Story by Dili Utomi.
The setting was the main banquet hall of the Sheraton hotel in Ikeja where the Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria (AMJON) had its annual conference and awards which was titled: Maximizing Nigeria’s Blue Economy Through Automation. There were various papers presented by different government agencies and businesses, the president of AMJON Paul Ogbokiri read the opening speech and detailed the desire of the Association to continue to diligently inform the public about events in the maritime sector as well as awarding exemplary indivuduals who go beyond the call of duty to make the society better.
In her paper presentation, the Director of Ships and Ports Operations of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Mrs. Omotade Faboyede who represented the Chairman of the Agency said that “Drug abuse can make the individual and society to dwell in insecurity” she added that “If the market is not available, it will be difficult to have the buyers of illegal substances”. Mrs. Faboyede urged that the maritime journalists be included in the war against drug trafficking and also said that for the society to succeed in the war “All perpetrators of the nefarious activity of drug trafficking must be arrested, all the enforcement and prosecuting personnel must be properly trained and that the legal system must be strengthened to be able to deter persons from engaging in the illegal trade of drug trafficking.
The representative of the managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Mrs. Yemisi Oyinlola who is the general manager, corporate and starategic communication of the establishment said that “The blue economy project is set up to address the concerns of countries in the coastal areas in the area of tackling their economic problems. Nigeria with about 853 km of coastline has been declared the poverty capital of the world inspite of her potentials”. She added that even though ships are becoming bigger, there is that urge for the reduction in carbon footprints. She insisted that there is a huge potential in the utilization of gas and that the country should tap into this and that she should also tap into the use of solar powered machines as they are becoming more popular. The GM added that the NPA has kick-started the Port community system to position the Port as a competitive system in order to foster greater economic activities.
The acting president of the Association of Nigerian Licenced Clearing Agents, Dr. Kayode Farinto who represented his president now on study leave noted that he is delighted to be at the epoch making conference. Dr. Farinto warned that “The critical thinking and analytical minds of the journalists will be lost if they can only rely on press releases and so research and application as well as fact finding should be sought by the journalists in order for them to continue to play the role of the watchdog of the society”.
Dr. Farinto further advised that the journalists have the moral duty to continue to be objective and that they should always try to retract any publication that is found to have been wrong information that has been disseminated.
In a paper presented on behalf of the managing director of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), the general manager marine services of the Authority, James Ororo said that “28 out of the 36 States of Nigeria have River Channels that can be turned into great transport and economic powers”. He enthused that a lot of these channels can be navigable for the movement of passengers, goods and services. He also added that “In so many other countries, the potentials in Inland Waterways are fully maximised and these bring down the costs of goods and services. If we develop our Inland Waterways, a lot of jobs will be created, shipyards, tank farms, hospitality industries etc will spring up”. It is generally said that research has shown that it is more cost effective to transport things through the waterways than rail or road. The GM concluded that NIWA always tries to create awareness and sensitisation on the safe ways to use the inland waterways and that they also try to invite stakeholders to partner in the dredging the waterways for better management and navigation.
The representative of Emmanuel Jime, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr. Sam Ani in his presentation said that “Technology has brought ease with the way the Ports are operated today. Digitalisation offers the Ports the effecient means of doing business”. He admonished that majority of cargoes have been diverted to other Ports along the West African coast as a result of underperformance and inefficiency of the Nigerian Ports. Mr. Ani added that as at 2020 the level of compliance of digitalisation by terminal operators was less than 50%, but that after covid-19, the Council made sure that this changed and that a lot of the terminals are now fully digitalised and this has facilitated efficiency in Ports Operations. Though, he also added that there are still challenges to overcome as there are still resistance to change and some non-integration of systems into platforms that will engender efficiency.
On his own part, the representative of the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Isichei Osamgbi wishes that all the resolutions reached at this conference will form a critical point of reference the in deep blue project. He said that statistics attest to it that Nigeria has never had this level of Maritime Security that she has been enjoying since the deep blue project was inaugurated in 2020 and he promised that his agency will continue to do their best to engender good atmosphere for better economic evolutions.
The occasion saw the conferenment of awards to various individuals including one given to the hard working young journalist, Roland Ekama.
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