It was the English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist, William Shakespeare, who said that coins always make sound but currency notes are always silent.
The Bard advised that “whenever your value increases, keep yourself calm and silent”. People of value are wise and careful with their utterances and actions.
Truly, an empty barrel makes the loudest noise and one place where we have empty barrels in abundance is the maritime industry.
The maritime industry is one place where people of mediocre abilities lay claim to expertise. A few days ago in Abuja, I heard a man who, a few years ago, was a typist claim that “there is no where in the world where…” but before he could finish his sentence, a very wise Abuja-based government official asked him if he had visited every country of the world to lay claim to knowing the trend in every part of the globe. It turned out that our typist turned ‘maritime expert’ had travelled to only Ghana – by bus – in his whole life. He had never been to Europe, America, Australia or Asia. He had never carried out any comparative analysis of the regulatory trend elsewhere, yet he sits here and bamboozles the gullible with an expertise he did not possess. And he is one of the most vociferous. Our friend uses his loud voice and noise to drown opposing views. Those who have substance in their arguments simply walk away rather than join issues with such a character. It would be futile arguing with someone so steep in self-adoration worship.
The thing with the barrel is that it won’t make any noise if you don’t hit it with a rod or stick or mere hand. So does the empty barrel really make the loudest noise? Are not those hitting it the ones making a noise? The sound that eventually comes from the empty barrel is a result of cause and effect. Without a preceding action, emptiness will remain still. Without an argument, the emptiness of someone like our friend will remain still.
A major problem of the maritime sector is the preponderance of pseudo-leaders. The sector has abundant potentials but its growth is stunted largely by the low quality of its leaders.
Have you heard that weird joke by those comedians where they tell us that God once was queried by other nations for His apparent bias treatment of a country called Nigeria? They alleged that the countries complained that God so loved Nigeria that He gave her everything needed to be the greatest in the world. But God laughs all knowingly and asked them to wait until they see the caliber of leaders he would give to Nigeria. I hasten to add that this joke is apt with regards to the maritime sector.
I find the views of many of the noisy pseudo-leaders and ‘experts’ in the maritime sector immature and sometimes appalling. A philosopher once noted that something is odd if a person is not liberal when he is young and conservative when he is old. I am far from being a conservative but one matures and regards some of the views of one’s younger years as undeveloped and callow. But for many of these pseudo-leaders, nothing changes. When you hear then shout, it is because their interests are being threatened or they fear that they could lose relevance. Their agitations are never altruistic. They will go as far as pull down an organization to maintain their nuisance value.
Many a times, these pseudo-leaders play the roles of saboteurs and spoilers. They are the ‘opposite people’ in Fela’s song. They are disagreeable and polarize the industry. They stunt the growth of the shipping sector in pursuit of selfish interests. They make misleading statements and dish out false information.
But the real valuable leaders are not noisy. I respect Mr. Chidi Ilogu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and one of the most respected lawyers in the country.
A man of very few words, Ilogu told me: “Bolaji, forget all these noise. Focus on the substance”. What a wise counsel. We should henceforth forget the noisy lot and pay attention to real issues in the maritime sector. These people are not fighting for us, but for their own selfish interests.
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