**Continued from yesterday
The ShipOwner Association of Nigeria (SOAN) President, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun has assured Nigerians that the SOAN election holding today in Lagos will not attract any post-election crisis.
The SOAN Arrowhead gave the assurance in a pre-election media briefing at the weekend, stressing that all his members are absolutely credible, focused and committed.
Let’s look at the SOAN Centre, what is the vision behind it and how is it going to operate?
Any organization or even Government that does not have a long term plan for the future is bound to terminate early. The dream and vision of this centre is not for today or for our generation, but it is something we see that should happen, but we need to take the first step now.
Our idea, let me tell you we have applied for a thousand square metres of land, that’s huge. First of all, there is going to be a financial implication for the acquisition; so it is a target. It is a challenge, but if you don’t have a target, you will not be able to think. When we acquire that land, the next thing is to put in place what we have in mind. I think if the association can try and acquire that land which is the most important thing. Actualizing the dream, you are half way there, because we all know that there are property developers this day, who can actually do a BOT for you (Build, Operate and Transfer).
Now that centre is going to be revenue generating definitely. I mean, we knew what it cost us at our last Gala Night at Eko Hotel. Now, if we have a hall identical to the one we used there and in the centre, we have a hospitality centre like a small hotel, because most of us stayed at the hotel during the event. You can imagine how much we would have saved and if we have other people who are patronizing that facility you can tell that in time, it is going to be revenue generating. So, what am trying to say is that once we acquire the land, we will engage property developers and mortgage companies and we can see what we can work out to make it happen.
From all indications, the SOAN has been a highly vibrant organization to all and sundry. What challenges do you have as a President, in piloting the affairs of the organization?
I have already mentioned one challenge. Our members just like the pressmen and women are so busy that, sometimes to get them out of their engagements to be at meetings on time or at all can be a challenge. But that is understandable. For example, I as the president, am summoned by one of my main client, to a meeting, on the day of the meeting, and I know that, that meeting is going to crystalize into business for the company; I will have a struggle in terms of attending it. So, what I will do is that I will call my Vice President to please stand in for me for the first hour or two; like someone has also just gone out to do attend to some important engagement. But, that also applies to everyone association, including you reporters! So it is a challenge, and that is number one.
But, I must say that I have enjoyed incredible support and encouragement by all members of SOAN in my activities and in my work, as the President of the Association. In truth, I haven’t really had any challenge. The Gala we had was funded by members voluntarily. You saw the attendance, you saw the commitment, you saw the efforts? I must say that I am very blessed or lucky to have this group of people that I am privileged to work with. They have been very good!
If there are challenges, we look at them when they come up and we discuss them; and we work out the compromise to ensure that everybody’s interest is taken care of.
We recall you were in Malta few months back. Has that effort or gesture actually benefitted the country in any way?
So much has been achieved by SOAN, particularly for our nation and industry by reason of that outing and subsequent outings. I actually leave for London on the night of the election. I was invited by the Commonwealth, to participate in a session of the Commonwealth Trade Minister’s Conference, and that it was coming up on the 9th and 10th of March; and that was by reason of my being in the Advisory Board of the Commonwealth, courtesy of SOAN; that’s is an accomplishment!
The CEO of the Commonwealth has visited Nigeria a couple of times and the last time he came, we had a meeting with the Honourable Minister for Trade and Industry, Okechukwu Enelamah in his office and the discussion is going on now between the Trade Ministry and the Commonwealth Council on how they can support some of the trade initiatives, by bringing it to the commonwealth nations and build a bi-lateral relationship again, courtesy of SOAN; and I remembered the Honourable Minister asked me and said ‘have you people benefited from these people’s relationship?’ and of course, I said yes, because we have benefited, the country has benefited, the Maltese government now is trying to come and help the Maritime Academy of Nigeria; and also look at our Flag administration and the NIMASA as a Maritime administration in a collaborative form; all on courtesy of the initiatives of SOAN! I think SOAN deserves a round of applause.
You are set for a new election. Nigeria’s post -election experiences have shown a consistency of crisis. Have you put in place, any measures to foreclose post-election crisis?
In Nigeria, this is the norm. But, I can bet you 100 per cent that the SOAN election is going to be different.
First of all, it is a call to service and that call to serve, calls for sacrifice. SOAN is not a type of association where you have the opportunities to personal or selfish benefits. It is not that type of association. I told you earlier about the financial discipline and management, whereby, we even have external auditors for a young organization, to look at our purse and scrutinize how every penny that comes in was spent; and that was sent to all members; for they are free to ask questions. So, there is a high level of accountability; and so, there is no room for issues!
**Engr. Greg Ogbeifun is serving as an active member, ministerial committee for the restructuring of Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron. He is also on Governor Obaseki’s committee for the restoration of Gelegele Port, Edo State; as well as a distinguished Special Adviser to NIMASA’s Director General, Dr. Dakuku Peterside for good administration of the agency.