“Unless we have ships, we are just pretending that we are a maritime nation. Forget about the cargo, the coastline; forget about the waterfront or port. Nigeria needs to own vessels.” Those were the words of the Executive Secretary/CEO of Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Barrister Hassan Bello, when he received members of the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM) in his office in Lagos of Friday.
The NAMM members were at NSC’s Shippers Tower in Apapa on a courtesy call.
Bello lamented that despite the nation’s vast natural maritime endowments, not much has been done by the powers that be to build indigenous capacity.
Bello told the visiting Master Mariners that they have a role to play in reviving the shipping sector and in building indigenous tonnage.
“That glory must be restored. Your association must have a role to play in re-fleeting this country,” he said.
The NSC boss also lamented that despite being a member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Nigeria stills relies totally on foreign shipping companies to ship its crude oil.
“We don’t have ships to carry our oil. When people hear that; it is kind of funny for Nigeria – a member of the OPEC, a very serious one for a very long time and yet you allow people to come and carry your oil? It is bizarre.
“You have to partner with us more because now it’s a question of replacing, re-strategizing so that the contribution of the maritime industry to the nation will be practical and not all these seminars we go and talk about potentials. I will like to see proposals from your association. The time to translate it is now. We have people who can still galvanize this industry. Why should we have this retrogression?” he asked.
Earlier in his remarks, President of the Association, Captain Ade Olopoenia, expressed appreciation to the council for its support even as he appealed on behalf of the association to be included in the maritime seminar for judges.
“We have not been playing active role in these proceedings. If it is possible that we have more involvement and participation in the judges’ seminar, we will appreciate it. As Master Mariners, when issues of legal matters come up the industry, we have the rare competence to advice on areas that are necessary,” he said.
Olopoenia also pledged the association’s support to the council in achieving its mandate given its new status as economic port regulator.
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