By DAPO OLAWUNI
It was a night glitz and glamour at the prestigious Oriental Hotel in Lagos at the weekend, the creme creme in the Nigerian Maritime Sector gathered to celebrate the inaugural edition of the Maritime and Offshore Award (The OMIS)
The Award was held in commemoration of the 2022 World Maritime Day on Saturday in Lagos. The World Maritime Day is celebrated globally on 29th of September.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, frontline master mariner and
Chairman Integrated Oil and Gas Ltd., Capt., Emmanuel Ihenacho, says Nigeria needs to become a producer of maritime services rather than remain a consumer.
“If we don’t have our own vessels, then outsiders can come in and say that the much they know about Nigerian trade is piracy. And this opens us 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.
Ihenacho, who received the OMIS Lifetime Achievement award added that Nigeria could not continue to be a nation that consumed 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, marshal all these resources so that we will equalise the 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 economy output by being able to produce maritime services,” he said.
Also, Dr Ify Akerele, former Director General, Nigerian Chamber of Shipping, says the Nigerian maritime sector was not where it should be but was 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.
Akerele pointed out that 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.
Also speaking, the Vice Chairman of ENL Consortium and Chairperson of the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) Princess Vicky Haastrup commended the OMIS Awards, saying that it is an encouragement to contribute more towards the maritime industry.
Princess Haastrup was awarded as the the “Most Outstanding Woman of the Year 2022”
“It gives you the encouragement to want to do better, it shows that you are recognized for your contributiona to the maritime industry. I as a person in the maritime industry, God has sent me to make a mark, and for being recognized today as the most outstanding woman of the year, it gives me great joy. I would call it an encouragement to do better than I am doing.
The organizers have done credibly well, this being the maiden edition of the OMIS Awards, the standard is really high, I didn’t expect that it would be like this. It shows that the organizers meant well and the award is going places, it is already recognized.
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.
A delighted Da-silva stated that the inaugural edition of the OMIS award shows that the maritime industry appreciates excellence, adding that the 2023 edition would be much bigger.
“This is an introductory edition, next year is going to be better, bigger than this, and it is going to be Nigeria to the world” he said