By Stephen Ubanna
Between July and much of November, 2023, the 19-members of the League of Maritime editors, LOME, described in maritime circles as ‘’Association of Veterans’’ have been holding series of meetings to plan for a two-leg LOME , at 25th Celebrations. Asu Beks, the Chairman of the planning Committee who is expected to celebrate his 70th Birthday soon, and his Committee members were said to have been alive to their duties.
This is because, Timothy Okorocha-Paul, described by Beks as ‘’first among equals’’ heading an Association of ‘’deep thinkers and pace setters’’ has been on their neck. He was said to have co-opted some new members into the Committee including Remi-Itie, popular,’’ Mama Maritime’’ as the Co-Chairman, Edie Iroha, Edormie Iroha, Edormie Ovia Emeka Okoroanyawu and one or two others as members of the Committee to strengthen its assignment.
Given that the Association has less than 20 days to go ahead with ‘’the all- important’’ event which is slated for December 7, 2023, may have informed why the first leg of the programme expected to hold in in a new generation hotel, in Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve centre is being pursued with vigour as all hands on deck to ensure that it turns out to be a huge success.
This is because of the calibres of people expected from all walks of life that are coming to grace the occasion that would have the likes of Aliko Dangote, a multi-billionaire and business mogul , whose 650,000b/d, refinery located at Lekki, Lagos and President Dangote Industry as the chairman .
Going by the Statement issued by Francis Uqgwuoke, LOME spokesperson, Adegboyega Oyetola, a former governor of Osun state and now minister of Marine and Blue Economy, carved out from the old old ministry of Transportation would be ‘’the Chief Host’’ because of his strategic position in an event that would be discussing in details the 2023 new Customs Act and its implications to trade and harnessing the country’s potentials in the country’s marine and blue economy.
Okorocha-Paul, the President of LOME, who appears to have taken the Association to another level in the last one year by setting the pace for maritime reportage as veterans had said that he first leg of its 25th anniversary would witness the presentation of papers by experts and Corporate presentations by NCS and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency ,NIMASA, under the Leadership of Bashir Jamoh, OFR, Kaduna state BORN technocrat who was said to have popularised the blue economy model in Nigeria.
The NIMASA Chief Executive Officer, CEO, who was said to have had the opportunity of meeting Gunder Pauli, a professor of Economics and author of Blue Economy : 10 Years, 100 million Innovations and 100 million Jobs, where they had one-on-one discussions on the model and how it can benefit Nigeria as obtained in other maritime nations that have a fully developed blue economy model like China and several countries in Europe including the North American country of the United States, US and United Kingdom, UK, can speak more authoritatively on the economic model.
Going by the Statement issued by the Ugwuoke, the LOME, Image maker, the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA , which has Mohammed Bello-Koko, a one-time banker , who is well-grounded on port operations and his Counterpart in the Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC, are expected to make presentations about their agency efforts in fulling their statutory obligations in the nation’s maritime sector.
Industry stakeholders expects to use he opportunity of the LOME 25th anniversary, which is a two-leg event to get to know more why APM, and other Concessionaires operating at the various seaports are always increasing their service charges to extort Nigerians.
Members of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA , National Council of Government Approved Freight Forwarders , NAGFF , National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, NCMDLCA, and other Associations of Freight Forwarders, Haulage and Logistics who are not happy with Five Star Logistics, and Port Terminal Multi-services Terminal, particular, and the other terminal operators at the Lagos and south eastern ports expects to take advantage of the LOME event to hear from the horses mouth, Oyetola, the minister of marine and blue economy and Akutah Pius Ukeyima, Executive Secretary of NSC, whose agency has the mandate to protect the interest of shippers, actions taken to curtail the excesses of the terminal operators since they increased their service charges last October.
. The worry of Freight Forwarders and Transporters appears to have been the over 300%increase in their service charges which was said to have been blamed on the depreciation of the naira in the country’s official, Investment and Export Widow, I&E as well as the parallel, popular, black foreign exchange market. The increased service charges by the terminal operators, an agent lamented had pushed up the storage charges at the terminals from N15,120.00 , after 14 days to N90,0000, describing it as an unacceptable.
Until his removal from office by President Ahmed Tinubu, Emmanuel Jime, a former Executive Secretary of the maritime agency was said to have held a meeting with the aggrieved Freight Forwarders under the aegis of Association of Concerned Freight Forwarders and Transporters, ACFF&T, to find a lasting solution to the rift between the agents and terminal operators. This is why Industry stakeholders, particular, the Freight Forwarders are optimistic the policy makers will take advantage of the LOME 25th two-leg anniversary to open up on steps taken so far to stop the exploitation of Nigerians by the terminal operators.
The high point of the of the LOME event, according to Okorocha-Paul, the President, would be to honour 16 Industry stakeholders, including Mrs. Magadalene Ajani, , regarded as the Iron Lady by stakeholders and Mrs. Josephine Moltok,a retired General Manager, Corporate Communications , NPA, ranked as one of the best that had occupied the office over the years and some Corporate Organisations for their contributions to the growth of the nation’s maritime industry and anti-smuggling operations that had somewhat curtailed the activities of the economic saboteurs over the last three years.
Many believe that the renewed Customs anti-smuggling war embarked upon by Adeniyi, MFR, the new Customs helmsman had led to the tightened up security at the nation’s Land border areas with Benin Republic, Niger and the Central African country of Cameroun and Chad in the Lake Tchad region over the last five months as Contraband and VIP Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popular, petrol smugglers, remain under close check.