Frontline Master Mariner and Chairman of Integrated Oil and Gas Limited, Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho has called for more participation of Nigerian players in shipping to improve the country’s economy.
He lamented the foreign domination of the sector by foreign owners and operators.
Iheanancho made this known in an interview with MMS Plus at his Lagos Office.
“Shipping is an area that is dominated by foreign ownership and operators; it is also an area where we can improve the performance of our economy through our participation in the production process.
Shipping, incidentally is highly capital intensive, it isn’t only highly capital intensive for Nigerian players, it is the same all over the world and in most economies, people generally make provision for help for shipping because shipping act as a catalyst for developing other sectors of the economy. Shipping is a function of trade” he disclosed.
Speaking further, Iheanacho while highlighting the many benefits of having an indigenous participation in shipping disclosed that it will have an influence on the level of freight rates paid by Nigerians while also providing thousands of jobs.
“So, if you have a very good shipping connection run by indigenous operators, this will have an influence on the level of freight rates that people pay because you can bring in your own ships and say, look if you are going to overcharge, we will bring our own ships to do the job, it will create job opportunities, it will create opportunities for the development of trade, pave way for the acquisition of technology.
“I don’t see what you can do regarding the growth of the Nigerian economy without reference to the need for us to participate more fully in the process” he disclosed.
Speaking on the controversies surrounding the non-disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), Iheanancho expressed optimism that the fund will be disbursed.
He also called for caution in the disbursement highlighting the importance to monitor the how the fund is used to guide against the repeat of past experiences.
“There must be a reason why the funds have not been disbursed; if you listen to the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh, he has been very outspoken in terms of his support for the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) and has been supportive of the idea that the money be disbursed.
The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo has also been very supportive and I will also say that it would be a good idea for the money to be disbursed to people who want to go into the business, serious people who have genuine workable proposals.
There must be a caveat that, you just don’t buy a ship for the sake of buying, you must look into areas of our economy where there are gaps in the supply of shipping by Nigerians.
So, in those areas, do we have Nigerians who have the capacity to provide the required services? If the answer is yes, then we look at what is holding them down. If the answer to that is that the resources are not available, then we can work with the banks to make funding available to them.
It is also very important to monitor what they are doing. Experiences that we have had in the past where such investment went down the drain would not occur again” he