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SOAN in industry partnerships to create job opportunities for Nigerians–Okoigun

SOAN  2nd Vice President,  Mr. Alfred Okoigun

The Ship
Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) in partnership with key stakeholders in
the maritime industry is creating a broad spectrum of job opportunities for young

SOAN President, Greg Ogbeifun, 
The SOAN 2nd
Vice President and Chairman, Organising Committee, End of Year AGM, Mr. Alfred
Okoigun, revealed this in Lagos at the weekend.
highlighted the remarkable success and prospects of the ongoing collaboration,
and the anticipated gains, in terms of brighter industry future; and of days
when the body would freely train the nation’s cadets and provide them new vista
of genuine hopes.
He said: “We are beginning to get the collaboration of the
industry players like the Nigerian Local Content Board, the NAPIMS office,
NIMASA, etc with every one of them, not just listening but even asking us: what
are your challenges; and where can we help you. This was not a common thing
He added that
it was remarkable to have honourable personalities including the Minister of
Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, the Petroleum Minister of State, Dr. Ibe
Kachukwu, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Local Content Board, Simbi Wabote,
and the Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency
 (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, among others identify with SOAN, five
years into its formation.
His words:  “This was not how it used to be in the past
when we operated as if we were on our own and they were on their own; fighting
one another and even as some of the coordinating ministry were also not in
“But through
the SOAN, we have been able to blend them all together, because we have
emphasized the importance of National Interest!
“Can you imagine the fact that with the quantum of water we are
endowed with, we have not harnessed and prospered from it?
“If you go to Holland, Sweden, Norway or even Dubai of recent,
without much of water; you can see what they are doing with their waters. But
here, we are just scratching the surface!
“So, this
year is to really get the Government and the key players together, to enable
all parties, brainstorm and explore how we need to continue to collaborate and
improve together in the overall interest of both the Maritime industry and the
“Let’s collaborate together; let’s broaden out and let’s leave a
legacy,” the shipping mogul stated, emphasizing that the body has actually
achieved far more than verbal recognition or acceptance of the relevant
decision makers.
“For instance, our collaboration with the Local Content
Development Board had tilted the table favourably for Nigerians. I remember
some eight or ten years ago, when some of us were in to bid for contracts with
any of the IOCs, the list of the bidders were usually of the foreign companies.
For you to be even admitted to be one of the participants was a big deal. But
today, I have seen that the list of the bidders approved by NCMB was 99 per
cent of our local companies, at least in some categories!
“And even those that were not indigenous companies were still
Nigerian registered companies; where Nigeria enjoys a 51/49 per cent favorable
tilt. That is the level it is now. And why is that possible? It is because the
local content law is there! And we also have focused people, who are standing
out, to implement it.
“So, the issue is no longer that of not giving Nigerians the room
to operate, it is now the challenge of Nigerians coming out to perform.
“Before, there was no ear to cry to, today, we have several ears,
listening to see where we can be helped.
“We have some relevant stakeholder who should join us; but are
still outside. But I am happy that some of them are already appreciative of
what SOAN is able to do. We are using the tools of personal engagement, as well
as the media to let them know they should no longer stay out.
Speaking on what to expect at the 2018 AGM holding on Tuesday
December 11, at the Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, Afred Okoigun
confirmed the personal attendance of the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi
Amaechi; and the Minister of State, Petroleum, Ibe Kachukwu as Special Guests
of Honours, and some other dignitaries; adding that the Doyen of the Nigerian
Maritime Industry, High Chief, Adebayo Babatunde Sarumi would be the Chairman
of the occasion.
He also provided a list of top class leaders who would be in
attendance as guest speakers and panellists including Managing Director of the
Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman; the NCDMB Executive Secretary,
Simbi Kesiye Wabote, GGM NAPIMS, Mr. Roland Ewubare; the Chief of Naval Staff,
Vice Admiral, Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas; and the NIMASA Director General, Dr. Dakuku
“We are expecting strong stakeholders to participate. We have
zeroed seriously on the real professional, because we are talking of issues of
National interest”, he emphasised, noting that the Comptroller General of
Immigration will equally be in attendance.
Comptroller General of Immigration will equally be in attendance. This again
underscores the importance of bringing everyone together, because at the end of
the day, if we say the foreigners are dominating our industry, we must also
understand that it is the immigration that issues them the endorsement. So,
they should know what we are doing!
He identified the initial selfishness with which many stakeholders
had pursued issues of common interest in the past as reasons why things did not
work, pointing out that at the current pace and with the level of commitment,
on the parts of both Government and industry operators, the youths would soon
begin to smile.
“Why many things have not succeeded in this country is because
when some people say they are fighting for other people, the reality is that
they fight purely, for their individual concern!” he said, adding that
acceptance and recognition for SOAN only came, after the stakeholders
identified the body’s altruistic and selfless goals.
He expressed his joy that the body has also overcome the
debilitating feeling of ‘Nigerians cannot deliver’, adding that it was this
feeling that largely positioned the industry in the hands of foreigners.
“But of course, financing still remain a big problem of the whole
industry’, he indicated further, noting that “the people they are competing
with are those that are from countries which granted loans under 10 percent per
annum, when loans are sourced in Nigeria at a minimum of about 14 percent.
“But, can that stop us? No!” he posited, even as he stressed the
determination of both the country and the SOAN to provide desired training
opportunity to its youths. He strongly believed that the ongoing collaboration
with NIMASA would achieve the desired results.
Also speaking on the occasion, the SOAN President, Engr. Greg
Ogbeifun, expressed satisfaction that the body had between the last AGM and
now, not only achieved at least 70 percent of its targeted objectives, but also
achieved a paradigm shift in the perception and operations of shipping in the
“One of the great achievements of SOAN in the last 12 months is
that as a result of our last outing, there has been huge paradigm shift, from
the way Government and government agencies have been tackling issues relating
to the Maritime sector.
“I’m pleased to inform you that out of the several issues we
raised last year, a good 70 percent of them have already been addressed; and
the rest are being addressed in a space of 12 months, courtesy of the SOAN.
There has been quite some tremendous growth in the establishment.
“To name a few, as a result of our outing and constructive
engagement of government, I can confidently tell you that the Hon. Minister of
Transport has now decided to see to the possible conclusion of the disbursement
of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) to the extent that he has now
taken the issue to the Presidential level for assent.
“Behind the scene, a lot is going on positively, because we are
constantly engaging, and there has been a more positive disposition from NIMASA
and the leadership of NIMASA on issues that concerns us”, he explained further.
The SOAN First Vice President, Dr. McGeorge Onyong, stressed
the need for synergy between Government and the shipowners, noting that since
Nigeria is blessed with both cargo and ships, it should not be an
insurmountable challenge to harness it, alongside its other resources, so as to
bring succor to all Nigerians, especially the youths, more so, that SOAN has
the specialized knowledge, and the capacity to re-invent the industry.
He was genuinely optimistic that Nigeria would one day be lifting
its cargo, saying that though he can’t be emphatic of the time, nonetheless he
knows that Nigeria is very close to doing that, working in close collaboration
with relevant stakeholders.

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