Determined to harness the gains of the Nigerian maritime industry in order to create employment opportunities for the nation’s youths, ensure economic growth, Shipowners in the country have decided to pursue a seamless collaboration with relevant stakeholders and key players, particularly those in Government.
A chieftain of the Ship Owners Association of Nigerian (SOAN), Alfred Okoigun disclosed this in a chat with newsmen in Lagos.
He stressed that industry operators and key players could not afford to bicker further, at the expense of needy youths, adding that a brainstorming session would take place next month to fashion a plan.
While stating that much background work was already achieved, he said the session would further strengthen and consummate the vision of the Nigerian Shipowners, in the overall interest of the Nigerian people.
“We are beginning to get the collaboration of the industry players like the Nigerian Local Content Board, the NAPIMS office, NIMASA, etc, with every one of them, not just listening but even asking us: what are your challenges; and where can we help you. This was not a common thing before,” indicated Okoigun.
Okoigun stressed that the task of ensuring a positive economic turnaround is a joint mandate, hence the total involvement of all shipowners, irrespective of affiliations to collectively explore how the future of the youths could be brightened.
“Can you imagine the fact that with the quantum of water we are endowed with, we have not harnessed and prospered from it? If you go to Holland, Sweden, Norway or even Dubai of recent, without much of water; you can see what they are doing with their waters.
“But here, we are just scratching the surface! So, this year is to really get the Government and the key players together, to enable all parties, brainstorm and explore how we need to continue to collaborate and improve together in the overall interest of both the Maritime industry and the citizens.
“Let’s collaborate together; let’s broaden out and let’s leave a legacy!”, the shipping mogul stated, emphasising that operators have actually achieved far more than verbal recognition or acceptance by the relevant decision makers; and should therefore work harder at consolidating their gains.
“For instance, our collaboration with the Local Content Development Board had tilted the table favourably for Nigerians.
I remember some eight or ten years ago, when some of us were in to bid for contracts with any of the IOCs, the list of the bidders were usually of the foreign companies.
“For you to be even admitted to be one of the participants was a big deal. But today, I have seen that the list of the bidders approved by NLCMB was 99 per cent of our local companies, at least in some categories!, “he said.
Speaking also about the occasion, the SOAN President, Greg Ogbeifun, expressed satisfaction that the shipowners between its last AGM and now, not only achieved at least 70 per cent of its mission/ goals but also achieved a paradigm shift in the perception of shipping in the country.
“One of the great achievements of SOAN in the last 12 months is that as a result of our last outing, there has been huge paradigm shift, from the way Government and government agencies have been tackling issues relating to the Maritime sector.”