The Nigerian Maritime Expo (NIMAREX) was borne out of a desire to showcase Nigeria’s enormous maritime potentials to the world. Several years of participation in international trade fairs, conferences and exhibitions by government functionaries, agencies, ship owners, ship repairers, maritime lawyers, financial institutions and other stakeholders in different parts of the world gave rise to the idea of replicating events of similar magnitude in Nigeria. This year’s edition of the maritime exposition was billed to focus on economic regeneration and diversification, the organisers of the programme have said, with the theme: “Nigeria –Regenerating Economic Growth through the Maritime Sector” The venue is Eko Hotel, Victoria Island,Lagos. Date: June 6th, 2015.
This year’s edition of the expo has been shifted more than once and this had stakeholders wondering if the expo will hold this year. The issues being the political landscape and absence of a serving Minister, the division in the house of Shipowners into Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA) and the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), coupled with the fact that government financial support may not have come as expected. Although, the Ministerial approvals came early but not with the usual heavy purse, making it imperative for the organizers to begin to think how it could be private sector driven as obtainable abroad.
However, a lot of companies have shown interest in participating in this year’s expo, the Chairman, Planning Commttee , Mr. Ayo Adedoyin has said.
The President of Shippers’ Association, Lagos, Reverend Nicol Jonathan said that although NIMAREX is the project of the Nigerian Shipowners Association, it lacks the strength to make the expected impact and without government support it might be postponed. According to him “the NIMAREX is supposed to be an investment platform for the government and without return on investment they might not want to invest again, besides NIMAREX generates funds which should be channeled to obtaining vessels for training seafarers. Right now there is no sitting Minster of Transport, so in my opinion it will be best if the Expo is postponed till next year.”
The Managing Director of Sea Transport Services Nigeria Limited, and the President of NISA, Aminu Umar in a brief chat with MMS Plus Weekly stated that “the question of whether NIMAREX will hold or not will be rightly answered by the NIMAREX Planning Committee. After consultations with stakeholders, the Chairman of the Committee will let us know. We will review the situation and look at it from the point of view of participants that are supposed to add value to ship owners, we are supposed to showcase what we have so that we can use it as an avenue to network with our clients and potential clients, as well as the regulators that are participating in it. So we will review all this situation with the chairman and come back on that.
The issue of allegation of members of SOAN calling on ship owners to boycott this year’s expo, Umar said, “Am hearing it for the first time that they are canvassing for people not to participate. I think under the Nigerian constitution, NIMAREX has the freedom to accept any other association but as you all know, NISA is more than 12 years and SOAN is being set-up now so they are two different bodies and I think it’s not only members of NISA that should participate in NIMAREX, any ship owner that does business in shipping or maritime industry can participate, so I don’t think it will affect NIMAREX in anyway and even if NIMAREX does not get direct sponsorship from government NIMAREX can generate funds, if you want to hire a boat, there is a certain fee that is charged, however, we in NIMAREX used to get donations from government agencies like NIMASA and the rest of them and I believe that this year too there are some donations that were given and also NISA members, we also come together and donate to support the NIMAREX and we believe this year we are going to do that too because this is showcasing what we have, our assets, so we are going to support NIMAREX with funding as usual.
“Actually if you look at the members or owners of ships that are operating in the upstream, International Oil Company (IOCs), are the clients. So we expect the IOCs to participate to meet the ship owners that are doing business with them, we are inviting them and I think the Chairman, Planning Committee, is inviting most of them also, same thing goes to the tanker owners who are in downstream, we are inviting oil traders, depot owners, so that they can come and see what we have”. He explained.
“To be honest I will discuss with the Chairman of NIMAREX to know what is their state of preparation but there is little bit of uncertainties because of the new government coming in to take over and the Federal Executive Council is not setup yet, so many international participants who were supposed to come were a bit not ready yet to come because of the election, the new government and the post- election environment, however, if depending on what the Chairman Planning Committee decides with his committee, if the percentage of participation is not encouraging , then it’s likely to be shifted to a date more suitable because the main purpose of showcasing what we have for NIMAREX is to also network, so that different parties can network; we the ship owners, the people who provide services to ship owners, the client and our own clients, the financial institutions like the banks, the regulatory bodies like NIMASA, NPA, and Shippers’ Council and international companies, who provide services to ship owners.
From the foregoing the Planning Committee of NIMAREX has to make a good assessment of the prevailing state of affairs to determine the best way to direct the expo to achieve desired results.
Although NIMAREX might not have as much money as it used to, it has the enthusiasm of participants towards the expo and this shows that this year will bring a desired outcome. Already, many of the expo booths have been booked and hotel rooms booked by intending foreign participants, MMS Plus Weekly gathered. So, the 2015 expo is expected to be one of the best since founded, the challenges nothwithstanding.
Already, the former Head of State, Gen Abdulsalam Abubakar who is billed to chair, NIMAREX 2015 has sent his commitment to be at the occasion.