The preparedness of the Nigerian Contents Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) to invest $3.5billion in the acquisition of vessels for indigenous shipowners was on Friday confirmed by an informed stakeholder.
The newly elected President, Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Dr. Mkgeorge Onyung confirmed this, during the inauguration ceremony of the newly elected executives of the association in Lagos.
According to him, “Last week, we went to NCDMB, they had a conference and I had an opportunity to speak there and just two day ago, I was also opportune to speak at the NIMASA mini conference that was held at Eko Hotel.
“I have not had an opportunity to interact with NAPPIMS yet but I will still do that and I want to say that I am a lucky brand new President in the sense that I have been elected at a time when our industry is hurting but all the people that need to help us have woken up and have risen to the occasion and they stand very ready to help us in this business.
“At the just concluded NOGOF training NCDMB showed us N15 billion dollars industry spread that is coming on in the next five years.
“In maritime alone, they showed us $3.5 billion dollars that will come in marine spread. That is also not small money and this is not money that is coming from the budget.
“This is money that must be spent and this money must be domiciled with Nigerians and they are ready to show us the way to this money.
“So, you have elected me at a time when I have to take this opportunity and I want to say to SOAN members that what I intend to do is to ensure that all SOAN members enjoy this money. So, SOAN members get ready, it is time for us to get this money”, the SOAN President stated further. .
Onyung also called for synergy among members in ensuring that problems facing ship owners are resolved through team efforts.
“I am going to ensure that we form teams in SOAN so that we can together create a focus based group specific on issues, it could be cabotage, it could be CVFF, it could be any kind of problem or differentials in the Dollar and Naira rates, we sit down and get a good depth of what we want to do, understand the problem very well and engage the various stakeholders collectively, continuously with robust and focused engagement to ensure that we negotiate with them, we dialogue with them in a very non-confrontational manner, to be able to get the benefit for our members.
“In SOAN, we are going to ensure a cross-sectorial and inter-association dialogue where we will be able to talk to because you have Master Mariners, you have engineers, you have stevedoring, you have manning companies, all of us are affected when we get into the waters.
“So, we will be able to extend and create for a where we will be able take our problems exactly to where it belongs.
“We will be able to engage with the Navy now that we have gotten inaugurated, from next week, my executive should get ready, we are going to go on visit to anybody that is anybody to make sure that we can begin to interact with them because this is our industry, this is our business.
“We have a lot of bad loans that are hanging on our necks, we cannot die with these loans, we have the opportunity to pay off all these loans, we have the opportunity to look at other innovative, sustainable methods that we can fund our ships and as a matter of fact, I now go back to the issue of shipping.
“Shipping stands on three pedestals, the first one is the ship, the second one, of course is the crew, the third one is the contract that will make money and give us the cash flow but I think the most important is the crew.
“But I want to say that in SOAN and of course, where I am coming from, we take crew very seriously. The fact is that if you do not have good crew, you have no ship and if you do not have ship, you have no NIMASA.
“So, as it is, we take our crew very specially because if you buy a new ship, if you buy a new car, you don’t give it to a drunken driver or to somebody who is on hard drugs.
“So, as a matter of fact, the crew, when we train them, need to retrain them and I say to the crew that we see them as members of our family and I want them to understand that if a crew man is to be hired, to work in any of our ships, he must be a nice man and a nice man is the type, as I said before as someone who you can bring home to have dinner with your family.
“So, on that note, I want to tell you that I am very happy to take over from my brother working with Greg has been a very wonderful experience.
“As a matter of fact, he is a wonderful man, he has his own style of leadership and of course, he has assured me that he will not leave me behind. So, I am going to cash in on that and make sure that I take him on that and make sure that we take our association to the moon.
“The media, you have been wonderful. In the four years of SOAN, you have done very well. I am going to assure you that we are going to work together”. He said.
Meanwhile, the second vice president, Sony Eja, has assured that the current Council will take special measures to ensure that both SOAN membership and the nation at large will enjoy desired dividends.