By Steve Agbota
As Nigerians clamour for national fleet, the Federal Government has been urged to drop the idea and empower indigenous ship owners to compete against their foreign counterparts in cabotage trade.
Dr. Edmund Chilaka, who stated this last week at the presentation of his book: “The Rise, Fall and Liquidation of Africa’s Pioneer Carriers: Nigerian National Shipping Line and Black Star Line,” said there is no need for Nigeria to continue in the present quest to establish a national fleet, as the National Fleet Implementation Committee has been charged to do.
Chilaka said instead, the Federal Government should take policy measures to help indigenous ship owners to grow their tonnage and improve their practice of competitive sea trading.
“Conversely, Nigeria belongs to the patently capitalist orientation of national life. In this type of societies, state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are characterised by bureaucratic tendencies and in the Third World countries; these are compounded by corruption, enthnoreligious nepotism, ineptitude and mismanagement of public assets. On the other hand, private sector enterprises tend to succeed based on the profit motive.
“This can be seen in the successful enterprises built by Nigeria’s rich industrialists and traders, whether you talk of the Dangotes, the Madukas, or the Adenugas and countless others. The transportation and maritime shipping sector do not lack these men and women,” he argued.
However, he said what the Federal Government needs to do now is to quickly make the following policies: “implement the cargo reservation provisions in the NIMASA and Cabotage laws, whereby federal and state governments’ cargoes are reserved for pre-qualified indigenous shipping lines.