By Yusuf Odejobi
Engr. Greg Ogbeifun is the Chairman, Starzs Investment Company Limited. He is also the former President of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN). Ogbeifun was a guest at the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Nigeria annual Business Luncheon and magazine launch. On the sidelines at the event, Ogbeifun spoke with MMS Plus briefly, discussing some pertinent issues in the nation’s maritime sector.
Today’s event has been a massive one to celebrate women, how would you rate the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and opportunities for women?
It is very commendable that these women have been very focused on their objectives for WISTA. African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is a contemporary issue that is currently being developed. It is nice that they have begun to look into it at this early stage to see how they could sensitize people and position women for this regional trade.
From the turnout at today’s event, you can see that people believe that the issue is something worth deliberating. Today is workday, but stakeholders trooped out in numbers, even the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani stayed from the opening ceremony to the end of the event. This has truly been a successful outing and I’m particularly grateful and privileged to be part of it.
NIMASA is moving to end the charge on war risk insurance, what’s your opinion about that sir?
It is a very good move that would help those of us in shipping. There is no reason the insurance premium for Nigeria should be on such a high-risk scale because it is simply an issue of perception.
Today, with the emergence of the Deep Blue Project, it is clear to the world that Nigeria is serious and the nation has taken the lead in the bid to curb the menace of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
Since the country started talking about the Deep Blue Project, particularly after the commissioning by President Muhammadu Buhari, we hardly hear anything about piracy. Now, that piracy is becoming a thing of the past, it is only proper to expect that the insurance risk is brought down to the normal one. This way, shipping into Nigeria will be competitive.
What’s the latest on your ship repair yard?
The expansion project is on and we are working assiduously with the international transaction advisers that we appointed to work with us on the project. We are also working on the Outline Business Case (OBC) and we have an indicative funding offer from some international financial institutions. So, the project is coming up very well.
What would you propose to make attainment of national fleet a reality?
When the Nigerian government is ready to make the national fleet happen, it will happen. The fundamental thing to make that a reality is for the Nigerian government to review the tax laws in the country. As soon as the tax laws are reviewed, more people will be able to invest and compete favorably on the global scene.