After over 20 years of existence,the Nigerian Shipowners Association(NISA) last week inaugurated own corporate head office with fan fair in readiness to partner the current administration to influence policies that will improve the fortunes of the maritime industry.
Speaking at the occasion, the new President of NISA, Otunba Sola Adewumi said the actualisation of the new office as promised testifies to the existing unity, resilience and the shared belief in the potentials of the maritime industry.
He said the office represents more than a physical structure but a reflection of the collective commitment to the growth and development of Nigerian shipping sector.
According to him, “the essence of having an office is to have a place we can come together and interact for the development of the industry. You know shipping is very critical to the development of the economy. So we ship owners are determined to play a role in this current political dispensation. We believe that with an office like this we will be able to meet and assemble ideas to move the industry forward.
On how the association will position itself for opportunity maximization, he said, ” We will work with the relevant agencies of the government and the private sector to ensure that our presence is felt because you can see that our jobs are being taken over by foreigners. It is obvious that government is losing money a case in point is where some foreign firms are being asked to pay taxes evaded over the years. The question here is: How can the government recover from them? A lot of them will run away. But if we are properly positioned this kind of thing will not happen. We should be able to support the government.
On CVFF, he said there is already an approval but sees the new NISA playing a role beyond CVFF now, attesting that NIMASA is already working with the Primary Lending Institutions for disbursement. He said there are many things they can do, such as job and business opportunities to advance the cause of members.
On how NISA intends to reposition to compete with foreign shipping players, he said, ” We have relaunched ourselves to the stage with more commitment and remember there is Cabotage policy, if implemented to the letter, we will take our stage”. Asked if he is worried that the nation lacks national carrier, the President said he believes that educating the government about the sector will help to change the fortunes of the industry positively. As an association we can take this up with the government.
On how he intends to influence a collaboration between NISA and the rival Ship Owners Association of Nigeria(SOAN) to address challenges in the industry, he said, SOAN is a break away arm of NISA and lacks the capacity NISA have to influence policies, but we will try as much as possible to bring them closer for a common goal and good of the industry.
Reacting to the claim that SOAN members are the real ship owners, he asked, ” What is the name of the vessel of the current President of SOAN?
He further asked for their numerical strength, adding that NISA is the main umbrella body of shipowners with over one hundred members. However, there are associate members from the allied industries, he added.
The Chairman, Board of Trustees of NISA, Chief Isaac Jalopomo in his statement said, “It is a good thing that is happening after over two decades the first official office is being opened today. The association has been in doldrums for about nine years. We are just reviving it. So we look forward to better things to come.
On taking advantage of the current administration to reposition the fortune of members, ” I am expectant because the head(President Tinubu) invited us in 2015 under President Buhari when the All Progressives Congress, APC won the election to come up with maritime agenda. We did but it was not used. Some of the things that we wanted to see did not crystalize. But I believe that now that he is on the saddle he is not going to forget what he planned to do even when he was not there.
Cabotage and the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund(CVFF) are a part of shipping development, he said, observing that this two components of maritime development have not been made good use of.
“We have seafarers, though we are training them, the gains are yet to be seen. And at the heart of this is ship ownership which is the main thing. The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency( NIMASA) has never made shipping development a priority. It placed shipping development number six on schedule of importance from inception. If NIMASA had channeled the funds it spent on the floating dry dock to ship ownership and development we would have been somewhere today.” He added.