Mr Greg Ogbeifun, a Board member, Nigerian International Maritime Summit (NIMS) said that Nigeria had been presented with an opportunity to revive its ”sleeping” shipping and maritime sector.
Ogbeifun, also Chairman, Starz Group, who said this at a press conference ahead of the maiden NIMS event, added that the NIMS summit was expected to lead to the creation of a cluster for Nigerian maritime services, which does not presently exist in the country.
He said that it was a matter of good coincidence that there was a headline, `Nigeria poised to become a maritime hub’, an indication that we were all moving in the right direction.
“We implore the press to push out a positive image of our industry, both at home and globally. It is not unusual to have naysayers in every industry.
“It is a democratic world, people are free to say their feelings, but I appeal to the press to see the positive side of this initiative and project that for the good of not only the industry, but the nation,” Ogbeifun said.
Also, the Chairperson, Mrs Mfon Usoro, expressed delight with the personalities behind NIMS and confident that the team would succeed and surpass similar programmes initiated in the past.
According to Usoro, the upcoming NIMS was strategically focused on a few sectoral issues that would make Nigeria a maritime superpower and regional maritime hub.
She said that the summit was also timely as Nigeria prepared for the International Maritime Organisation’s Governing Council elections, due to take place later this year.
“We have organised NIMS in such a way that we aren’t packing too many topics into the two-day conference. We are having two major topics per day so that the experts would have sufficient time to deal with the issues,” she said.
Usoro noted that several industry conferences had provided worthy recommendations that were never implemented, so NIMS will seek to learn from the failures or shortcomings of previous engagements in order to positively impact the industry.
Also, Mr Emeka Akabogu, Senior Partner, Akabogu and Associates, noted that the summit was geared towards the development of the Nigerian maritime industry.
“It is one thing to aspire, pay lip service and another to take definite, deliberate and strategic steps towards achieving your desires.
“Over the past 50 years, we had a desire that Nigeria should become a maritime hub.
“It will not happen by magic, it will happen by deliberate, practical steps so that all the ships, which call in the West African sub-region, will potentially transit through Nigeria,” he said.
He said that the conference was organised to expose the operators in the maritime industry and for the Nigerian maritime businesses to come together, speak on the challenges and proffer solutions.
Akabogu added that the conference would similarly facilitate those issues which drive the development of a maritime hub and, at the end, set specific timelines for the Nigerian maritime cluster to be achieved.
Akabogu noted that there was no subsector in the maritime industry that was not represented, including ship owners, importers, terminal operators, stevedores, marine surveyors, master mariners, lawyers, financial services, among others.
“We want to develop the industry, there is no reason why all the ships that call in western and central Africa should not have Nigeria as a hub for docking services, minor and major repairs and even for building.
“That is why the theme of the summit is: ‘Becoming a significant maritime nation, becoming a regional maritime superpower’. Nigeria is known as the giant of Africa and we want to see the industry take ownership of its own destiny.
“In addition to the four sessions, there is an exhibition, this is because we are trying to generate business, knowledge, visibility, within and amongst the industry, and at the end there would be an industry gala,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the summit is billed to hold from Oct. 5 to Oct. 6 with the objective of creating jobs for youths, ensuring skills development and enhancing the deep blue project. (NAN)