…Says global trading ship imperative
The immediate past President of Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Engr. Greg Ogbeifun has advocated for measurable strategies to be put in place to monitor the level of progress made by Nigeria in its quest to fully participate in the continent-wide trade – the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Speaking at the 3rd Annual Lecture and Awards held in Lagos two days ago by Primetime Reporters with the theme, “Assessing Nigeria’s Preparedness to Maximize the Gains of AfCFTA”, Ogbeifun recalled that the dearth of the Cabotage Act in Nigeria was as a result of the inability of the federal government to adhere to the provisions of the Act which provided for five year performance evaluation of the Cabotage which was never done.
He therefore warned that AfCFTA should not be allowed to go the way of the Cabotage regime in Nigeria by ensuring a yearly performance evaluation to measure the level of progress being made by the country to achieve her dream of becoming a big time player in the AfCFTA regime.
His words, “We have a strategy, do we have a roadmap? We are here now, that is where we want to go but let us take it in milestones and genuinely put strategies in place – measurable strategies where we can check if we are going according to the plans we set out for ourselves.
“Generally, we have very beautiful ideas but we don’t take practical steps to actualize. Cabotage, four pillars of Cabotage are still using waivers fifteen years down the line. Now, the people that put the Cabotage Act together wisely indicated that the provisions of the Act should be evaluated every five years to see how we are performing and that is where the whole thing fell apart because that five year review of performance wasn’t there. I think that is what we need to do with the free trade initiative.
“This is 2021, we are one percent, let us give ourselves a task that in 2022, twelve months later, we should at least be at two percent. If we don’t do that, come 2022, 2023 to 2024, we are still at one percent and that is the challenge we have.”
Recalling his days as the President, Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Ogbeifu who is also the Chairman of Starzs Investment Company Limited said that he fought, spoke, gave talks and everything about re-establishing a global trading national fleet adding that the Hassan Bello led committee made presentations to all levels of government up to the National Economic team headed by the Vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo twice.
“Beautiful response, he (Osinbajo) handed it over to Enelamah who was then Minister, fantastic, he gave marching orders then. Enelamah handed us over to Yewande of NIPC, fantastic engagement. Yewande now passed it on to the National Planning Committee, we were with Udo Udoma, fantastic engagement from there, we went to CBN. We are going round in the circle.
“The reason we don’t have the national fleet in the country today is because of the government. That is where the problem is. Now, if the government appreciates the fact that without having such a platform we are not going to participate effectively in this initiative, then, they should come out and say what is the bottleneck, let us unlock it, it is very simple. What are the other countries doing to make a national fleet a reality? We copy it and we put all that on the table, all the issues.
“For me, there isn’t the political will, I don’t know why because the country is losing heavily by not having national fleet. Every time you go along Marina and you look at Apapa Wharf, all the ships you have there are foreign ships bringing in our own imports and taking away our exports. We need to have a global trading ship”, he stated.
Photo: Chairman, Starzs Investment Company Limited, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun
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