Maritime Reforms: What Will Buhari Tell Commonwealth In London?

President Buhari


By Izuchukwu Ozoemena


As Nigeria’s highest political echelon and top business leaders join their counterparts from the Commonwealth and other parts of the world in the current edition of the Commonwealth Heads of Government and Missions (CHOGM) and the Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) holding in London, what scorecard is President Muhammadu Buhari going to present on his achievements, especially in the shipping sector?

This is the major concern of a stakeholder over President Buhari’s trip to London and preparations by Nigeria’s business moguls to attend the global event which takes place once in three years.

A ship owner and executive member of the Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA) condemned the Buhari administration for failing to reposition the shipping in the last three years.

“What is Buhari going to tell the world about the declining fortunes in Nigeria’s maritime sector,” the shipping operator who preferred anonymity queried?

He condemned what he referred to as the ‘ding-dong’ game being played with the issue of a national fleet and the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF), blaming the Buhari administration for frustrating and rendering ship owners jobless by refusing to disburse the CVFF accruals to empower them for the benefit of the industry and the economy.

“What happened to the recommendations of the presidential committee on the national fleet? For how long will it be in the dustbin?  What are reasons for keeping the good recommendations away from public domain? Are there Nigerian factors working against the implementation of the recommendations?”

He tasked Buhari to explain to the international community reasons a national fleet cannot be set up in Nigeria. He also tasked the President to tell the world his reasons for refusing to rehabilitate ports access roads when he is all over campaigning for ease of doing business in the ports.

Nigeria is set to make a big show at the 2018 CBF, an integral part of the CHOGM which convenes in London, England mid-April for business leaders, industry experts and senior government representatives from the Commonwealth of Nations to rub minds on economic and business issues affecting their respective countries in 2018 and beyond.

Organized by the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC), and the UK Government in partnership with the City of London, this top-level business can be attended through accredited invitation only.

In her capacity as a foremost ship owners’ group in the entire Commonwealth, the Ship Owners’ Association of Nigeria, (SOAN), is to lead a delegation of business leaders from the Nigerian shipping community to support the country’s participation at the event. SOAN is also to nominate 25 top level Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) or Chairs expected to be in attendance.

“We would also like SOAN to play a key role in the Maritime Session at CBF which is to take place on the 17th of April at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre,” the CWEIC invitation stated.

Apart from President Buhari and top government functionaries, industry experts and Nigerian economic leaders to feature at the CBF 2018 include the Chairman of Starz Group and SOAN President, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun; the Chairman, Zenith Bank, Jim Ovia; the former Minister of Finance and Chair, Africa Risk Capacity, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala; and the CEO, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Olusegun Awolowo.

Others include the Managing Director of the LADOL, Dr. Amy Jadesimi; the Chairman, Next International Limited, Mr. Peter Obi; the CEO, L.A.T Cleveson Group Ltd, Sam Okwulehie; the Group Managing Director, Pan-African Capital Holdings Limited, Chris Oshiafi and the Vice President, Famfa Oil, Folorunso Alakija.

Also among those expected to be at the session are Lawrence Chike  Achigbu, the Group CEO, Chimons Gas, as well as the Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment, Lagos State, Babatunde Durosinmi-Etti.