Maritime industry stakeholders have expressed mixed feeling over the recent appointment of House of Representative committee chairmen.
Recall that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, named the chairmen and deputy chairmen of the standing committees of the House last week, however some concerned Maritime industry stakeholders have expressed mixed feeling over the appointment of key maritime positions some of which include the chairman House Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration headed by Lynda Ikpeazu, Chairman House Committee on Ports and Harbours headed by Garba Daiti, Chairman House committee on Customs and Excise headed by Yusuf Akila, among others
Some of the stakeholders who spoke with Shipping Position Daily on Friday described the appointment as a welcome development while others expressed disappointment over the Speaker’s choices.
The President Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) said there was nothing wrong in appointing a former Miss Nigeria who does not have a maritime background to chair the House Committee on Maritime Safety.
He advised the new committee to be concerned about the ease of doing business at the port, and focusing on improving the Maritime industry.
“I don’t think there is anything wrong in appointing a former Miss Nigeria or a person who does not have a maritime background to chair the maritime committee, what have we gained from those who have the knowledge. I listen to her during the NIMASA African Day of Sea and Oceans and I believe she and others appointed should have what it takes to move the maritime industry forward”
“They will learn on the job, I believe and it is you and I that will teach them, by the time you begin to ask them critical questions they will make their own research and you will just discovered that in few months, they are already doing better than their predecessors
“For instance, look at the fine job the Managing Director of Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) is doing, she is a woman and she doesn’t have a maritime background, but look at her performance so far, she has even exceeded some of her predecessors and some men in the industry, so it is not about whether you are Miss Nigeria or Miss Oyo, as long as you have the capacity to deliver you will deliver”, he said.
On his part, the Vice Chairman of the National Association of Road Transport Owners (Dry Cargo Section) Alhaji Abdullahi Inuwa opined that having people who do not have Maritime background will only deepen the challenges we have in the industry.
“With the problem we are having in the country, appointing somebody who does not have knowledge of the maritime industry will only make those who are in the cabinet to be manipulative because they know the head does not even have knowledge of what it is all about
“But if we have somebody who have the knowledge of what he is appointed for, this will move the country forward, instead of having a chairman who will not be able to sanction the directors of the agencies under him because he/she doesn’t know anything about it”, he said.
On his part, Barrister Emeka Akabogu also expressed reservations about the appointments. He said “well there is nothing to be surprised about relating to the appointment and I find it interesting that you said perhaps it has some political undertone, of course it is political in nature, these are politicians and without exception every single one of them in the House is a politician, they came to the House not on the strength of their industry background, so that is what has always been.
“In any case, it’s going to be virtually impossible to legislate persons on industry qualifications on the purpose of heading House committee, when the electoral process does not indicate you have to be an industry specialist to become a member of the House.
“It is certain that in the House you will have people who have the relevant qualifications, but if they start putting that into play it may be categorized as an unreasonable law, so I think what is more important is for people who have been appointed in such committees to have the heart of patriotism and quickly work towards the key issues the industry is battling with and then committing themselves towards adding value by the virtue of their position.
“It will be completely unreasonable and hollow to expect that persons with industry qualifications should be appointed to head legislatives committees, rather it will be more reasonable to expect that people with industry qualifications should be appointed to head critical maritime agencies, because in respect of those ones, there is no limitation to the range of persons from which the choice can be made”, he argued.
Barrister Osuala Nwagbara also opines that having people who do not have industry background may not necessarily hamper the growth of the industry.
“I don’t think it is something that you need to have a specialized training for, although is an advantage if you have people who can contribute meaningfully. I think the Chairman’s jobs is to coordinate and move in the right direction, so I think they can run the job”, he said.