The first assignment expected of the newly inaugurated executives of the Nigeria Ship owners Association (NISA) should be how to nip the numerous problems confronting the members in the bud and to how to create an enabling environment for the takeover of the jobs lost to foreign ship owners as well as positioning the association for history.
The above include meeting up with the standard requirement of the government by acquiring ships that can make them competitors with the foreign ship owners and the resolve to work with government agencies to make the cabotage work.
However, the workability of the association is a big question that must be answered stemming from members who were aggrieved by the outcome of the recent election that produced the new set of executives.
Prior to the election, grapevine was rife that if a certain group of contestants should win the election, it would lead to disparagement in the association. Rumour as it is, has two sides like a coin; it could either be true or false. But the emerging scenario after the election especially during the inauguration was a pointer to the fact that there was a vestige of truth in the report.
According to the report, some of the aggrieved members had come allegedly to rectify what the association has failed to do in its thirteen years life time. And since the election which was adjudged to be fair by stakeholders could not produce the expected people, they felt there was no likely to be any change hence, the need to dissociate themselves from the fray of executives.
It was visible that some of those that lost in the election including those that won some significant positions were conspicuously absent at the inauguration which some feel portend a grave danger to the continued existence of the association.
This is so because some of those adjudged to be aggrieved are allegedly those that occupy the upper rungs of the association ladder in terms of status and business operations.
However, in every election, it is not out of place for people to fall out with one another after an election but the ability of the executives to bring the aggrieved together to terms will define whether the group will remain afloat or its demise.
The association which started with three members has since risen to about one hundred and sixty over its thirteen years of existence as claimed by the erstwhile and founding president, Chief Isaac Jolapamo.
It is however not too late if the executive can worm themselves into the hearts of the members who are alleged to have fallen out with the presently constituted executive.
In the spirit of sportsmanship, the president during his inaugural speech had specifically called on the other two presidential contestants; Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, the Chairman of Starz Group and Temisanre Raymond Omatseye, the Executive Chairman of Polymaz Shipping Ltd to join him in the quest to run the affairs of the association.
The synergy is necessary because the task of building a veritable national maritime industry requires collective will and effort which is the only factor that can usher success into the sector. Recently, a ship owner described their members as the set of people drowning in the face of swimmers who is capable of salvaging them. This accounts for the fear of stakeholders who have been routing for the resuscitation of the ship owners through a vibrant executive of the association.
In his words, “At this juncture, I will like to make a passionate appeal to Nigerian Ship owners and ancillary maritime service providers not to sit on the fence any more but to join the association forthwith so that together standing shoulder-to-shoulder, we can make the maritime sector a veritable replacement to oil and gas in the contribution to the Nigerian economy.
Continuing, “Still on this, will like to appeal to those our members particularly my good friend and brother who I have a great admiration for, a smooth and suave operator, Gregory U. Ogbeifun, the Chairman of Starz Group to please join me in the new effort to rid our waters of usurpers.
“The same appeal goes to Temisanre Raymond Omatseye, the vibrant and ebullient Executive Chairman of Polymaz Shipping Lt d whose participation in the NISA election added glamour and colour to the exercise. We shall require your respective experiences and reach in the task of bringing our jobs back,” he stated.
Capt. Labinjo said his administration was ready to take over the jobs from the foreigners who have hitherto been the major carriers of the goods meant for the Nigerian Ship owners. He resolved to be embedded with the various government agencies in the maritime sector for smooth operations as well as to facilitate taking over the jobs from foreigners so that an end can come to the sufferings of the indigenous ship owners.
Earlier, the past president, Chief Isaac Jolapamo had sad that the battle ahead was not easy adding that he was convinced that putting the Nigerian flag on many ships was a task that must be achieved.
He therefore said that the incoming administration of the association was rich with professionals and cut across various sectors essential to a virile maritime industry. He therefore called on the executives to use their dexterity and strike the forces of domination with precision.
Chief Jolapamo also stated that the battle of securing the Nigerian maritime domain by the ship owners was not impossible with the help of the Minister of Transport, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Maritime, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), as well as other numerous allies.
Also speaking at the event is the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Barr. Hassan Bello, he lauded the efforts of the founding chairman of the association, Chief Isaac Jolapamo in pioneering the association and bringing it to a stage where the association had to witness smooth transition to a democratically elected executives.
He therefore urged the incoming executives to pursue the full implementation of the cabotage law as well as the establishment of the National carrier for the Nigerian shipping sector so as to enable the country to regain its pride of place in the Maritime world.
As it is now, there is a lot on the table for the NISA members to accomplish and it requires synergy, togetherness to achieve the enormous feat placed before them; how well the association succeeds in this new dispensation depends largely on the ability to unionise and solve problems together.
The ship owners have suffered enough degradation to allow fisticuffs to drag them in the ocean of nothingness in the next two years that the dispensation will last.