Shipowner’s Election 2014: Ethnicism Smears Professionalism

Ethnicism Smears Professionalism
Engr. Greg Ogbeifun

* Political HorseTrading Reigns

* Ogbeifun: “Why I Want To Be President

* Ilori: “Make Me A Spokesman

Typical of the Nigerian politics, ethnicism has crept into the elections of the Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA), such that members are now divided along ethnic lines, as suspicion and mistrust have become the order of the day, spurring accusations and political re-alignment as well as horse-trading.

Campaigns for the elective positions have reached fever-pitch with each candidate devising strategies for victory. Among all the positions being contested for, the presidency is generating more heat.

Last week, Mr. Paul Jegede, Managing Director/CEO Japaul Oil & Maritime Services Plc who had earlier indicated interest in the presidency withdrew from the race and promised to support one of the presidential candidates. But he had been programmed to emerge as the 1st vice-president by a leading caucus in the association.

However, his withdrawal has been interpreted in some quarters as a political strategy aimed at not dividing the votes of his kins man, Capt Dada Niyi Labinjo (South West), who is contesting the presidency alongside, Barr. Temi Omatseye and Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, who are both from the South-south. But there is still doubt if the 160 members of NISA, will choose to sacrifice professionalism and the future of the association on the altars of ethnicism, an observer noted.

In reinforcing the seeming prevailing ethnic cleavages in NISA over the forth-coming elections, it has been alleged that the Federal Government through the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is bank-rolling a candidate from the South-South.

The report stated that NIMASA would like to influence who emerges the president of NISA to avoid the emergence of a candidate that would later become a thorn on the agency’s flesh.

NIMASA, however, has denied its alleged meddlesomeness in NISA. According to its Director-General, Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, “why should we be interested in sponsoring any candidate? What do we intend to achieve? We are not going to meddle into this election. It is not in the best interest of the agency; and it is not in the best interest of NISA”.

Observers have failed to believe this, especially when it was decided at the last NISA general meeting that NIMASA would function as the Returning Officer at the forthcoming election in October 15, 2015.

Meanwhile, Engr. Ogbeifun has issued a press release reaffirming his commitment to contest the presidency of NISA. His release entitled: “why I want to be president of Nigeria Shipowners Association (NISA), stated, “whilst saluting the efforts of the erstwhile leaders of NISA, I acknowledge that they were trailblazers and pace-setters who have given their time and sacrificed a lot to bring this organization as institution this far.

“However, I believe that the time has come for fresh ideas and the charting of a new trajectory for the Nigeria Shipowners Association. After due consultations with friends, family and colleagues and pressure from industry players with a sense of responsibility, I offer myself as a candidate for the office of the president of NISA. “My mission is clear, “to build a united and empowered shipowners association”. “As I come into office, I bring with me a wealth of experience from both the private and public sectors of the maritime industry to sector the ship of NISA for the benefit, growth and development of its members and a robust and thriving maritime industry”, he stated.

According to him, “I am indeed optimistic that this marks the dawning of a new day for the shipowners association. I will run an administration where every member is carried along; no one will feel like an outsider. I will develop bilateral relations with key shipowners association in other regions as well as other international chambers of shipping. I will engage government and other related agencies on behalf of the upstream and downstream operators to dialogue on issues of members’ business welfare and interest”.

Also, the Lloyd’s Ambassador, Engr. Emmanuel Ilori has begun campaign for the position of NISA National Pubilicity Secretary. “It is time to take control of our present and secure our future. And this will require integrity, dedication and global broad and deep knowledge”. Ilori, came into the scene when some candidates were made to step out of the race.

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