By virtue of their statutory positions in the Nigerian maritime industry and events of 2021, some institutions and persons are most likely going to make headlines in 2022.

Welcome to the year 2022, and enjoy our annual offering “People And Places To Watch”. It is our peep into the maritime industry for the year. Not in any particular order, our Assistant Editor; Oluyinka Onigbinde, who put this together did consider some indicators before arriving at these picks.

PEOPLE & PLACES

Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC)

Following the exit of Mr Hassan Bello, immediate past Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers Council and the appointment of Hon. Emmanuel Jime as the new helmsman in June last year, it is expected that all eyes would be on his successor.

Not only will maritime industry stakeholders expect that the new man will continue from where Bello stopped to take the council to the next heights, his pedigree also raises the bar of expectations.

Jime, prior to his new appointment had been Managing Director at the Nigeria Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA), a two-term member of the House of Representatives representing Makurdi/Guma Federal constituency in Benue State between 2007 and 2015, and Speaker of the State House of Assembly from 1992 to 1993.

He comes in, not as a green horn. Luckily, towards the end of last year, he unfolded his agenda for the Council, top of which was the reintroduction of the controversial Cargo Tracking Note, flagging-off of the operations of at least four Inland Dry Ports and at least two Vehicle Transit Areas. He has also assured that the Nigerian Shippers Council under his watch is poised to create fully equipped Border Information Centres. Similarly, he promised to resuscitate the Cargo Defence Fund and make it operational within one year, upgrade the Port Service Support Portal (PSSP) to make it more robust, as well as establish Export Desk at designated loading centres for export.

Perhaps, the most important yardstick with which the new Shippers Council CEO would be measured is the assurance he gave concerning the National Transport Commission (NTC) whose birth was truncated some time ago, when President Muhammadu Buhari refused assent to the Bill. Hon Jime has promised that the NTC will become a reality within his four years as the CEO of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council.

Certainly, these promises will make the NSC and its CEO a place of interest in 2022. This is in addition to issues regarding shipping charges as well as shipping companies’ impunity.

Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA)

Because of its statutory responsibilities as the landlord of the port and the master stevedore, NPA is always an agency of interest.

However, the removal of its former Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman last year, following serial allegations and the appointment of the Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Bello Mohammed Koko as the acting Managing Director, makes NPA a centre of attention in 2022.

Yes, the acting MD within the short time has proven that he has the capacity to take the agency to the next level, but industry watchers will eagerly look up to the NPA MD to ease the chaotic traffic on the approach to Tin Can port.

Certainly, Mohammed Bello Koko will be appraised more in 2022 based on his ability to finally erase the pain called Apapa traffic. One other issue which may dominate discussions about the NPA in 2022 is the enforcement of the directive on ownership and operation of container holding bays by shipping companies.

Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA)

Following Nigeria’s disgraceful outing at the IMO elections in December last year and the continuous threat of piracy within Nigeria’s territorial waters and the Gulf of Guinea, it may be apt to surmise that NIMASA ended 2022 on a poor note.

These twin issues and how NIMASA will rise up to them will determine how well the agency will fair in 2022. If NIMASA chooses to again re-assure that all is well and that it was on top of the game, it will rekindle negative attention and reaction from stakeholders.

Secondly, how NIMASA moves on after the loss at the IMO, will mean a lot in 2022. Rather than brood over the loss, the agency should look inward and be more alive to its responsibilities.

There is no gainsaying that maritime stakeholders will watch keenly to see how the agency will fare this year, especially with the knocks that greeted the IMO loss.

Apart from piracy and the IMO, one other issue that will still dominate the NIMASA agenda is the domineering presence of foreign flagged ships and foreign navies on our waters. This is despite the launch of the Deep Blue Assets last year.

Beyond the issue of piracy, the plethora of unfulfilled promises both of 2021 and previous years will draw attention to NIMASA this year.

One of such promises for which the agency would be held accountable is the floating dock. Recall that the Director General NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh had in 2021 and in the previous year promised that the water craft would be put to use in conjunction with NPA. But, 2021 ended with the promise yet unfulfilled.

Finally, industry stakeholders and the maritime media will observe keenly the outcome of the present back and forth over the controversial Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF). There is a likelihood of a bigger mess unfolding regarding the CVFF. All eyes on NIMASA; the collector and supposed warehouse of the Fund.

Council For the Regulations Of Freight Forwarding In Nigeria (CRFFN)

In 2021, the Minister of Transportation; Mr Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi had described CRFFN as the most problematic agency under the transportation ministry. This isn’t for no reason.

Year-on-year, especially in the last couple of years, the CRFFN has been on the radar, albeit for the wrong reasons. The wrong reasons are all well-known.

But, last year, two issues dominated the landscape as far as the CRFFN is concerned. They are: Tenure elongation of members of the governing council, and the election of new members that were not held. The second is the commencement of collection of the controversial Practitioner Operating Fee (POF).

In 2022, the CRFFN will be on the radar as stakeholders look forward to the much-delayed elections of new members of the governing council.

The issue of the indigenous and self-serving 6-6-1-1-1 seat-sharing formula being championed by one of the registered freight forwarding associations; NAGAFF. Even though he was under pressure, 2021 ended and the Minister did not acquiesce.

After many years of delay, the CRFFN, in 2021 began the collection of POF. This feat must be attributed to the doggedness of its Registrar/ CEO; Mr Samuel Nwakohu who fought all odds to kick-start the collection.

However, the CRFFN should not go to sleep, thinking that the battle of POF collection has been won. There is a thin connect between the agitation for membership of the governing council of the CRFFN and the revenue accruable from the POF. And this is why the CRFFN will need to watch it in 2022.

Suffice it to stress however that the twin issues of POF and the governing council elections are going to haunt the CRFFN throughout 2022.

Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA)

As the crisis in the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) assumes a life of its own, there are now two claimants to the chairmanship of the association’s BoT. There are also two chairmen in some chapters and several court cases against the current National Executive Committee (NECOM) of the association.

Recall that, at the December 2020 AGM held in Owerri (Imo State), it was agreed that the NECOM should be given one term of five years as against four years which has been the tradition. The Owerri constitutional amendment has further widened the gulf between the gladiators.

These are enough pointers to the fact that the association will still enjoy negative attention in 2022.

The fact is that, for as many years as the current national executives have been in charge, ANLCA has known no peace. So without being tagged a messenger of doom and an incurable pessimist, we don’t see an end in the immediate horizon.

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