Rev. Jonathan Nicol is the President, Shippers’ Association of Lagos State. In this interview with Joy Enamuna, he bared his mind on the awards by the Transport & Society Newspaper and the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), the Nigerian Shippers’ Council as the ports’ commercial regulator in Nigeria and many more. Excerpts;
Sir, you have just been giving an award by the Nigerian Transport and Nigerian Television Authority as the outstanding personality in maritime sector, how do you feel?
I am fascinated that for the first time in our history, Shippers Association is now being recognized publicly! Not to talk of their officers receiving public recognition.
I take my mind back to several years when you do everything for some people they don’t appreciate it and we continue with what we were doing and today, we are beginning to have appreciations from our own Nigerians and recognition from the general public.
I felt honoured, really honoured not only for myself but for the shipping industry and for the aspect that shippers are now honoured. I received it with all my heart!
Sir, you have spent more than 100 days in office how has the journey been so far in terms of success and challenges?
First of all, I will talk about success. One thing that gladdens my heart is that we turned out to be one pressure group and we put up a case with the federal government that we need a port regulator.
That during my tenure, the port regulator has now been appointed by the President of federal republic of Nigeria. The port regulator turned out to be the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), which we projected. I feel so fulfilled that the government listened to us. That is one aspect of achievement.
Challenges, yes! My challenge now is how would the Nigerian Shippers Council cope? Because the port is the pride of the nation and if we are able to put the port right, the international community would respect us so well.
I took my memory back, its about 18years now when we went to the port in Hang-bulk activities was going on inside the port, we saw just one person inside the port controlling the various equipments. The operator of the equipments knows where to transfer a particular container to and an automated truck not humanly driven would come pick the container, takes it to its destination. We are looking at Nigeria becoming a developed country. Very soon we will get there.
Sir, has the association been getting any support from the government?
I would say yes, he has been listening to us especially in the area of port regulator.
With the new government policies on rice, has it in any way restored your confident?
Well confident is built so let us see how it will go. I feel that we have gotten to a stage in this country where government should feel the heart beat of Nigerians. They should make the ordinary man on the street ‘elite’ happy. God will hear their cry quicker because, the elites are far from the government.
Do we have shippers association in other states?
Yes, we do! As at the moment we have 23 Shippers Association as I speak including Abuja. But to the best of my knowledge, for now the only very active association for now is the Shippers Association of Lagos state.
Why is it so?
Well, they don’t have much to do. May be, they deal with cargo from the airport.