Akinsoji’s thoughts: NNSL should have been privatised, not liquidated
What is the fear in the Nigerian Government establishing a national fleet that is completely driven by the private sector?
My interpretation is that the fleet will not be managed by government or its entity but by the private investors. It will serve as a pilot entity that has successfully galvanized an environment conducive for its sustainable operations/existence.
If you like, consider establishing a national fleet as an instrument and mechanism that will remove the barriers and bridge gaps in the ship owning by Nigerians and for motivating investors in the sub sector of our economy.
Why is Dangote or Flour Mills, owners of enormous cargo not owning ships and flying Nigerian flag? The simple answer is that the environment is hostile to such investment.
The level of understanding of almost all our authorities concerning the governance of the entities for ship owning and operations is very poor. It has been very poor and still remains poor and likely to remain poor for a very long time from all indications.
The liquidation of NNSL lacks wisdom. It was a decision taken by those who did not have cognate competency and did not consult sufficiently enough for that decision. All the reasons related to deficit in trading, management and lack of commitment.
There was an invisible parallel but very important reason for the establishment of the company which was not considered and that is Training and Human Capacity Building. We cannot appreciate the economic loss due to capacity deficit in providing services in shipping trade because we lack the understanding and conceited.
As for NNSL, the purposely-built training ships which were relatively in good condition were sold during the liquidation. As the Administrator of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron at that time, I was able to convince the Ministry of transport to assist in the successful training of the Nigerian cadets and seafarers by a training ship.
The Ministry then decided to buy back one of those training ships. We renamed the vessel MV Trainer through the Ministry. However we were not in charge of her management or even placement of the cadets.
The crux of the matter is that NNSL should not have been liquidated for the good reason of cadet training and human capacity development of our nation, rather it should have been privatised, sold to the public because the proceeds of the assets of the company at liquidation was in excess of it’s total indebtedness.
We must learn from the NNSL case not to throw away the baby with the bathwater because the baby is crying.
I only hope that all the entities identified as authorities to create conducive environment for investors to be attracted into owning ships that will carry our fair share of the cargo we generate into the world market will learn and do the right things in the interest of our nation.
As for me, it is a shame that my country does not carry and earn freight from even 10 per cent of the cargo we generate into the world market and fly our national flag on the ocean of the world.
Suffice to say that I was the chairman of the Ministerial Committee on the modalities for the establishment of National Fleet. We submitted our report about a couple of years ago.
Marine Engineer Olu Akinsoji was one time a Director General, Government Inspector of Ships. He was a Sole Administrator of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, and the Pioneer Alternate Representative of Nigeria at the IMO.