Identification of roles and objectives in the pursuit of one’s ideals often helps to chart a lucid path in achieving such goals.
Moreso, pragmatic approach at getting the desired goals and objectives forms part of the factors that determines the position one finds him or herself.
The Marine Engineering and Naval Architecture (MENA) arm of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), last week took a cursory look of the maritime environment with a view to finding unveiling the problems of the maritime sector and providing possible measures out of the doldrums.
At the 3rd Annual Conference/Annual General Meeting with the theme: “The Development of Maritime Structures in the Nigerian Economy: Challenges and the way forward,” there was a serious brainstorming aimed at proffering solutions to the lingering debacle in the sector.
In the welcome address by the Chairman of MENA, Engr. (Navy Capt.) Dominic Onabajo (Rtd), he said it was a defining moment in the life of the division of the NSE as the gathering would make them realise that taking the back seat in the affairs of the Nigerian Maritime Industry would be a disservice to the industry especially at the contemporary period.
In his speech, he identified training and education as the bedrocks of a truly productive maritime nation stating that concerted efforts must be made by government, private sectors and professional bodies to ensure that the maritime industry in Nigeria is redirected to achieve its full potentials.
The onus of the Chairman’s speech is the identification of some grey areas in the industry that the government is expected to give attention to.
The areas include but not limited to ship building, robust policies that will bring about the desired change that will create an enabling environment for business and investment.
However, some of the speakers at the event whose wealth of experience helped to elucidate the problems of the industry and suggested possible solution include the President of the NSE, Engr. Ademola Olorunfemi who charged members to catch up with trend so that the society will not remain backward.
“Everything has changed and we must also change. NSE is focusing from the perspective of the professionalism and change.”
The NSE president was represented by the Engr. Babagana Mohammed who is the Vice president, Professional Development of the NSE, while speaking in his own capacity, he charged members to be dedicated in service to the society and stop playing to the gallery.
According to him, emphasis must be laid on structures before things begin to happen while lamenting that government agencies do not give them the necessary attention.
Earlier, the MENA chairman had reiterated that structure was not in place hence the need for the conference to find a lasting solution to the myriad of problems in the maritime sector.
In his speech, he said more than 90% of international trade is carried on ships and the $ain stay of Nigerian economy is oil and gas which is also carried by ships. In his submission, he wondered why well over 50,000 ships trading internationally none is built in Nigeria meanwhile ship building orders for the year 2014 alone runs into billions of dollars.
He enjoined all members to wake up and take the front seat in the practice For their long slumber has in one way or the other undermined the development in the industry and the position of the MENA.
Rear Admiral Ijeoma Douglas presented the first paper on how to stimulate discussions on how best to bring about vibrant and sustainable activities in the Nigerian maritime industry.
Among the challenges outlined at the event include lack of human resources and technical capacity; lack of technical services; poor infrastructure; funding; Nigerian ships are old; Nigerian universities not doing enough in marine engineering among other salient issues.
However, a communique was issued at the end of the conference which encapsulates all the discussions and the possible solution to the problems were suggested.
…Maritime industry stakeholders like Maritime Regulators, Ship Builders (Dockyards and Shipyards) Maritime Professionals, Institutions and Groups, Owners/Operators of Ships (including trawler), International Oil and Gas Companies (IOCs) and Classification Societies should combine to ensure proper provision of infrastructure.
…Emphasise the lack of human resources and technical services;
…Decry the building of Tank farms in close proximity to sea side, which should have been mapped out for shipyard development.
…NIMASA act 2007, Cabotage Act 2003 and Nigeria oil and gas industry content development Act 2010 should be amended to take care of development and maintenance of dock facilities/structures.
…Nigeria should endeavor to have an indigenous classification society of her own.
…There should be NNPC Oil and Gas department and the Ministry of Transport regarding lifting of Nigeria crude as it is being practised by ARAMCO and Iranian Tankers.
…Sound, maritime-friendly environment policies should be formulated;
…For maritime structure development, the following should be developed – Environmental, cluster, knowledge, R & D attractiveness.
…Taking the Canadian and Norwegian example as a lead, banks’ lending rates are made attractive for practitioners in the maritime structures to function.
…Establishment of a central knowledge hub that will coordinate all maritime infrastructure activities in Nigeria;
…Initiating involvement of BOI and commercial banks into vessel acquisition
If all these could be put together as stipulated by the MENA, the industry will witness a new lease of life where things are done according to international order of doing things in the maritime environment.
But the adoption of these measures by the Federal Government as agreed at the conference is the fear of all considering various measures and adoptions by different organizations and bodies are still in the oven waiting for eternity to come into manifestation.