NIGERIA’S foremost shipping mogul, Greg Utowen Ogbeifun has observed that with the current level of the nation’s preparation, and the dedicated commitment of the Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside, Nigeria has every reason for a smooth sail, in its quest for Category ‘C’ of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
Ogbeifun made the observation in Lagos, while evaluating the nation’s current preparedness for the Council Seat, alongside other topical issues.
“If Nigeria is not admitted into the IMO Category C, then that is unfair. Nigeria is more than eligible to get into the Category ‘C’.
“Two years ago, you know I was smoking about this issue. But a lot has happened in two years. This country has made certain adjustments beyond the usual ‘baby talk talk’. There is a shift from where we were before, there is also a bit of more understanding now, especially by the relevant policy makers on the issue.
“They have become more focused in various areas; not only in NIMASA now, but also in the Nigerian Content Board which has done a lot to help from ‘behind the scenes’.
“Is it reflecting fully from our business? Maybe no, because of what we have been talking about; the Maritime Agencies are not responsible for the financial regulations of the country, and these are the issues which are eating not only the Maritime Operators or Shipping industry, but every sector.
“So we cannot blame the maritime sector.
“But, our international feasibility has improved. Dakuku has done a lot in the last two years, to bring Nigeria out into the international arena; his appointment as the Chairman of AMA (African Maritime Association). He is going all over the place…;
“I think this country has attracted the world to the efforts they are making in that respect; and that cumulated in the last Global Maritime Security Conference.
“That conference alone in my opinion, if IMO genuinely wants to see an improvement, they should now leverage on what happened in Abuja to build new bridges to bring these things into practice, unless they are looking towards giving ‘the dog a bad name, so as to hang it!’.
“I think this country has done a lot, and I’m glad that the Assistant Secretary General was in attendance to see it; and I expect him to go back and say Nigeria is surely fit for that, if they don’t give it to us, I think we should ignore them, and close our door!
“China closed themselves from the whole world and began to change their country. Korea did the same thing. Must you be jumping to London every day? They have shut the border, look at what is going on right now, everyone is catching a cold; now, gradually, things are happening. So, close the doors, let us look at ourselves and help ourselves! That’s all we need to do. As long as we keep tying ourselves to IMO, International Maritime Bureau (IMB), those people will want to give you a bad name to hang you.
“When we were trading, we needed to be twice as good as our colleagues, to be considered equal to them and that mentality has not changed even on an international level!
“Yes! we can take their statistics, but you and I know from what we hear. We are operators here, every time there is piracy, we hear, I have not heard about piracy for some time around here, but if you go and push a button and see what the IMB is pushing out, it’s a contrary to what you and I see here, so why should I worry about them?
“Is our waters safe? Maybe it’s not as safe as it should be, but there are efforts being made.
“At the World Maritime Day, when Dakuku was reading out the security visions, I was hearing it for the first time; if they can follow that kind of things too, there was one aspect I was passionate about, I was waiting for him not to mention anything about it and I was going to raise up my hand; but he did! And what was that? That, you cannot address the piracy issue; the kidnaping issue without addressing the social-economic welfare of the people who are doing these things!
“You can set up the Armies and all the Navies, if you don’t give something for these people to do, if you don’t address their day to day existence, you are wasting your time, but I’m glad that they also included it in the strategy to address our security, let us encourage them!” Ogbeifun indicated further.