By Steve Agbota
Chairman Integrated Oil and Gas Ltd., retired Navy Capt., Emmanuel Iheanacho, has said that Nigeria needs to become a producer of maritime services rather than remain a consumer.
Iheanacho who states this at the Maritime and Offshore Award (The OMIS) held in commemoration of the 2022 World Maritime Day in Lagos, said that if Nigeria don’t have its own vessels, then outsiders can come in and say that the much they know about Nigerian trade is piracy and this opens Nigeria as a nation to exploitation. “We should look at measures to ensure that all of the things we are missing are in place, and this will help us become producers rather than consumers of maritime services,” he said.
Iheanacho, who received the OMIS Lifetime Achievement award added that Nigeria cannot continue to be a nation that consumes services produced elsewhere.
He said the country had able bodied people, intellectuals and other resources to buy infrastructure for producing oil and shipping services.
“We should have people at the policy level that should be thinking about these strategies and tell us how to go about it, so that we will balance consumption with production.
“On the consumption side, yes we are using maritime services to the fullest, but we should be able to add value to the economy output by being able to produce maritime services,” he said.
Also speaking, Dr Ify Akerele, former Director General, Nigerian Chamber of Shipping, said the Nigerian maritime sector is not where it should be despite making progress.
“Awareness is getting out and that is why we are here today. This is a high class selective award, separating the boys from the men, the chaff from the wheat.
“I am one of the judges and I saw the criteria, it was tough. A lot of people pride themselves as maritime operators but they really don’t meet the criteria.
But looking at the nominees, I will tell you that we have come a long way,” she said.
According to Akerele, indigenisation of the sector was of essence, and required patriotism as well as professional.
She said the country had professionals but that most of them worked abroad, hence there was need to open up the shores so that they could come back.
Earlier, Mr Femi Da-Silva, Coordinator of OMIS, said all winners deserved their awards as the most qualified entries were picked based on set criteria.