Shipowners, NNPCL’s ‘Pooling Model’ for Vessel Acquisition is a Recipe for Chaos—-Capt Iheanacho

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Capt Emmanuel Iheanacho

…Laments Influx of Fake Seafarers, Abuse of Uniforms

By DAPO OLAWUNI

Frontline master mariner and former Minister of Interior, Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho has warned that the pooling funding model for ship acquisition being explored by the Indigenous ship owners and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) is a recipe for disaster and chaos.

Recall that at a recent meeting between officials of the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping (NCS) and the Managing Director of NNPCL Shipping, Panos Gliatis in Lagos, the NNPCL declared intentions to explore a pooling funding model to spread the financial burden of acquiring ships.

Gliatis suggested a pooling system is a viable approach for Nigerian shipowners to surmount the funding challenges of vessel acquisition.
He said the non-availability of contracts for ship-owners has been a recurring challenge that needs to be addressed.

Gliatis said the system would ensure the availability of Nigerian vessels in the next few years as it guarantees impartiality, transparency and equal sharing of earnings.

However, while fielding questions from press men on the sidelines of Day of Tribute for Late Engr Olu Akinsoji in Lagos last week, Capt Iheanacho said there would be a lot of problems managing the relationship between the people who are putting their money into the ship acquisition.

“If you say shipowners pooling their resources, it could mean that each of them should bring their individual ships. But if you want to say that a ship costs N100 and you are asking everybody to contribute N10, it would be nearly impossible to manage.

“We have tried it before and it just didn’t work. There are basic requirements for people who want to own ships, you must understand ship management, you must understand the processes you have to go through to be able to get resources to buy a ship.

“If you don’t go through these sources, don’t ask the NIMASA to show you how to do it, you are supposed to bring it to the table by yourself.

“There is no theory that I know that tells you that pooling resources is better than somebody who has all these resources within him. A single Shipowner has engineers, deck officers, catering officers and a whole lot, he is a one self contained unit. But if you are now advocating a situation where different people bring all these resources, it is a recipe for absolute Chaos” he warned.

On Fake Seafarers, Abuse of Uniforms

Capt Iheanacho also observed the predominance of fake seafarers trying to join the profession through the back door.

Speaking, he said “In so many conferences you go to, you see people who want to show that they want to be part of the maritime industry so they make uniforms for themselves, however, that’s not the way.

“There is a way that you would rise if you want to be an officer in the industry, there is a proper string that you have to follow in terms of the studies, there is what we call Standard of Watch Keeping and Certification which is issued by the IMO.

“If you abide by all these things, then you will be a proper officer and then we would get to a stage where we can export these labour to a lot of people who needs them.

“The people who own ships are not fools, if you are wearing these uniforms around all the time, you think they are going to come around and accept these people as seafarers? They know that these guys have not been to school, they know that they haven’t followed the approved channel.

“The partway to becoming a first class seafarer is very well known, if you notice, I talked about my first Captain that I knew about 53years ago, that is the common thing that holds us, he knows the quality that I hold, and i also know where he is coming from.

While speaking on what aspiring seafarers can emulate in the ageing ones, the Master Mariner said “You have to be committed to your profession, you cannot be an haphazard professional. If you want to be an engineer, you have to start up as a junior engineer, you have to attend institutions, you have to try and achieve perfection in everything that you do and stay with it.
If you want to be a deck officer, the part is clearly defined, you have to follow it through”

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