WISTA-Nigeria Election: Who Becomes The Next President?

· Their chances, weaknesses, strengths


Because We Are All Involved

No election in Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Nigeria has generated so much interest as this coming election of February 20th 2020 in which a new executive is expected to emerge, with the 8th President on the saddle. The reason is simple. Right from the regime of the pioneer President, Barr. Funmi Folorunso (1994-1998), the passing of baton of leadership from one leader to another has always been a “paddy paddy” affair with seeming mock elections.

Although each of the successive presidents put in their best to drive the vision of WISTA, it still does not discount the reality that the elections or selections were not rooted in the strength of the candidates’ manifestoes or leadership ideas. And this lapse compromises leadership effectiveness and so its success measurement becomes very difficult or thrown overboard at the detriment of the female population in need of salvation through what should be a vibrant and purposeful leadership in WISTA Nigeria.

At MMS Plus, we know the gender-based needs and gaps begging to be filled in the maritime industry and the nations at large, hence our decision to help reposition WISTA Nigeria to align with the needs of the people through correcting the leadership selection process via competitive elections, especially when we heard of four candidates vying for the same presidency position. How best to do that was through online polls which expectedly escalated the desire and the election process.

Can’t WISTA Nigeria set the pace after 25 years of existence? Can’t WISTA Nigeria set a gender-based leadership standard for other associations and the emerging ones? Yes, they can!

Many members have called to ask what the interest of MMS Plus is. Our interest is simply WOMAN! We can see the future of the younger female generation from the present situation. How does it make WISTA Nigeria feel that for three consecutive years now the ratio of female participation in seafaring globally is 2 per cent? Meanwhile, Nigeria lacks statistics to even appreciate their local ratio! How does it make WISTA Nigeria feel that members are just too busy to mentor the younger women in the sector?  Let members line up their mentees and let’s see!  How does WISTA Nigeria feel that many members especially in public sector travel on government assistance under capacity building budget yet they only travel to embark on shopping spree? The foreign conferences are meant to equip members for leadership success, challenges and train others. This explains why this platform is seen as a leadership grooming platform.

Does it also bother WISTA Nigeria that the World Economic Forum painted a gloomy picture with its report last December that it will take 257 years for the world to achieve gender equality, from the perspective of women involvement in economic activities? Is WISTA Nigeria then challenged to know the male –female ratio of employment in the maritime industry? All these should constitute a huge worry and areas of preoccupation for WISTA Nigeria.

Lately, no doubt, WISTA Nigeria has done so much in humanitarian services that touched lives in different states of the country. But it has always lacked the gender-intelligence touch and indices needed to work with.

With all due respect to the present and past leaderships of this association, they have done wonderfully noble, but the new executive has to be guided to think creatively in these directions with digital innovation through a long term development plan. We believe therefore that only leadership got through competitive electoral process can guarantee the future of women in the industry and this is where our interest as MMS Plus, known for its robust gender appeal lies. This reinforces our claim described with Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu’s book titled:  “Because I am Involved”


Who Emerges The Next President?

Four presidential aspirants have emerged on the scene. They are, in no order of preference: Oritsematosan Edodo-Emore, Eunice Ezeoke, Victoria Tarfa and Obiageli Obi. Eunice Ezeoke emerged the winner in the online polls conducted on MMS Plus platform with 84 percent of the total votes cast, Edodo-Emore came second with 9 percent votes, Obiageli Obi came third with 4 percent as Victoria Tarfa settled for 2 percent. This however may not determine the direction of the actual election.  Who are these aspirants and how much influence can they wield in office if elected?

Mrs. Oritsematosan Edodo-Emore is an established maritime lawyer who doubles as the chief executive officer of Zoe Maritime Services Limited, which organizes annual and seasonal Breakfast Meetings in the industry. She has served on different past executives in various capacities and even represented WISTA Nigeria for a period at the WISTA international. There is every likelihood that she will step down for a candidate at the eleventh hour because MMS Plus heard that some WISTA Diamonds were working on her to back out of the race.


She is experienced and well-travelled to lead WISTA Nigeria. She has got the network and wealth to help WISTA grow. She has got the aggression  of a private sector operator and she will certainly maximize the opportunity for the growth of WISTA Nigeria,


She has a baggage that she has refused to drop since she was appointed a member of the international council of WISTA representing Nigeria. This presumed minor altercation with the past leadership of WISTA has casted a blight on her chances as it is being freely discussed among members. Some claimed that she is not assertive and could go solo with the association.

