Francis Omotosho (Maritime Expert)
It is very difficult to revive the Nigerian national fleet in the maritime sector because the Federal Government, I mean the Presidency does not have confidence and trust; in the ways and manners that all the government agencies in the maritime industry have been playing their roles in regulations, standardization of shipping practices, and also the empowerment of the shipping practitioners in Nigeria.
There is no transparency and sincerity of heart in developing and empowering the shipping practitioners who are practically the ones to man the national fleet.
Tell me how you think that government would like to invest in the business by buying national carriers to be manned by same ingenious shipping practitioners.
Chris Iwara (Image Maker, Air Peace Airlines)
The world has moved beyond government involvement in business. Basically, there is a huge challenge of proper financing. Too many vital needs compete for lean public funds. This situation makes it a huge challenge to fund a project like national carrier, which requires a very heavy capital outlay. The modern trend is for government to create the needed atmosphere for the private sector to take up such a project. It is too risky for government to directly get involved. Corruption and gross mismanagement will rubbish even the best of intentions in the connection of a national carrier. Let us not deceive ourselves by mouthing the assurance that things will be different this time.
Sampson Chima (Registrar, NIS)
I believe Federal Government is not ready yet, if they are, they would put all the mechanism in place to kick off. Secondly, it should not be managed by the government or else it will be politicized. It should be completely private sector driven but the federal government should provide the enabling environment just like the communication sector. Part of the enabling environment is to further create a level playing ground for balance of trade by encouraging local production in commercial quantity for export. However, it is one thing to establish a National Carrier and it is another thing to generate cargo for export viz-as-viz import. A ship without cargo is useless because ship is a derived demand so she cannot survive on her own. The onus is on the Federal Government.
Olaitan Williams (Chief Executive Officer, VOW Ventures)
Too many politics is involved in Nigeria national fleet, the last time the ship acquisition money was disbursed to shipowners the likes of Bamanga Tukur and others collected the funds, but they never bought a ship, this is why it is difficult for NIMASA to disburse with the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) although, I don't see why they should not, they'll only put stricter measures in place, but you know the Nigerian factor, some people are somewhere taking the interest as this fund sits in the bank.
Muda Yusuf (DG, LCCI)
It is a question of capacity I think, where is the funding? I think we are supposed to have a shipping fund somewhere but I am not sure anybody has been able to access it. So, it is a question of capacity and also a question of patronage. If you have a policy, you can say that this cargo or shipment that is coming to Nigeria or going out , you have to give it to Nigerian owned shipping companies, that will help them to build their capacity. Some of these ships you don’t even have to own them if you have a business you can have access to them, just like what they do in some other countries, trade must be there. So we need to support our own people to generate businesses for them.
Rev Jonathan Nicole (President, SALS)
I think we have managerial problems in this country, it is not like we cannot get a fleet, but the level of corruption is beyond this planet, it is going to the other planet and this is why it will be very difficult for us to have Nigerian fleet because we don’t have good managers. The level of corruption is too much, so we need the fleet to be privately driven or it’s going to be partly government and partly private. We have another problem that we feel probably will threaten our fleet, if international bodies are coming out to re-introduce that conference line which means a group of shipping lines will form one company and buy a meager vessel that can convey 4,000-5,000 containers and this vessel will be consuming less fuel and that is what they will need other countries to acquire. So if you quickly rush into buying vessels now, in the next 5-10 years, our vessel will run into serious problems because there are so many modern vessels that will come in that we might not be able to acquire at that particular time.
Dr Eugene Nweke (Ex-President, NAGAFF)
There is no difficulty if insiders, talking about government officials and their political interests are eradicated. There is no difficulty if we legislatively ascend to a national transport policy, especially the national shipping development policy to drive ship building and fleet development.
It is not difficult, if holistic shipping reforms are genuinely revisited. Such reform will target among others, the Navy, etc. It is not difficult, if shipping administrators are fair and firm to administer the CVFF meritoriously and judiciously. Once, we consider National shipping transport development as a national priority in place of politicking, it settles it.
Mr. John Egesi (Ex-DG, NMA )
Frankly speaking, there is nothing like national fleet, it must be able to make profit, therefore it has to go in connection with other people, other shipping lines. The whole idea about shipping is not about Nigeria shipping line, it is about Nigeria shipping Dollars that is the whole idea. We are a very fake people; we don’t know what we want. Any country can get a shipping line because it is all about recruiting the right people and making profit.