Their Strengths, Weaknesses
- ASSECO: “Nobody can impose candidate on us”
- Ogbeifun endorsed by Society of Nigerian Mariners
It has been weeks of provocative politicking and sloganeering in the Nigeria Shipowners’ Association (NISA), where elections into elective offices are expected to take place on 24th October, 2014, twelve years after the formation of the association. Among the 14 elective positions, only the position of the presidency has attracted so much attention, especially against the background that the three candidates are all accomplished maritime and shipping operators. They all stand tall in global shipping as well, but one person must emerge the winner because “all animals are equal but some are more equal”, according to George Orwell. The candidates are: Capt. Dada Labinjo; Barr. Temi Omatseye and Engr. Greg Ogbeifun.
One thing remarkably good in this election is the professionalism, ennobling quietude and tolerance, among the contestants, even in the face of conscious and unconscious provocations from different quarters.
However, there are nuances of idiosyncrasies which define their peculiar personalities for which members of NISA will latch on to cast their votes.
What then are their strengths, weaknesses? Who is the most preferred and why?
Announcing, last week, how far they had gone in preparation of the election, Association’s Electoral Committee (ASSECO), chaired by Capt. Niyi Adeyemo, acknowledged that the candidates have conducted themselves gentlemanly, adding that there was no case of imposition of a candidate on the Association, saying, not even president Goodluck Jonathan can impose a person on him at his age.
Addressing the media in company of the ASSECO Secretary, Mr. Joe Ugo-Emeribe, Capt. Adeyemo explained that the election was shifted forward because “we wanted to take care of logistics and things that needed to be done, including meeting the media to sensitize the people; getting the list of those that will cast their votes; the various promises that were made by candidates. There are also issues of disqualification of candidates that have not gone through the rules of the electoral committee for one reason or the other. Majority of the candidates had a meeting with us the previous week, where we gave them guidelines on the election but there were candidates that were not in the country and we needed to carry them along”.
On why the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) was constitutionally made a Returning Officer for the election, Adeyemo said it was because they are the apex maritime regulatory agency in the country. “The electoral Committee will package the election but the actual conduct of the election will be done by NIMASA. We are working with NIMASA towards conducting the election, and actual declaration of results will be done by NIMASA”, he explained.
He added that any candidate not satisfied with the election results, could seek redress, as an appeal panel would be set up to entertain cases whether or not the candidate (winner) has been sworn-in.
On presentation of manifesto, he noted, is for all candidates, “because all candidates are equal but some are more equal than others. So, some may have 5 minutes while others may have ten minutes or more. Even, the sole candidates will have to tell us what they have for us”.
For the position of the presidency, three candidates are slogging it out; for the position of 1st vice president and 2nd vice president, they are sole candidates. Secretary-General, three candidates; publicity Secretary, three candidates; Welfare Officers, two candidates; while the position of Coordinators in Lagos, Warri, PortHarcourt and Calabar have sole candidates.
To determine the most qualified and preferred candidate for the president of NISA, Acceptability, Pedigree, Network, Credibility and Goodwill are factors with which to make conclusions.
Pedigree: Capt. Labinjo is a retired Navy Captain, Lawyer, Shipowner, Manager and immediate past General Secretary of NISA, a position he held for twelve years. He is being very active in maritime and policy advocacy, and believes in due process. He is one of the operators that have been embittered about the state of local shipowners and is determined and zealous to drive a sustainable change for the growth of the shipping sub-sector.
He started as a seafarer in 1975 and had had opportunities of being trained for the job, globally. He commanded my ships in Nigerian Navy, including war ships. Today, he is a capacity builder.
Acceptance: Capt. Labinjo has built bridges across professionalism and geo-political considerations.
He is seen by many maritime operators as a vocal personality without ethnic obsession.
However, he is not a friend of the establishment, who see him as a terror capable of engaging them to a stand-still, any day, anywhere and anytime. They could influence the voting pattern.
Another factor capable of swaying votes in his disfavour is the cold-war existing between tanker and offshore operators. There has been mistrust between both groups. And from the records, there are more offshore operators in NISA than tanker operators.
Network: Labinjo, with his background as a retired Naval Officer, with global exposure can spring some surprises.
Credibility: He is not known to have had any credibility crisis except for an issue with the Navy, for which he sought redress in court and defeated the Nigerian Navy, which is a credit to his person and causes.
Good Will: Labinjo is a tested hand in leadership, a factor that has endeared him to many people. This, will surely count for him at the poll. However, some people have asked why he wants to lead as the president having been a General Secretary for 12 years.
On his campaign programme, he has the followings: Formulation of strategy that will ensure NISA members get maximum benefits from the Cabotage and Nigerian Content Acts towards achieving the 60 percent indigenous ownership of marine vessels operating in the oil and gas industry; Development of Skills roadmap for Nigeria Seafarers, among others.
Pedigree: Barr. Omatseye, is another NISA Presidential aspirant. He is a former Director-General of NIMASA. Born 50 years ago in Warri, Delta State, he was educated in Nigeria and Britain. He inherited a shipping business from his father and later set up Polmaz Limited; an oil and gas servicing company and exporter of rubber. The company founded in 1993 with N50, 000, currently has a turnover of over N1billion.
