• Sunday, May 26, 2024
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New SOAN Executives to harness opportunities in Nigeria’s $300bn blue economy

New SOAN Executives to harness opportunities in Nigeria’s $300bn blue economy

Sonny Eja, the newly inaugurated president of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), said the association under his leadership will focus on maximising opportunities in the nation’s $300 billion blue economy for the benefit of members and the economy at large.

Delivering a speech during the inauguration of the new executives and council members of SOAN in Lagos at the weekend, Eja said the Nigerian Marine and Blue Economy has the potential to create 50 million jobs and shipowners must position themselves to be in the driving seat.

In doing so, he said, shipowners must navigate the complexities of a rapidly evolving landscape and surmount the multifaceted issues plaguing shipping, especially – ship acquisition and access to cargo.

Read also: How to unlock blue economy potential Akinola

“Harnessing the Blue Economy could be a game changer for this nation and ship owners must be at the heart of this drive for economic growth,” he said.

According to him, the new executives have resolved to build on the successes and remain dedicated to advancing the mission and vision of the association.

He pledged that his administration would work assiduously to deliver benefits to all members, protect their collective interests, focus on policy advocacy, and constructively engage the relevant government agencies on policy formulation and implementation as it affects the shipping sector and indigenous ship owners.

Eja however added that his execos have set the ball rolling with several strategic engagements with critical industry stakeholders including the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, top management of both the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) among others.

Earlier, Hassan Bello, chairman of the inauguration ceremony, said Nigeria has been missing in action, which is why foreigners have been dominating the nation’s shipping business.

He said there is a need for effective participation of Nigerians in international trade and SOAN needs to be deliberate in its efforts to take the nation out of the doldrums.

Bello said Nigeria could earn up to $9.1 billion annually from freights, all of which currently goes to foreign companies.

“Imagine what we could do as an economy with $9.1 billion. We can earn up to $5.4 billion as a shipping contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and of course, the government would earn up to $1.6 billion annually. it’s an enormous task which would require the government’s support, but I will advise SOAN not to wait for the government,” Bello said.

According to him, Nigeria is faced with negative indices all the time ranging from high inflation, unemployment, insecurity, energy crisis, and declining manufacturing and export because the country operates a mono-economy that is dependent on the export of crude oil.

He said the shipowners’ event is significant because it is an illumination to drive away the darkness that has engulfed Nigeria.

Also speaking, Greg Ogbeifun, pioneer president of SOAN, said the government has done well to create the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, and is left for the private sector to create the platform to actualise the vision.

Read also: Shippers Council to sensitise MSMEs in South -East on the potentials of ACFTA

He called on SOAN to look at how to trade in the global shipping space by removing barriers that limit Nigerian shipowners to trading only on Cabotage, and coastal upstream oil and gas.

He urged the association to be in the vanguard of engagement of stakeholders and sensitisation of government to help them break the jinx.

Members of the newly inaugurated executives include Sonny Eja, president; Louis Ekere, first vice president; Gbolahan Shaba, second vice president, and Babalola Adefarati, financial secretary/treasurer.

Others include Iroghama Ogbeifun, chairman of the technical committee; Bem Ibrahim Garba, chairman training and capacity building committee; Emmanuel Okene, chairman of the finance and membership committee, and Bassey Adie, chairman of the ethics and privileges committee.