Foremost Shipping Mogul and Board member, Nigerian International Maritime Summit (NIMS), Engr. Greg Utomwen Ogbeifun on Monday, has said that Nigeria now has an opportunity to revive its ”sleeping” shipping and maritime sector.
Ogbeifun, also Chairman, Starzs Group stated this at a press conference ahead of the maiden NIMS which held on Tuesday, October 5 to Wednesday, October 6, 2021.
Addressing newsmen, he said some core stakeholders initiated the NIMS, to reinvigorate Nigeria, for the onerous task of becoming the sub region’s industry super power.
He said that at the NIMS summit best brains from the Continent spoke on topical issues to create an enduring cluster for Nigerian maritime services, which presently, does not exist in the country.
“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.
Speaking also, the NIMS Chairperson, Mrs Mfon Usoro, expressed confidence in the capacity of the team to succeed beyond similar programmes organised in the past.
She stated that NIMS strategically focuses on a few sectorial issues that would make Nigeria a maritime superpower and regional maritime hub.
She said that the event is also timely as Nigeria prepares for the International Maritime Organisation’s Governing Council elections, due to take place later this year.
“We organised the NIMS in such a way that we didn’t packing too many topics into the two-day conference. We had two major topics per day such that the experts had sufficient time to deal with the issues”, she said.
Usoro added that the NIMS team would emphasis the implementation of industry recommendations arising from the event.
According to the NIMS Chief Executive Officer, Barr. Emeka Akabogu, Senior Partner, Akabogu and Associates, the summit is 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 gave more visibility to industry operators and maritime businesses as they came together, spoke on the challenges and proffered solutions.
Explaining that the initiative was all-subsectors-inclusive, Akabogu said that the outcome of the conference would drive the development of a maritime hub with specific timelines for the Nigerian maritime cluster to be achieved.
“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 was: ‘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 was an exhibition, this was because we were trying to generate business, knowledge, visibility, within and amongst the industry, and at the end there was an industry gala,” he said.