IOCs, Local Shipowners Berth SOAN
- Gets Commonwealth’s Endorsement
The expected assumption of office on May 29, 2015 by the All Progressive Congress (APC) led government in Nigeria has triggered a series of political and economic realignments in the maritime and energy sectors of the economy.
Meanwhile, some International Oil Companies (IOCs) have joined forces with some indigenous shipowners to form anew body called, Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) with the mission to improve the maritime and shipping industry as well as the country at large.
This week, witnessed an unprecedented efforts at galvanizing forces to improve the maritime sector in Nigeria with the two different groups seeking the attention of the APC led in-coming government.
It was gathered that the reason behind the mobilization was the neglect the industry has suffered in the hands of successive governments in recent time.
However, observers were quick to note that even the appointment of a Special Adviser on Maritime Affairs, Mr. Leke Oyewole by the out-going government of President Goodluck Jonathan did not change the government perception of the industry, and cautioned that operators should be mindful of conveners or opportunitists seeking to use others as spring board, for government patronage.
On one hand was the Maritime Core Group convened by Olisa Agbakoba, SAN and on the other hand was the Ports Consultative Council (PCC) Steering Committee apparently convened by the Chairman of PCC, Otunba Kunle Folarin.
The Maritime Core Group which expectedly discussed legal framework as the basis for functional maritime administration had representatives of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administrative and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), SOAN, Freight Forwarders and some private individuals in attendance.
However, it was noted that some of the data used as a premise for discussion were faulted as wrong and misleading according to one of the attendees.
For instance, according to our source, they were said to have claimed that two million vehicles come into Nigeria through the land borders everyday, making it imperative for the establishment of a maritime data bank.
As an agenda-setting group for the in-coming government, they discussed, “dwindling oil revenue: Review and Strengthening the National Shipping Policy for economic growth; Shipping and Maritime revenues loss: A comparative review of West African Sub-region; Designing a legislative agenda for the maritime sector: imperative for legal framework reforms.”
However, PCC explored its strength as the apex maritime advocacy group in the industry with representatives from different agencies and institutions.
From the eyes of the freight forwarders in the steering committee, as presented in a position paper delivered by Chief Eugene Nweke, they want the new government to empower the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) to attain its obligatory roles in government circle.
While calling on the new government to appoint freight forwarders into relevant government agencies as board members as obtained in CRFFN Act, they implored the new administration to support “our quest for the establishment of a maritime bank”.
Meanwhile, SOAN was officially unveiled in Lagos, this week, with the President, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun saying that its membership is made up of companies with proven track records of activities in the industry recognized by upstream and downstream sectors of the shipping industry as well as by the private and public sectors of the industry.
According to him at an inaugural media briefing of SOAN, “membership of the association is open to both Nigerian and non-Nigerian Shipowners of the country, whilst the association will also consider applications from other organizations or establishments critical to the shipping industry on a case by case basis.
“Members of the association are committed to maintain the highest standards of safety and other regulatory compliance standards as well as best industry practices”, the president added.
SOAN, already has got the endorsement and recognition of the Commonwealth Heads of Government and Ministers, and is committed to promote the interest of Nigerian owned vessels as well as provide a forum for dialogues among Nigerian Shipowners.
Speaking on the new ideas SOAN is bringing into the industry, Engr. Ogbeifeun stated that the IOCs had been seeking a platform to have interaction with the service providers and resolve the challenges in their operations, and so SOAN has filled the gap. Among the IOCs that are members of SOAN is Total Deep Waters.
The interim Executive members of SOAN are: Ogbeifun, President; Dr. Mk George Onyung, Vice-President; Mrs. Jean Chiazor Anishere, Secretary/Legal Adviser; Mr. Chibuike Ugwuibe, Public Relations Officer (PRO); Mr. Eno Williams, Financial Secretary/Treasurer; Barr.Temi Omatseye, Coordinator, Government Relations; Mr. Emeka Ndu, Coordinator,Upstream operators; Mr. Mina Oforiokuma, Coordinator, Downstream operators.
Members of the SOAN Board of Trustees include, Chairman, Rt. Hon. Chibudom Nwuche, Mr. Babatunde Tijani Folawiyo, Mrs. Margaret Orakwusi, Mrs. Mfon Usoro, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, and Capt. Adamu Biu.