He is very passionate about the maritime industry and has been involved in a series of struggle to better the industry. He has single-handedly fought foreigners and their cohorts for going against the provisions of the Cabotage Act.
Acceptance: Omatseye is very knowledgable in shipping operations especially as it relates to offshore. He is both an offshore and tanker operator. Since he is standing astride the two interests, he is capable of pulling some strings. He understands the likes and dislikes of both groups, he is also a likeable fellow. He is loved by the presidency but some people in NIMASA who are still scared of his reform initiatives, are still afraid their jobs could be taken. He believes in the best for the industry, and empowered many operators while on the driving seat as CEO of NIMASA, especially the media. His youthfulness also places him as the bridge across all the generations of shipowners. But the questions some people have asked is how he improved the lots of NISA as DG, NIMASA.
Network: Omatseye has global connectivity with shipowners and investors, who are in dire need of credible Nigerians to do business with. His presidency could change the fortunes of Nigerian shipowners overnight.
Credibility: His position as DG of NIMASA almost dainted his personality, but the turn of events in law court, in a case involving money remittances has turned out to be his strength, as it is obvious some lies were fabricated against him because of his strong resolve to bring about reforms in NIMASA.
Goodwill: Omatseye has a lot of goodwill from the maritime community. His winning edge, among other things is knowing the problems and applying the suiting balms to them in all strata of maritime, oil and gas operations. He fraternises with the media, members of NISA, decision and policy-makers, positively.
His area of focus, if given the presidency include; open relational opportunities for NISA and other shipowners associations; work with foreign shipyards to getting ships assets with NISA as the head and driver; secure government and guarantee for Nigerian Shipowners for fleets renewal and updates; secure additional tax incentives and investment guarantees for investors to help develop the maritime infrastructure; partner with Federal Ministry of Finance to remove duties on vessels; build the integrity of Nigerian Shipowners and get deserved respect from government, international shipowners and the security service.
Pedigree: Engr. Greg Ogbeifun seems the most experienced of them all, entrepreneurially, having spent 42 years in the maritime, oil and gas industry operations. He has carved a niche for himself as a foremost ship builder, Ship repairer, manager, shipowner, with a fleet of vessels, including a floating dock.
He is a qualified Marine Engineer, Marine Consultant, Ship Surveyor and the CEO of two flourishing companies: Starzs Investment Company Ltd, a marine logistics company and Starzs Marine and Engineering Limited, a ship repair company, utilizing a 500 ton lifting capacity floating dock in Onne, Rivers State. The ship yard has carried out over 600 dockings for various shipowners.
Ogbeifun has also been involved in the planning and execution of policies relating to the maritime industry.
He was at various times appointed into several presidential and ministerial committees for national assignments.
Acceptance: Ogbeifun is a people’s person. He takes other people’s problem as his, and extends hands of assistance and support. Every event of his is usually taken seriously by operators in maritime, oil and gas industry because he cares. Expectedly, not everybody likes his guts, which is one thing he shares with Omatseye and Labinjo. His social inclination is a positive bridge across all the ethnic cleavages. Very knowledgeable and entrepreneurially daring, he is the aspirant that has got written endorsement from a group, showing his level of acceptance. The letter of endorsement sent by the Society of Nigerian Mariners, reads thus; “The Society of Nigerian Mariners is keen on the principles of Local Content policy, the implementations of the Cabotage Law, our fair share on international carriage of goods, local ships repair and fittings, training and development of seafarers, security and safety of ships, good returns on investments and attractive friendly maritime environment.
“All these and many can be achieved steadily by an appropriate helmsman of NISA. It is in the light of this desire that we suggest to all eligible voters at the election to consider favourably the candidature of Engr. Greg U. Ogbeifun,” the letter added.
Ogbeifun has the ears of policy-makers in the government and is equally acceptable across generational divides.
Network: He is equally globally connected as a foremost maritime industrialist with a functional shipyard. While the government and other players are aspiring to own a shipyard, Ogbeifun has docked over 600 vessels in his. The government needs his rich knowledge in this as President, NISA.
Credibility: Ogbeifun is the only one among the contestants, who has never held a position as a head of parastatal or served in the executive of NISA, and so has nothing left to defend, except for his personal credibility in dealing with the people as an industrialist, which stands him out. So far, his records are very, very clean, and this he intends to leave behind after NISA job. He says, he deserves the votes of all.
Goodwill: As a member of many other professional bodies and in good relationships with both government establishments, such as the Nigerian Content Development Management Board (NCDMB); private sector establishments, locally and internationally, he will surely change the fortunes of NISA members and the face of maritime industry in Nigeria.
He is determined to drive drastic changes in the industry as a thorough professional with his penetrative and appealing programmes.
My administration will:
- Ensure the association is run in a professional, efficient and effective manner with accountability, transparency and integrity.
- Engage government and related agencies on behalf of Upstream and Downstream operators to dialogue on issues of members’ business welfare.
- Develop bilateral relations with key shipowners associations in other regions, and other international organizations.
- Work with financial institutions and government to actualize vessel financing for members.
- Defend, protect and work in line with the aims and objectives of the association.