For some decades, foreign shipping lines have been lifting Nigeria’s oil with the International Oil Companies (IOCs) and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) without opposition, as they enjoy support from government agencies.
The practice has positioned Nigerian shipping business in the hands of foreigners, while the indigenous shipping lines are sidelined in the bidding processes of getting contracts to lift oil.
Nigerian ship owners had approached Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), NNPC and IOCs to help salvage the situation in the past with no positive result.
In fact, there was zero participation by indigenous shipowners in transportation of crude oil, until recently when the Nigerian Local Content Development Board (NLCDB) turned the table in their favour as part of efforts to promote coastal shipping in the industry.
The board changed the unfavourable policy by ensuring that the list of the bidders approved was 99 per cent of the local shipping companies.
Commenting on the new development, the second Vice President of the Ship Owners Association of Nigerian (SOAN), Alfred Okoigun, said in Lagos that the new vision would create significant employment opportunities for the nation’s youths.
He said that all Nigerian ship owners had decided to pursue a seamless collaboration with relevant stakeholders and key players, particularly those in government.
According to him, with the current pace and the level of dedication on the parts of government and industry operators, the youth would be gainfully employed in the industry.
He said that this was the reason the industry operators and key players would converge on Lagos to brainstorm on how to further move the industry forward in the overall interest of the Nigerian people.
The ship owner noted that it was Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) that endorsed foreigners dominating the industry.
Okoigun explained: “The Comptroller General of Immigration will equally be in attendance. This again underscores the importance of bringing everyone together, because at the end of the day, if we say the foreigners are dominating our industry, we must also understand that it is the immigration that issues them the endorsement. So, they should know what we are doing.”
According to him, ship owners are beginning to enjoy the support of the industry players such as the NLCDB, National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), among others.
He noted that the task of ensuring a positive economic turnaround was a joint mandate by all shipowners, irrespective of affiliations to collectively explore how the future of the youths could be brightened.
To this end, he explained that top class leaders would be invited to rob minds on how to improve the industry.
He added that the Nigerian Ports Authority Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman; the NCDMB Executive Secretary, Simbi Kesiye Wabote; Group General Manager, National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS, Mr. Roland Ewubare and Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral, Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, would be special guests. Also expected, are former MD, NPA, Chief Adebayo Babatunde Sarumi; Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside and Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and Petroleum Counterpart, Ibe Kachukwu,
He said: “If you go to Holland, Sweden, Norway or even Dubai of recent, without much of water; you can see what they are doing with their waters. But here, we are just scratching the surface.”
Also, the SOAN President, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, said that there had been a more positive disposition from NIMASA.
According to him, there has been huge paradigm shift from the way government agencies had been tackling issues relating to the maritime sector.
The president explained that the government had started to reason with the ship owners, noting that out of the several issues raised last year, 70 per cent of them had already been addressed.
Ogbeifun added that there had been quite some tremendous growth in the establishment.
He said: “I can confidently tell you that the Hon. Minister of Transport has now decided to see to the possible conclusion of the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financial Fund (CVFF) to the extent that he has now taken the issue to the presidential level for assent.”
However, Okoigun noted that financing still remained a big problem of the whole industry.
He explained that the people they were competing with were getting loan from their countries under 10 per cent per annum, while loans are sourced in Nigeria at a minimum of about 14 per cent.
He stressed the determination of ship owners and NIMASA to provide the necessary training opportunity to its youths in the ongoing collaboration with NIMASA to achieve the desired results.
Source: Hellenic Shipping News.