Labinjo not qualified to be NISA President, say Ogbeifun, Omatseye

All is not well with the Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA) as the centre has been unable to hold since the election of penultimate Friday which produced former Secretary of the association, Capt. Niyi Labinjo as President.

Labinjo had unexpectedly defeated frontline contender, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun and former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Temisan Omatseye.

At the election conducted on 24th October, 2014 at Rockview Hotel, Apapa, Lagos; Labinjo polled 31 votes to defeat Ogbeifun, a marine engineer and pioneer Chairman of the annual Nigeria Maritime Expo (NIMAREX), who polled 23 votes while Omatseye got six votes.

But in a petition dated 28th October 2014 sent to the association’s electoral committee (ASSECO), copy of which was obtained exclusively by SHIPS & PORTS DAILY, Ogbeifun said that contrary to NISA’s constitution, Al-Dawood Shipping who are the sponsors of Captain Labinjo do not own a vessel and he was therefore not qualified to contest the election.

He stated: “According to Article 4 of the constitution (that deals with the issue of membership) which provides that for any person or corporation to be a member he should “own at least one ship of not less than 150 GRT registered under the Merchant Shipping Act 200″. It is therefore our position that Al-Dawood Shipping who are the sponsors of one of the presidential contestants do not own a vessel and therefore was not qualified ab initio to have contested for the post in as much that at the time the election took place the said Al-Dawood did not own a vessel and should not have been considered to be a member of the Association.”

Ogebifun also claimed that Labinjo ought to have been disqualified from contesting the election because he did not pay the association’s due as required by the election guidelines.

“At the AGM on the 10th December 2013 it was agreed upon that members can only be qualified to participate in the election by fulfilling the payment of at least 10% of

their indebtedness up to date to the Association before the 31st March 2014.

“As at the time of the election, Capt. Labinjo had not complied with the financial requirements as he was said to have been granted a waiver by the outgoing Chairman.

“The Chairman was confronted by ASSECO on this matter and he was made to realise that he could not unilaterally flout the resolution reached at the AGM.

“Our position is that a thorough investigation be conducted to ascertain if all the voters including the Associate members complied with the decision taken at the AGM on the payment of at least 10% of their indebtedness.

He also requested that an audit of members be carried out on those who actually voted to ensure that the cut-off date of membership as required which was the last AGM of the association held on 9th October 2014 was met “and also that those who claim to be members in actual fact paid their membership fee and were eligible to vote”.

Ogbeifun called for the cancellation of the election result stating that, “In view of the above allegations and our position, I request that the results of the Presidential election be set aside and that any and all plans to inaugurate the said NISA executive be put on hold subject to the final outcome of the findings of the Electoral Appeal Panel.”

The other Presidential contestant, Mr. Temisan Omatseye also told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY that he had filed in a separate petition to appeal panel also alleging irregularities.

Meanwhile there are strong indications that many of the elected officials and some other shipowners may pull out of NISA to form a new association.

“There is no use remaining in NISA because there are some people there who want to maintain the status quo by all means. Most of us can no longer be a part of such platform. We don’t speak the same language,” one of the newly-elected executives who did not want his name in print told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY.

It is also expected that apart from the newly elected Lagos Coordinator, Emeka Ndu and Port Harcourt Coordinator, Emi Membere-Otaji who resigned from the position last week, at least four other elected officials will send in their letters of resignation this week – all expressing their unwillingness to work with Labinjo.

Meanwhile, the NISA election appeal panel on met with the three presidential aspirants in Lagos on Friday.

The decision of the panel on the various issues raised by the aggrieved contestants is expected this week.