President of Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Mr. Greg Ogbeifun has stated that SOAN’s engagement with federal government agencies will facilitate the emergence of a competitive Nigerian maritime industry that is at par with other maritime nations and contribute to the growth of the national gross domestic products (GDP).
Speaking at the 4th All Nigerian Ship-owners Annual Workshop and Dinner in Lagos, Ogbeifun stressed the need to consolidate on the gains made so far in order to reposition the maritime and shipping industry as a strategic driver for the national economic development of Nigeria
SOAN, he said, has through its engagements, increased government’s interest and participation in global maritime opportunities such as the Nigeria Maritime Autumn Event which was held on the 28th of September 2016 with the Theme “Nigeria’s Maritime Industry as a Driver of Growth.”
He gave a breakdown of the ongoing engagements with some of the government agencies, which would not only assist the Nigerian masses in the immediate future, but also transform the country into a truly shipping nation; mentioning areas of engagement with the relevant agencies.
“For instance, the Shipowners are presently collaborating with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in the areas of Cadetship training Scheme, Cabotage, waivers as well as securing Central Bank of Nigeria intervention funds and Special interest rates for the Maritime sector,” he said.
The SOAN president also highlighted that the body is also engaging the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), in the area of vessel categorisation, cadetship / funding support; with the NAPIMS for contract terms, vessel hire rates, dollar / naira payment ratio; with the Federal Ministry of Transportation for Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF); and with the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, on the issue of realistic and meaningful support on Cadetship Training.
In his speech, the doyen of the Nigerian Maritime Industry, Adebayo Babatunde Sarumi specially thanked the SOAN and the leadership of the government agencies for their patriotic spirits, altruistic commitment and noteworthy dedication to national interest, stressing that in spite of the great odds and challenges, he could now truly see a glowing light, at the end of the tunnel.
He encouraged the SOAN, not to rest on its oars, stressing the need to fight for their rights, especially in the mission of growing the Nigerian shipping industry, acquiring vessels, participating in crude lifting and ship breaking; as well as expanding enduring opportunities for massive employment of Nigerian youths.
On his part, Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside said the maritime and shipping industry has now grown beyond its current state because policies had no institutional framework to deliver.
Peterside said: “What differentiate Nigeria from other countries is that while other countries implement their policies wholeheartedly, policies made in Nigeria are never implemented and some die at formulation stage. This is why we have not moved from where we are to another level. Part of the problem also is that we are not ready for globalisation, which is affecting us. While others are well prepared with infrastructure and credit availability, which is not the case in Nigeria.”
NIMASA, he stressed, recognises the role of stakeholders and players in the industry hence the need for collaboration to ensure growth.
“We have identified that funding is a problem for ship owners so we are working with the Central Bank of Nigeria to create a special funding to ship owners. Our argument is that the shipping industry alone can generate about 10 million jobs. When well funded, the ship owners can take that huge number out of the labour market and be able to compete with their counterparts all over the world,” he said.