Maritime stakeholders shift attention to SOAN election, after final rites of Ogbeifun Matriarch


Attention has finally shifted this week, to the strenuous activities of electing another dynamic leadership for the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), sequel to the completion of the funeral rites of the Deaconess Cecilia Izogie Ogbeifun, mother of SOAN current President, Engr. Greg Utowen Ogbeifun.

Investigation showed that serious campaigns by members of the prestigious club of shipowners have begun in earnest, even as a SOAN member who did not want his name in print confirmed that a Returning Officer was already appointed for an election which we learnt may hold next week (March 26, 2019). The inauguration of the yet to be elected executives is also slated to hold on the 30th of March, 2019.

Unconfirmed report indicated that the revered body, in a bid to sustain its characteristic high profile, objectivity, standard, as well as fulfill all righteousness, has invited several stakeholders and Government parastatals, including the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), and the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping (NCS) amongst others, to oversee the election.

It would be recalled that the nation’s highly revered Shipping mogul, Ogbeifun had on 11th December, publicly announced at the SOAN’s 2018 End of Year Workshop and Dinner in Lagos, that he would be stepping down as head of the altruistic ship-owners’ body in March 2019, when the tenure of the present executive would end, to enable the honourable members elect another dynamic ship-owner, having served the statutory two-tenure, constitutionally allowed.

He observed at the 2018 Dinner: “It is with mixed feelings that I address you at this gathering for the last time in my capacity as the President of the Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN). I would like to use this opportunity to thank all the industry stakeholders and government MDA’s for the commitment, support and encouragement they have accorded the association since inception.

“I urge you to accord the same to the incoming President and EXCO of this honourable association so that we can consolidate on the gains we have made so far in order to reposition the maritime and shipping industry as a strategic driver for the national economic development of our dear nation. I also want to express my profound gratitude to the EXCO’s (past and present) of SOAN for their ardent commitment to achieving the association’s objectives.  And finally, I would like to thank the esteemed members of this great association for giving me the opportunity to serve”, he concluded, receiving a standing ovation.

It is instructive that since her inauguration in November 2014, SOAN has become an important enabler of maritime discourse both within and outside Nigeria.

In November 2015, SOAN was invited by the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) to lead the private sector delegation to the Commonwealth Business Forum in Malta. Following that successful outing, the SOAN President was appointed member of the Advisory Board of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC).

But beyond these, the often envied body has through its constructive engagements, increased government’s interest and participation in global maritime opportunities such as the Nigerian Maritime Autumn Event which was held on the 28thof September 2016 with the theme “Nigeria’s Maritime Industry as a Driver of Growth”.

The association has had several engagements with relevant maritime MDA’s and stakeholders with a view to facilitating the streamlining of government policy direction to actualize realistic maritime potential. Some of these engagements include:

*NIMASA on Cadetship Training Scheme, Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), Waivers, and for CBN’s intervention funds and special interest rates for the maritime sector.

With the NCDMB, the body opened up highly fruitful discussion on Vessel Categorization, and Cadetship/Funding support; while with the NAPIMS, it is on record that the group visionary leadership pursued issues of Contract Terms, Vessel Hire Rates, and Dollar/Naira Payment Ratio.

It prudently engaged the Federal Ministry of Transportation on issue Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) and with the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, it achieved an inspiring record for cadetship training support and engagement.

In the meantime, Nigerian maritime industry stakeholders and operators have continued a rain of felicitation message to the SOAN arrowhead, in honour of his late mother and Matriarch of the Ogbeifun family of Benin City, Edo State, who passed on to glory of January 9th, 2019 at the ripe age of 100 years; and was buried on March 7th, 2019 in Benin City, the Edo State capital, witnessed by several dignitaries.

These includes the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki; Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside; Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, Engr. Simbi Wabote, former Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, Chief Adebayo Sarumi and former Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC, Adamu Biu were among guests that graced the occasion.

The list also included the immediate past President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu; former President, Maritime Arbitrators Association of Nigeria (MAAN), Dr. Omoegbai Omo Eboh and former President, Association of Marine Engineers and Surveyors (AMES), Engr. Charles Uwadia, among others.

Speaking of the Matriarch, the SOAN arrowhead described his mother as a good mother, who painstakingly looked after her children, until she drew her last breath on January 9th.

“No matter how old she was, knowing that you have a mother will always give you that confidence in doing what you want to do.

“I call my mother a good mother hen. When a hen hatches, she will cover those chicks with her wings and they will stay there in safety and the hen generally oversees her children until they become independent enough and that was what mama was.

“All of us 10 that she gave birth to, she also nurtured to imbibe certain qualities in life such as integrity, honesty, hard work and she always admonished us to have a relationship with Christ so that we can live a worthy Christ like-life.

“Mama was always focused on her children with my father, before he passed on, ensuring that we toe the part of honesty and integrity and above all, the fear of God”, Engr. Ogbeifun highlighted further.

Photo: SOAN President, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun.

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