BY: AYO ESAN
The President of Shipowners Association of Nigeria, (SOAN), Dr MkGeorge O.Onyung has said that Shipowners hold the key to unlock the economic prosperity of Nigeria.
Onyung made this known while delivering his welcome address at the 1st Lagos International Shipping Expo with the theme : ” Shipping , Global Economy and International Development” in Lagos Wednesday.
The essence of the two days event being the first international shipping Conference to be organised by the Shipowners Association of Nigeria is to bring stakeholders and industry players together on the best way forward and give them the opportunity to discuss and proffers solution to the problems bedeviling the shipping industry as well as ensure the best practice of harnessing the Nigerian local contents.
Speaking, SOAN President said: “I want to say that I am bold with the authority bestowed on me as the president of the Shipowners Association of Nigeria to send a very clear message to our president and Commander in Chief of Nigeria Armed Forces , General Muhammadu Buhari who happened to be my boss sometime ago that the Shipowners hold the key to unlock the economic prosperity of our nation.
” As it is been said, shipping is 90 per cent of global trade. If there’s no shipping, there is no shopping. To those of you who have shopped before, you must understand that you are all involved in shipping. That’s why there is a connect between shipping and national development. And of course, controlling 90 per cent of the global economy is not moinmoin.
” I will however say that our sea fearers are the most important workers on earth as declared by the United Nations and we, Shipowners value their future because their future is a catalyst to our development. We cannot have ships and then handed them over to people who are incompetent . That’s why if anything happens to our crew , we take it as if it happens to members of our family”.
Onyung described the theme of the conference as appropriate one for the present time,” especially if you know what is happening to our country at this trying moment”.
Also speaking while delivering his keynote address, the Minister of Transportation , Hon. Rotimi Amaechi said over the years, shipping has been observed as one of the major catalysts for social- economic development.
Amaechi who was represented at the event by the Director of Reform Coordination and Service Improvement, Ministry of Transportation, Mrs Grace Atiegoba said shipping is a major key to globalisation.
He said government is mindful of challenges facing the maritime sector and that it is working hard to address the issues involved.
Transportation Minister said his ministry has put in place short, medium and long term measures to tackle the problems facing the maritime sector saying however that government is constrained by limited financial resources to adequately deal with these problems.
He said over the last four years, the Ministry of Transportation has placed close attention to maritime industry and that there are many concerns that have been raised by stakeholders including poor infrastructure of maritime institutions in Nigeria saying the Ministry is working hard to address all the concerns.
Speaking at the Expo, the Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Nigerian Contents Development and Monitoring, Hon. (Barrister) Ochiglebor Idagbo commended the Shipowners Association of Nigeria “for organizing the extra ordinary event which showcases the vital and pivotal role of the shipping value chain across the full spectrum, not just of our national economy but indeed the global economy – accounting directly or indirectly for 90 per cent of the global international trade”.
He said the National Assembly shares a special bond with the maritime industry.
” We are partners in progress. The real story of the Cabotage Act 2003 and the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Act 2010 is not that they were both Private Members Bills, but how they vividly demonstrated the commitment and determination of the extraordinary Nigerians in the maritime industry who were able to take advantage of these legislation and use them to successfully transform their industry into a multi – dimensional enabler actively supporting several critical sectors of our economy and employing thousands of Nigerians”.
Other dignitaries at the event include representative of the Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemi Saraki, Hajia Bola Muse.