Ship-owner Capt. Iheanacho extols seafarers for sacrifices to sustain global trade despite Covid19 pandemic
Talks of new expectations with Nigeria’s latest efforts in GoG security
Today, Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho, the Chairman/CEO of Integrated Oil & Gas Company Ltd., features on our programme ‘CEOs Talk Business’ as he shares his views on a number of issues in the maritime industry.
As a master mariner and shipowner, Capt. Iheanacho gives kudos to seafarers on the special occasion of the Day of the Seafarer.
He recognises that even in the face of the Covid19 pandemic that hit the world to a standstill, seafarers continued on their job to sustain the movement of essential supplies across the world, even when they faced very many difficulties of public health protocols.
Speaking about the ‘Day of the Seafarer,’ Iheanacho says “It is a day for us to reflect upon the sacrifices that seafarers make in ensuring that ships run, because without ships, maritime commerce and world economy would adversely be impacted. So, for those who dedicate their lives to operating the ships, to make sure that goods are delivered, to make sure that raw materials are imported, we really have to applaud them.
“We also recognise the impact of the Covid19 pandemic on the lives of seafarers, because seafarers live their lives on the go; they are constantly moving in ships. When they are not moving in ships they are packing their bags and transferring from one port to another. So, when you have a pandemic which no one can say that they have prior experience of and they cannot tell you “this is how we dared to treat it the last time” then it creates huge challenges in terms of what people would do.”
He shares his views about the recent investments done by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in acquisition of ships, helicopters and manpower training and other processes in readiness to combat insecurity in the maritime domain.
He expresses hope that a better protected Gulf of Guinea, by reason of Nigeria’s efforts, would save Nigeria and Nigerians the burden of being charged ‘war premium’ and then people will have greater confidence in being able to send their ships over here.
He says: “And one benefit which we expect that we will get is the issue of the ‘war premium’ because it is really very controversial. People have asked in the past if the war premium is really worth it or if this is really a rouse to charge Nigeria and Nigerian consumers more money than they should be paying for the goods that they are importing or exporting. So, once we have made this investment, we can now say that “you did declare Nigeria a war-like area, we have invested in aircrafts, we have invested in ships, we have invested in helicopters, we have invested in personnel and processes.
“We hope that this will make it safer for trading vessels to come in and out of Nigerian waters and for that reason there is absolutely no need for you to continue to charge this war premium, because in the final analysis, whatever charges are imposed would be borne by the consumer of the goods, the cost will not stay with the interim transporter, it goes to the person who eventually takes delivery of the goods because you will have to tally all the costs that you have incurred and pass it on to the person who consumes the goods.”
He gives great insights on other issues including what he thinks was wrong with the management system of the defunct Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL), the lessons that should have been learned and what a National Fleet should really mean.
The captain looks at how best to network to ensure that cadets trained at the nation’s premier maritime academy in Oron Akwa Ibom, get access to sea time and honoured with job opportunities in the industry where they have been prepared to serve.
Importantly too, Iheanacho shares with us on the kind of resilience that is needed to continue with such taxing project as the building of a modular refinery, which his company is undertaking.