Schedule of the Constitution. In this list, the Federal Government or National Assembly and State Government or State Houses of Assemblies are empowered to implement or legislate on every item contained in the Concurrent Legislative List provided in the Second Schedule to the Constitution.
I took pains to comb through the Constitution to find out if the Cross River State Government has the power the constitutional competence or power to create the Cross River State Inland Waterways Agency.
I discovered to my chagrin and consternation that inland waterways is a matter under the exclusive Legislative List of the Constitution which only the Federal Government or National Assembly can legislate on.
Accordingly, Item 36 paragraph B of Part 1 of the Second Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (supra) provide as follows thus:
“Maritime shipping and navigation include –
(b) Shipping and navigation on the River Niger and its affluent and on any such other island waterway as may be designated by the National Assembly to be an international waterway or to be an inter-State waterway”.
It is well settled that the Cross River is an international water way because its straddle Nigeria and the Republic of Cameroons. It is also inter-Sate Waterway because it flows through Cross River State; Ebonyi State and Akwa Ibom State. It is worthy to note that the Cross River is known as Qua Oboe River in Akwa Ibom State.
I agree the Government of Cross River State can establish ‘State Ports” but presently there are no such State Ports! So what is the basis for the appointment of a Board for the Cross River State Ports Authority which is yet to be created by the Cross River State House of Assembly!
Certainly the Cross River State Ports Authority cannot do any business in the Calabar Port (which is the only Port in Cross River State for the time being) under the control and management of the Nigerian Ports Authority. So why is the Cross River State jumping the gun to appoint a board for a non-existent Cross River Ports Authority.
Okoi Obono obla