Chief Jolapamo made the commendation last Friday at a farewell dinner organised by the association in honour of Armand.
“It is about four years now that ISAN welcomed Rebecca Armand to Nigeria and I make bold to say to you that we have not misplaced our priority by doing so, and she has also lived to our bidding to the extent wherever she will be, she will always be in our minds because she has done very well for the association in terms of assistance beyond visa applications and our going to the World Boat Show and the rest of it.
“It has really gone far beyond that and we will miss you but at the same time we all know that we all have to move on at one point or the other for the progress of not only ourselves but our countries and our race,” Jolapamo said.
Responding to the encomiums showered on her at the event, Rebecca Armand expressed confidence in the ability of Nigerian ship owners to hold on to their own given the right support. She said she will continue to work with them even in her new assignment under the Barack Obama administration in the United States.
“ISAN was one of the very first organisations that I worked with when I came into Nigeria and it is one of the few groups that I particularly invite back, invite to my home and that is because you all are special and I just feel so comfortable and happy helping you with all these things.
“What have I learnt and what have I been able to do over the past more than three years since we first arrived, so many things. I think I took on a good chunk of what you asked me to take on, probably not everything. Despite my best effort the government does not move at the speed of light. The emails kept coming and I have tried to respond,” Armand stated.
She said she had worked very closely with some opinion groups in creating training programmes for the maritime sector.
She said her department has also commenced the process of getting the annual Nigeria Maritime Expo (NIMAREX) accredited and certified by the US Mission in Nigeria as “one of our United States Department of Commerce certified trade fairs.”
to her, when completed, the accreditation will enable American companies participate in the annual expo which is a brainchild of the Nigerian Shipowners Association.
“I am leaving but I am not leaving. I will still be working on so many things Nigeria but really in the broader context of Africa. I am going to be working on President Obama’s “Doing Business in Africa” campaign and translating that into something for our domestic offices so that we can get them to help you better in terms of when you are trying to do business in the United States and also the Power Africa initiative that President Obama mentioned when he was down in South Africa .He has pledged the resources of the United States to add what I think is too small of an amount; 10,000 or 20,000 mega watts to the grids in six countries in Africa. I think we have to do more and we are going to be harnessing, training, and doing trade promotion activities all across the board to help get power to Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzanian, Ethiopia and Liberia; and Nigeria is the biggest partner in this. We are going to be signing an MOU on that. So I am very, very lucky that I get to continue to work on that while in Tampa, Florida. So I am working away but I am not walking away. I am still going to be around and hopefully I will be back at some point. I just want to say that I am deeply honoured to be here for more than three years and to have met all of you and to have worked with you in creating and strengthening the wonderful friendship that we have,” Armand said at the farewell dinner attended by several Nigerian ship owners and other maritime industry stakeholders.