• Friday, March 01, 2024
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BusinessDay

‘My target is to create contracts for Nigerian ship owners to get cash flow for vessel acquisition’

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Temisanren Omatseye, former director-general of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has declared his intention to contest for the position of president, Nigeria Indigenous Ship Owners’ Association (NISA), the umbrella association of Nigerian ship owners. In this interview, he speaks on his vision for NISA, if elected into office.

Experience in shipping business

Sincerely, maritime and shipping is my major. As the former DG of NIMASA, I saw the need to prepare a maritime administration that works well and I have also seen the plight of ship owners. I have been in the industry to understand that we need to see how we can bring the maritime administration to a position with the ship owners so that the industry can move forward.

Challenges of Nigerian ship owners

Ship owners are facing a lot of challenges especially in securing contracts from international oil companies IOCs and others. I have always said this, that a man who does not have cash flow cannot run a successful business. Here, the businesses that should naturally be given to Nigerians, who are capable of doing them, are being given to foreign ship owners who are not domiciling the money in Nigeria but rather taking it away as capital flight.

Consequently, Nigerian ship owners are not able to buy standard vessels and to pay for some kind of services, such as buying of bunkers. A Nigerian ship owner would rather buy his bunkers directly from a Nigerian bunkering supplier while a foreign ship owner would rather go to Lome, in Togo and such money would be lost to outsiders. Right now, we have to look at how to discourage capital flight. In terms of food, Nigerian crew prefer to eat our local food like garri, egusi, ogbono, and stuffs like that, which they buy from Nigerian market. Whereas foreign crews have to import almost everything they eat.

So, when we come on board, one of our mandates would be to find ways to gain the support of our maritime administration so as to enable ship owners meet international standards. We will also find ways to create the contract for Nigerian ship owners to get cash flow to be able to acquire internationally acceptable vessels. Already, I am discussing with the Nigeria Stock Exchange on how we are going to get the Nigerian ship owners to come together and raise IPO’s to buy vessels through the new SMEs windows.

Building synergy among stakeholders

The first thing I would do is to bring all Nigerian ship owners together irrespective of the type of vessel they own such as offshore vessels, fishing trawlers, tankers and others under one umbrella. Now, within that umbrella, we can operate and speak with one voice, have unity of purpose because we are all buying our bunkers and sourcing for our seafarers from the same place. Therefore, we should also be able to draw in the master mariners, the dockworkers, and the chandeliers to come in and work with us because it’s us shippers that are providing the businesses that drive them to come. So, if I emerge as president of the association, my aim would be to bring everybody on board.

Also, we will work closely with other government institutions because we need to let government hear us. We will show government the benefits of having a very strong ship owners’ association. And we are going to show government the drain pipes on the economy and the impact of non utilisation of Nigerian ship owners. We will also show the government how to block these loopholes in order to save the capital flight we are currently experiencing in our economy.

On security, we will also try to see how we can get the Nigerian Navy to shut down on illegal trawlers and then bring foreign partners to work on Nigerian ship trawlers. I want to get government to take over KLT II, and make it a seafood hub/ depot for all trawlers. The problems trawler owners are facing is their bunkers, so we are going to create a fuel station, where people that come and buy fish will fuel you, so that you don’t have to carry cash.

Management style

My management style is delegation.  I like to have people who are smarter than me around me. And basically, I try to act as a leader who shows the way to others and have them deliver to the best of their abilities. What that means is that if you leave tomorrow, there won’t be a vacuum in leadership when you do a lot of delegation.