Mrs. Eunice Ngozi Ezeoke is the Vice President of WISTA Nigeria. She worked with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and just retired end of January 2020 on reaching the mandatory 35 years in service as Assistant General Manager(AGM) Tariff and Billing, Marine &Operations Directorate.

She was the Port Manager, Lagos Port Complex, Apapa from 2016 to 2017. She started WISTA in Port Harcourt and coordinated it till her transfer to Lagos.

In her interest declaration statement, Ezeoke submitted, “My fellow WISTA members, it has been a great privilege to have served as vice president of our esteemed association. It is therefore with great humility that I feel honored to offer my service as president of WISTA-Nigeria.

“I have been a maritime practitioner working with the Nigerian government for over 34 years and actively promoted as well as represented the interests of WISTA in all my portfolios both locally and internationally. Additionally, I have served WISTA in various capacities and was the pioneer coordinator for WISTA in Port Harcourt. I possess vast experience in maritime policy modeling and administration, capacity building, maritime innovation and stakeholders’ management. I am also a certified UNCTAD instructor and have participated in several IMO conferences of which include my service on the IMO committee on Carriage of Hazardous Cargoes. My experience and exposure has enabled me to build a network of stakeholders and technical capabilities to help boost the objectives of WISTA. It is my fervent desire to take women empowerment to the next level in the maritime and trading community.

“My prime objective is to sustain the good traction of achievements that WISTA-Nigeria has realized over the years and build on the existing foundation to project our impact locally and internationally. Our relationship with Regional WISTA branches and WISTA international will be strengthened to the benefit of all members and we will once again work as a team to achieve greatness”, she concluded.


Ezeoke’s strength lies in her network of old WISTA members and pedigree in the association as an active member. There is a swirl of sentiment in her favour as the automatic successor having been the vice president to the incumbent. But there is no such tradition in the constitution.  She left some pot of goodwill and human relations to harvest from as President if voted in.


Her votes as a candidate from NPA will be divided by another candidate from that constituency. Her declaration speech is tempted to be counted as the manifesto but that would have been punctured as not being measurable. However, does she have stage fright? The campaign on this is that she is not heterogeneous audience-friendly!  And therefore may not represent WISTA well in oral delivery. This is doubtful given her exposure in NPA and IMO.


Mrs. Victoria Tawhi-Michael Tarfa works in the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) but has worked for 20 years in the maritime industry. She is bilingual, an asset that made her settle well in the Port Association of West and Central Africa (PMAWCA) as Chief Project Officer (CPO) when seconded from NPA. She has Master’s Degree in International Relations as well as a Diploma in Port Management from GIMI Israel.

Her declaration: “I am running for the position of “President of WISTA Nigeria”. I am a Bilingual Communication Strategist with the NPA. I have been working in the Maritime Industry for 20years during which I was Project Manager of the Port Management Association of West and Central Africa (PMAWCA) for 5years.  I participated in the review of the African Maritime Charter in 2008 as PMAWCA Maritime Expert. I was Port Expert for AfDB in 2009 & 2010 on Statistic Handbook. I am a member of NPA committee on Nigeria-Niger Joint Commission for Trade Facilitation. I am currently a Senior Manager heading the Industry Associations and Port Promotion Unit in Corporate and Strategic Communications Division. So much has been done by the out-going Exco, great door has been opened at the IMO. We need competence, commitment, vibrancy, vision, innovation and determination to keep our boat sailing.”


Victoria Tarfa has a robust cluster of professional relationships with NPA, maritime industry in Nigeria as well as in West and Central Africa. This is a treasure of goodwill to tap from and change the narratives in WISTA Nigeria. She is considered by her promoters as the digital bridge between the older and younger generations of women in WISTA and maritime industry.

She is equally banking on the pool of younger women in WISTA to buy into her candidacy. She has diplomacy as management strategy going for her and is said to be close to power and authority that can make things happen.


She is said to be relatively new in the activities of WISTA Nigeria and so have not met the mandatory number of meetings that could qualify her to contest any position. They would rather have her contest other positions and gain experience as an ideal prerequisite for Presidency. The campaign is that she is the choice of the incumbent president who wants to use her to maintain hold on power. Really? This ideally should be strength in a black man’s democracy but it could count against Tarfa in WISTA considering the sentiments being peddled. She is seen as the underdog in the race but she might spring surprises. Don’t quite, however. Just embrace the tape.

Barr. Ms. Obiageli  Ogbenyanu Obi is currently the Director-General of Nigerian Chamber of Shipping (NCS). She is a lawyer with a strong character and a well-arched manager of businesses, who has had stints at top-level management in reputable organizations.

