A former National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu has called on the federal government to reconsider re-establishing the Nigeria National Shipping Lines (NNSL) to serve for both commercial and training purposes.
Shittu who made this call in a goodwill message at an event in Lagos recently recalled with nostalgia how as young persons would look forward to count the number of vessels on the fleet regretting that it was a shame that in his lifetime, a whole Nigerian pride was liquidated just like the Nigerian Airways.
“Why should everything just go the way? Because we use government agencies’ resources as our own inheritance, everybody who goes in there, rather than improve on what he met on ground, always bring it down. Please, those who can, let us have even one vessel with Nigerian flag, there goes our vessel.
“But please if there is one thing that I need to ask those of you who have the influence to talk to people up there, I know we can always have our say but those up there will have their way. Please, it is a pride to have another NNSL, it is a real pride”, he said.
While describing seafarers as very good people, he noted that they take a lot of risks taking cargoes from one part of the world to the other thereby gather knowledge even as he added that in the maritime sector, all our specialties were interwoven as it all boiled down to cargo as a commodity, hence the beginning of the jobs of the maritime operators.
“If there is no shipper, there won’t be cargo and if there is no cargo, there won’t be ship and if we don’t have ships, we don’t have ports. And then, if you don’t have ports, all the big government agencies will cease to exist but today, they all rule over all of us who are stakeholders.
“Just like you said, you have partners onshore. While you deal mostly with offshore, there are operators, stakeholders like ship chandeliers that will automatically work with vessels for supplies, you have the customs brokers that will show the way through the customs itinerary of clearing cargo, freight forwarders that will move cargo from one place to the other, even the transporter that will take it right from the ports to somewhere else. We are all interwoven but the unfortunate thing is that we have not been able to knit these interests in Nigeria to achieve anything at all.
“In those days, when you say you are a sailor, they look at you as a riff-raff but now, everybody knows the importance of the seafarers especially with the involvement of NIMASA, NPA etc but we have not done enough. Much as these government agencies are established to cater for everyone within the chain of maritime, they are selective in what they do and the resources they would have used to empower people who are doing this job, I can understand anytime we read newspapers that even those who have certificate among the seafarers don’t have where to go and practice before they become specialists and then we ask, what is wrong.
“Can’t someone get the acts together and help this maritime industry in such a way that they can stand as a buffer for other resources that we are using for our economy. Days are getting bad and worse, now that the government has decided that they are going to raise economic Policemen, that is what we call them, Assistant Directors in all government agencies where they are going to raise revenue, then be rest assured that those guys are going to add more problems to where we are and to what we have now.
“Every government agency will now have its own target just like the customs are having their own target and in order to help customs to generate their target, the customs brokers also help the customs man in uniform to generate his own target. So, in no time, the target will go round and the good old days will go by, we are going to do modernization and I hope the seafarers are doing modernization too”, he concluded.
Photo: Former National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu.
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