The race for the chairmanship of the Nigerian Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA) is getting hotter by the day as the incumbent Executive Secretary, Capt. Dada Labinjo may have been ruled out of the race as a result of a zoning arrangement that favours the South-South candidates.
Following this, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Starzs Marine and Engineering Ltd., and Barr. Temi Omatseye, former Director – General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), both of whom have indicated interest in the position of the chairman are left to slug it out.
Also, the position of the 1st vice-chairman is zoned to the South-West and operators in offshore operation, while the 2nd vice – chairman, is for the trawling group in the association.
The position of the Executive Secretary has been zoned to the North, while other positions to be contested for are: Assistant Executive Secretary; Financial Secretary; Treasurer; Welfare Officer; Public Relations Officer (PRO), Auditor and Legal Adviser as well as Zonal Coordinators in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Warri and Calabar. However, these other positions were not said to have been zoned.
Although there is no official statement from NISA over the zoning arrangement, MMS Plus Weekly gathered that a good number of the 160 members of the association have agreed in principle that the leadership of NISA be zoned to another geopolitical section of the country, especially against the background that Chief Isaac Jolapamo, the incumbent chairman hails from South-West as Capt. Labinjo, his Executive Secretary.
According to our source, “the thinking is that we need leadership with a different approach to solving problems of the indigenous shipowners. They have piloted the affairs of the association for over six years now. But I think we need a new direction to tackle the realities on ground.”
Capt. Labinjo had declared his intention to run for the chairmanship of NISA in a press release to the media. He said he had made his intention known to members of NISA, explaining that he aspires for the position so that he could develop the maritime potentials which is dependent on ship ownership.
According to him, “not long ago, I did an objective evaluation of our association and that of the maritime industry generally viz-a-viz the Nigerian economy, it is so sad that Nigeria is 26th economy in Africa; but maritime, with all its potentials, is estimated to have contributed a mere 1.6 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the nation, according to the recent release by the National Bureau on Statistics (NBS). You will agree with me that the potentials of our industry remains highly untapped.”
However, reacting to the touted zoning arrangement, Labinjo noted: “NISA is a professional association and so its leadership position is not zoned to any part of the country.”
Another source told MMS Plus Weekly that NISA constitution allows for a two years term of office with a maximum number of 4 years in office, but the Jolapamo-led executive has “sat-tight” on the seat for over six years, adding that one of the things that got the members miffed was the inability of NISA leadership to utilize the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) opportunity for indigenous shipowners’ vessels to get listed on the corporation’s fleet for oil affreightment.
The source further explained that NNPC gave NISA three slots but the shipowners fell out with the corporation when they could not manage the opportunity.
It is generally believed however that the fortunes of the indigenous shipowners have nose-dived in the last six years such that many of them are hugely indebted to banks and so insolvent.
NISA could not help out either by pressuring government to give them lifeline. The only one promised, the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) is undergoing operational miscarriage.
But over the years, NISA reinvented itself through the introduction of the annual Nigeria Maritime Expo (NIMAREX), said to be the biggest event in West Africa.
Meanwhile, the election date remains October 9, 2014 even as MMS Plus Weekly gathered that members could present their manifestoes between September 15 and October 7, 2014.
NISA has three categories of membership which are: Shipowners; Associates, which are core shipping people, classification and manning companies; Affiliates, which are ancillary service providers such as insurance, banker, among others.
It was also gathered that all the positions would be contested individually.