…As Amaechi again says Government seriously thinking of Cabotage fund utilization***
The President, Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Dr. Mkgeorge Onyung on Wednesday highlighted that the shipping industry remains the most vibrant solution to the nation’s economic challenges, pledging to effectively communicate this, to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The SOAN Boss stated this at the Oriental Hotels, Victoria Island, Lagos, during the Lagos International Shipping Expo (LISE), pointing out that there cannot be shopping anywhere, without efficient shipping services, as effective conveyance of goods.
Even though our President the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces General Muhammadu Buhari who happens to be my boss sometimes ago; “I want to send a clear message to Mr. President, that the Ship Owners of this country own the key to unlock the economic prosperity of Nigeria, because we know that Shipping is 90 percent of the Global trade; and as I coined it before, about two months ago, that if there is no shipping, then, there is no shopping. So, for those of you who have shopped before, we must understand that you are all involved in Shipping.
“So, there is a connection between Shipping and National Development and of course, controlling 90 percent of the global economy is not ‘moin-moin’ “, he posited, echoing a recent declaration of the United Nations which prescribed esteemed regards to the seafarers, because of their great accomplishments, amidst unquantifiable risks.
“Moreover, we also say that our Seafarers are the most important to us all on earth as declared by the United Nations and we as Ship Owners, we value their future, because their future is a Catalyst to our development. We cannot have ships and then hand them over to people who are incompetent, that is why we treat them as members of our family.
“That is why if anything happens to our crew, or if there is any problem that has to do with security and all that, we take it as if a member of our family has a problem.
The SOAN President described the LISE 2019 as the platform for shaping the industry’s policies and ultimately a place where shipping industry and related sectors will make the right business connections.
“Today marks a historic moment of the first edition of a conference, organized by the operators of the shipping industry in Nigeria
“This conference which will feature two days of exhibitions, six plenary sessions and a Gala night, is packed with great learning and networking opportunities. Our array of distinguished speakers will address the conference theme and the following sub topics.
“I have no doubt that attendees will gain important business insights, be able to contribute to policies and will find numerous opportunities to make the right business connections”, Dr. Onyung stated further, highlighting his desire to ensure that all shipowners actually speak with one powerful voice.
“Barely six month in the saddle of being the president of the association, I thought of a sustainable project that will ensure the development of our capacity and improve maritime business in the country is through this expo.
“This is to enable us to speak with one voice so that it will be loud enough for all stakeholders to hear and understand the challenges of shipowners and what they need,” Onyung further explained.
In his contribution on the occasion, the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, acknowledged that boosting indigenous ship ownership would enable Nigeria to compete more favourably on the international scene.
Amaechi made the assertion at the maiden edition of the Lagos International Shipping Expo organised by the Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) in Lagos, while speaking on the Expo theme: “Shipping, Global Economy and National Development”.
Amaechi was represented by Mrs Grace Atiegoba, Director, Reform, Coordination, and Service Improvement in the ministry.
According to him, the Federal Government is aware of the challenges in the maritime industry and is therefore, assiduously working to ameliorate them, even though constrained by limited financial resources.
Speaking on the topic, “Achieving the Objective of the Five-Year Marine Notice: Roadmap to Equip Nigeria”, Amaechi described shipping as a catalyst.
“Shipping is a catalyst that will boost socio-economic development in the country.
“Ninety per cent of developed nations are maritime-driven; so, there is need for the country to key into such to boost its economy.
“Government is also eager about marine notice as it will provide important issues on safety, general guidance to shipping and marine communities”, the Minister said, adding that government was concerned about the non-disbursement of the cabotage financing funds, poor infrastructure and poor maritime institutions in the country.
He noted that all these concerns were adversely affecting the industry, adding that there were solutions being put in place by the government to checkmate the challenges.
He listed the ways out to include review of the Cabotage Act, having competent personnel and promoting Public/Private Participation.
According to him, the others include giving inland waterways deserved attention and improving participation of indigenous shipping companies.
Ms Gbemisola Saraki, Minister of State for Transportation, said that maritime was a backbone for global trade and economy.
Saraki, who was represented by Hajia Bola Muse, President, Women in Maritime, said that the maritime industry would provide a hub of opportunity for trade to take place.
According to her, the jobs and livelihood of billions of people in the developing world and standard of living in the industrialised and developed world depended on shipping.
“The shipping industry is critical for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and for meeting its challenges,” she said.
Mr Legor Idagbo, Chairman, Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring Committee, said that there would be zero tolerance for violation of the NOGIC Act, an Act for local content.
According to him, the Act is being strengthened to incorporate other sectors of the economy, and thereafter ensure appropriate sanctions are applied.
“We have barely scratched the surface of the potential of this huge industry. A lot more needs to be done to incentivize local investments in the sector,” Idagbo said.
Boosting indigenous ship ownership will enable Nigeria compete favourably.