A Legal Practitioner with over 20 years of successful experience, Ms. Obi was a Senior State Counsel at the Office of the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1981-1984), Legal Adviser/Company Secretary to Sparkling Breweries (Ughelli), First Guarantee Pensions Ltd. (Lagos) and Group Management Consultant Chisco Transport Ltd. (Lagos).

Ms Obi cut her shipping teeth many years ago and has deep understanding of the operational issues in oil tanker market and ship-owning environment, measurable chartering and commercial experience and a substantial knowledge of global perspectives of shipping operations and management.

She received training at the Nigeria Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, the Nigerian Law School, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Queens School Enugu and the Corona Schools, Lagos. She has professional memberships with the Nigerian Bar Association, Federation of International Women Lawyers (FIDA), Association of African Women for Research and Development, Women in International Shipping and Trade Association (WISTA). She is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) and Certified Fellow of the International Professional Managers Association (FCIPM & FPMA) respectively. An astute manager, Obiageli set up and ran two private concerns, Zebulun Global Shipping and Eric & Gayle Consulting which she put on hold in order to serve in the capacity of Director General at the Chamber of Shipping. Imbued with the milk of human kindness, She has been passionately involved  some Charities and Social reform work viz; Team Lead and pioneer field worker at Freedom Foundation, an NGO set up in 2001 with a mandate to pioneer social reformation within our communities in the areas of rehabilitation, education and empowerment. Her leadership acumen has been tested variously as Vice President, Queens School Enugu Old Girls Association Enugu; Speaker, Governance500, a leadership training program which organized and  successfully carried out an advocacy and awareness walk tagged ‘Demand a Debate’ on March 10th 2011;  Member, Board of WINPOGOV (Women in Politics and Government), an NGO training and assisting young female politicians.

Following through a career objective which is to contribute towards the building of a large, strong, diversified, sustainable and competitive economy by translating strategic ideas into action and results, Ms. Obiageli Ogbenyanu Obi has brought these attributes to bear on the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping which she has led to be admitted as an Associate Member of the International Chamber of Shipping, the first African Shipping Group to attain such. She has reinvigorated the advocacy machinery of the Chamber to support the maritime industry at the National Assembly, to provide stakeholder leadership at the Abuja MoU, Seafarers / Cadetship Advocacy, Ship Finance, Capacity Building and Training for Operators, ancillary port users and bridging the nexus between players in the Shipping and the Oil & Gas Industries. She has recently brought down international maritime firms like Lloyds’ Maritime Academy, IFE and Warsarsh Academy to provide training to subscribers in the maritime industry. She is a recipient of the Outstanding Woman Personality Award by the MMS WoFHoF Initiative.

Obiageli hails from Ufuma in Orumba South LGA, a Christian with four grown up daughters who are doing great.


Coming from the private sector where knowledge and creativity drive associations using advocacy, Ms. Obi will make an effective president of WISTA Nigeria with purposeful leadership. She takes charge and control of her environment always to ensure success in administration. She is tested and trusted. She also has members, especially the Diamonds who believe in her and her abilities. She is simply a bulldozer in leadership.



Ms. Obi’s strength seems to be her weakness on the flipside. The weak-hearted cannot stand her leadership fire; hence they are not always comfortable. Many of the younger WISTA members could cast their votes bearing in mind that Obi is tough to manage. But she is just over-qualified for the presidency of WISTA Nigeria. However, she did not provide us here with her idea of the kind of leadership she intends to enthrone if elected.


The Scramble for the Position of Scribe

Meanwhile, three aspirants are slugging it out for the position of WISTA Nigeria Secretary. They are: Chizoba Anyika, Helen Majemite and Lilian Macjaja.

Mrs. Chizoba Anyika works with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) as Assistant Director, Cabotage.
She has served as WISTA Assistant Secretary under Mrs. Ify Akerele the then President. And was the WISTA Nigeria’s Public Relations Officer under Barr. Jean Chiazor Anishere, when she edited WISTA Nigeria Newsletter as the Editor. It was under her watch as the PRO that Anishere led the creative Exco to begin the glossy WISTA Magazine that changed the face of WISTA

According to Chizoba in declaration document, “I’ve gained wealth of experience having worked in Nigerdock Nig. PLC, before joining NIMASA. I am running for the post of WISTA Secretary to innovate a registry of our members, maintain records of our activities both inward and outward correspondence, record, publish, circulate, and maintain minutes of our meetings in addition to the duties enumerated in WISTA constitution and any other duties as may be assigned.

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