ISAN declares 2012 a disastrous year for Nigerian ship owners
• Paints gloomy picture of 2013
The association also said that its members are not expecting anything good to come out of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration this year in terms of developing the shipping sector.
“From this government, we expect nothing in 2013,” said ISAN General Secretary, Captain Niyi Labinjo, during an exclusive interview with SHIPS & PORTS DAILY, adding that “It will be disaster as usual. Our investments continue to diminish, more and more shipping companies continue to fold up.”
Labinjo accused the Federal Government of deliberately taking actions that continue to stifle the growth of maritime, resulting in diminished investments and collapse of over eighty percent of indigenous shipping companies.
The ISAN scribe said that the appointment in December 2012 of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain, Chief Tony Anenih and a retired Colonel of the Nigerian Army, Agbu Kefas, as chairmen of the board of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), respectively, was a clear indication that government has been taking a dangerous political gamble with the shipping sector.
“Why we do not expect anything from this government is because the morning shows the day. A government that can bring Tony Anenih as Chairman of the Board of NPA, despite his poor outing the first time a government that can bring a Lieutenant-Colonel to head NIMASA, despite copious provisions in the law that you cannot be a member of the board of maritime agencies if you do not have maritime discipline or training, cannot be said to be serious about developing the sector.
“We are yet to see any benefit from the cabotage law in almost ten years. We cannot see anything to show for the shipping aspect of the local content law all due to poor implementation because the wrong people are there. Stakeholders are not happy. No civil servant can claim to know better than the stakeholders. Stakeholders are the practitioners. If you now bring political appointees who cannot add value, what do you get? Nothing,”Labinjo stated.
He came hard on President Jonathan for using the various government agencies in the maritime industry to “create jobs for the boys and political jobbers.”
Labinjo declared: “What value is retired Lieutenant-Colonel Kefas bringing to NIMASA? What value did Anenih add to NPA in his first outing? What value will he bring now? So, our expectation for 2013 is nil, and that is the position of ISAN.”
He said despite the presidential maritime retreat hosted by President Goodluck Jonathan last year where ISAN led other stakeholders to educate the President on the importance of shipping and on measures to adopt to advance the cause of the maritime industry, “the President still condescended to taking retrogressive actions as can be seen in his appointments into the boards of sensitive agencies like NIMASA and NPA.”
Labinjo said: “We thought with the exposition during the maritime retreat, government will be awaken to the reality that we are losing over N2 trillion annually in the maritime sector and that we can create five million jobs in the sector. We thought the government has been sensitized enough and would take positive action. Is the action they are taking in the direction of growth?”
He also criticised the incumbent Director-General of NIMASA, Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, for failing the ship owners.
“Two years now, we cannot have the CV of the DG NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi. They may be hiding something because he does not qualify to head the agency. Government thinks maritime is a place where you must give jobs for the boys. So, ask me what do I expect? I expect nothing and we will continue to lose,” he added.
Copyright Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to www.shipsandports.com.ng as the source.