That a Nigerian Business woman recently bought a giant vessel is no longer news. What is news, and of a very serious concern now, is how the nation’s law, which Nigerian Maritime Industry Stakeholders recently unmasked as the greatest Culprits of the Country’s economic woes, would not kill off the noteworthy initiative!
Brainstorming last week at the 4th Taiwo Afolabi Annual Conference (4th TAANC) at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) on Friday, some gurus of the Industry, particularly the immediate past President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, Prince Olayiwola Shittu; the Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Haastrup and the Chairman, Ports Consultative Council (PCC), Otunba Kunle Folarin begged the Federal Government, to re-orientate the laws, to protect the Nigerian economic interest!
While they refrained from saying the country’s leaders ‘lacked the ball’ to adopt and promote the Trump’s kind of ‘Nigeria First’ philosophy, they however, noted that unemployment and youths’ restiveness would become a thing of the past soon, if the authority could settle down, focus more at harnessing the nation’s maritime endowments, to uplift the country out of its present quagmire.
A noteworthy brain and impeccable beauty, Princess Vicky Haastrup in an indirect approach, truly begged the Government, to do something quickly, using the laws to protect Nigeria, blocking the available loopholes which unpatriotic Nigerians had in the past used, to kill genuine initiatives, and bringing the country unto its present knees!
“I was very proud as a woman, that a Nigerian and a woman for that matter has the capacity and the courage to acquire a big vessel like that. I salute her courage because our policies and laws in Nigeria do not give such business enterprise, the desired comfort. I salute her courage because she got this vessel; she doesn’t even know and is not sure if her vessel will be engaged by the International Oil companies (IOCs) to use her vessel for services.
“We have a lot of foreigners who come to Nigeria and invest in vessels and the IOCs support them. In fact, they prefer the foreigners than our indigenous people.
“So government needs to pass an enabling law that will force these companies. At the end of the day it is in Nigeria they stay and they make their money; and what happens when they make all these money, it does not remain in Nigeria! They will not invest such money in Nigeria!
“Why can’t government force them to support our own people? This is a cause we have being fighting government for, that an enabling law needs to be passed in support of patronizing indigenous participation, particularly in people who have invested money in acquisition of vessels.
“Vessels don’t come cheap. I was asking a friend, how much it cost her to acquire the vessel; we are talking of tens of millions of dollars. She would not have being able to acquire the vessel without the support of the Nigeria banks. And if at the end of the day she does not have the encouragement by government or by International Oil Companies in Nigeria, by engaging her vessels to be used for services; how will she be able to repay the investment she has made in acquisition of the vessel?
“The right policies, right laws need to be passed by government. Our people, Nigerians, need to be encouraged into going into ventures like this! If we don’t have the enabling law that gives them comfort that they will be able to recoup whatever investment they have made, then I’m sorry!
“But I don’t know, if there will be more people.
“We have the organization of vessel owners in Nigeria, maybe we should ask them how many of them still have vessels today. A lot of them had vessels in the past but they were not patronized by the IOCs in Nigeria, they would rather patronize foreign companies that run such business in Nigeria.
“This is where they work, this is where they make their money. They should be forced to patronize indigenous company owners.
“Government needs to look at the Cabotage Law! How are we implementing the full intentions of the Cabotage law? Even the Local Content Law as it is, is also subjected to misinterpretations, misapplication and all of that!
“The Local Content law that was passed in 2010 is a loosed law that allows the foreigners get a lot of waiver and take what rightly belongs to Nigerians. I will give an example outside the Maritime sector, look at the Communication Sector, taking the DSTV for instance! We are a nation of over 200 million people; it is inconceivable that only one South African country, who are now killing Nigerian in their country, is the one providing that services to Nigeria. This is a slap on our face and a shame to this country.
“This same company, when any Nigerian wants to have an entrance into that service, they will make sure they kill that company. We have seen many of them who attempted it, at the end of the day who gives this company cover, Nigeria? We have the Minister for Communication; we have the Senators, who should see to it that the right policies are passed. All they need to do, I’m not a politician, But one politician demanded they should nationalize it.
“Nigerians are the enemies of Nigerians. The people meant to support and fight for Nigeria are actually not fighting for Nigeria. I’m saying this publicly!
“The same thing is happening even to the Cabotage Law, and to the Local Content Law! At the end of the day is it not Nigerians that are granting approvals to the IOCs for all these services, for the contracts?
“You have Production Sharing Contract, which I know. Who gives approval? Nigerians!
“When they see a foreigner come for a contract and a Nigerian apply for the same contract, they would rather go for the foreigner.
“The legislative arm of government needs to fight for its people. They need to look at those laws, the areas that allow them to get away, even in the application of the laws. We need to tighten it. Some of these areas need to be nationalized.
“There has to be a law that will force them, that only Nigerians or 80% of whatever it is, goes to Nigeria and its people!
To be continued!