The Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) has called on the federal government to assist its members in the acquisition to acquire more vessels so as to unlock the nation’s maritime economy and reduce Nigeria’s over dependence on crude oil revenue.
The President of SOAN, Dr. Mcgeorge Onyung, made the appeal while speaking at the first Lagos International Shipping Expo, with the theme: “Shipping, Global Economy and National Development.”
Having played in the industry for many years, Onyung said ship owners have the key to unlock the national economic prosperity, if Nigeria has enough ships to be able to enjoy what is in the blue economy.
The SOAN boss stressed that Nigeria required more ships to be globally competitive in the shipping trade and to unlock economic prosperity.
Specifically, he stated, “Ship owners holds the key to unlock the nation’s economic prosperity because we know if there is no shipping, there is no shopping, which is why there is a connection between shipping and national development and, of course, shipping controls 90 per cent of the global economy.”
He added: “In addition, our seafarers are the most important workers on earth as declared by United Nations and we, ship owners, value them because their future is our development. “We cannot have ships and then hand them over to those who are incompetent. That is why you see them as a member of our family.”
Speaking on the importance of the event, he said SOAN organised the event in order to speak with one voice so that stakeholders and government who regulates them would be able to listen and proffer solutions to the challenges facing ship owners.
Also speaking at the event, the Chairman, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Committee in the House of Representatives, Legor Idagbo, commended the SOAN for organising the event, which showcased the role of the shipping value chain.
According to him, “This is not just for Nigeria’s national economy, but indeed the global economy accounting directly or indirectly for 90 per cent of the global international trade.
“On the eve of major upcoming legislative interventions: the amendment of the Nigerian Content Act, the Finance Bill 2019 and the Petroleum Industry Bill, I must confess the timing of this event is impeccable. The National Assembly shares a special bond with the maritime industry. We are partners in progress.
“The real story of the Cabotage Act 2003 and the Nigerian Oil and Gas industry Content Act 2010 is no that they were both Private Members Bills, but how they vividly demonstrated the commitment and determination of extraordinary Nigerians in the maritime industry who were able to take advantage these legislation and use them to successfully transform their industry into a multidimensional enabler, actively supporting several critical sectors of our economy and employing thousands of Nigerians.”
He said ship owners clearly established the value of the partnership of legislation and entrepreneurship in the successful implementation of policies.
He therefore emphasised that a lot more needed to be done to incentivise local investments in the sector.