Barrister Enoch Bakson Kanawa is a Lawyer, astute administrator, businessman and pastor. Very energetic and full of ideas, he recently hosted Transport Day in his Abuja office, speaking on his aspiration to become the national President of Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) and the state of Nigerian roads, while proffering solutions to some of the challenges pointed out. He spoke with Ignatius Ushie.
Enoch Bakson Kanawa, is from Taraba state, holds a Bachelors degree in Law from the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria and proceeded to the Nigerian Law School and was called to Bar In 1991. He was Executive Secretary of NARTO from 1997 to 2009. As a man that loves new challenges, he resigned his appointment at NARTO to join MRS Oil/Gas Company as Director, Government and Public Affairs, till date.
What is your impression and assessment of the state of roads in Nigeria?
As the name of the Association implies, our business in NARTO cannot strive without good roads infrastructure, the roads are indispensable when it comes to transportation in the country. Before getting to the rail, sea or airports, you must first use the roads. The road transportation is doing almost 80-90% of movements of goods and services in Nigeria.
I will want to suggest to the President to declare a state of emergency on our roads. Recently you see the President asking for the approval of the National Assembly to get a loan to fix the infrastructural decay, whereby the roads are a part of.
More people are dying because of bad roads, kidnappings armed robbery etc. As an association that use the roads regularly, we can as well provide alternatives and even proffer solutions on how to get out of these quagmires and begin to enjoy better roads services in the country. Once the roads are addressed, you have solved the problems of unemployment, banditry, kidnapping, herdsmen and even the economy. Even the price increase of goods and services today is due to bad roads.
How often do you travel by road?
I do quite often, remember, right now am running a campaign to become NARTO President, most times I move on the road. When the Enugu airport was still operational, I flew to Enugu, from there I moved by road to Aba in Imo state and Port Harcourt, Yenegua, Benin and back to Abuja all by road.
When I was going to the North East, I flew to Maiduguri, then went by road to Bauchi, Gombe, Potiskum, Yola and then flew back to Abuja. So I can tell you categorically that I use the roads and that is why I know their conditions. Lest I forget, the Buhari led administration is trying their best in fixing the roads but all am saying is that they can still do more.
Why do you want to become NARTO President, since you were the Executive Secretary before?
If I must be frank with you, there is a difference between the Executive Secretary and the National President. While the Executive secretary is the administrative head of the Association, the National President is seen or suppose to be somebody with a vision not just anyhow vision but one that will drive the Association into another level. I have seen that as NARTO President, I have so much to offer in terms of policies and services.
Tell us some of the visions you have for NARTO?
Let me begin by saying one of the things we will do if I become the president is I will want to have regular engagement with the government of the day in line with policies guiding our Association. I intend to have a permanent staff deploy to the National Assembly whose duty will be to constantly lobby and initiate and influence bills that are favourable to the Association and the welfare of its members.
I will also liaise with government to see how we can get a fair deal and concession in the road sector. We cannot be waiting for budgetary allocations and expect our roads to be better, No. I will ensure we operate with the world best practices where all infrastructures within the road sub-sectors are all in place so that our businesses can strive.
What can you say is the solution to better roads in Nigeria?
I tell you Sir, there is no alternative to better roads in Nigeria than concessions, private operators must come in, and that’s why I said earlier that I will join hands with the government of the day to see that we get a fair deal for our members.
What is the position of NARTO on-road concessioning?
We are in total support of it and we are ready to support the government to achieve it as a pure business and professional body, it will help our business.
Will the construction of railway affect your operations on the road?
No sir. As great as America is, not all cities or settlements are linked by rails, but everywhere is linked by roads. It is a good thing that the government is making progress in the rail sector, but the roads cannot be abandoned. They are complementary to each other hence there can co-exist and still function better. We are not opposed to rail development and will never work against its existence.
What is your message to NARTO members concerning your aspiration?
Well, my message is simple and clear. Before voting, please recognise experience, knowledge in the industry, character and integrity. All these qualities, to the Glory of God, I have and it places me ahead of all other contestants and fellow aspirants to the position am vying for in NARTO. I know the industry very well, I was a member of the board of PPPRA, I am on the board of Petroleum Equalization Fund.
How will you work with security agencies to put your members and other road users on a safer road?
As I said before, all these will be achieved through regular interactions with both the Military, police and other security agencies.

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