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Nigeria shuns world’s celebration on industry’s day

By Sulaimon Salau   |   05 October 2016   |   3:45 am

This year’s World Maritime Day has come and gone without Nigeria’s footprint in the colourful events that marked the celebration worldwide.

World Maritime Day is an official United Nations day. Every year, it provides an opportunity to focus attention on the importance of shipping and other maritime activities and to emphasise a particular aspect of International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO’s) work.

With the theme: “Shipping is indispensable to the world”, global maritime community celebrated the yearly-dedicated day amid pomp and pageantry.

From Trinidad and Tobago, where celebrations in Port of Spain involved the whole community with ship visits and maritime-themed activities, to the Pacific, where school children in the Cook Islands got the chance to visit a merchant ship. Maritime training institutes, seafarers, shipping companies and organisations as well as, governments from South Africa to Canada shared their #WorldMaritimeDay stories.

A stimulating debate on shipping’s future challenges took place at IMO Headquarters in London, with thousands tuning in worldwide via online participation and hundreds of people submitting their questions to the panel, from Peru to New Zealand.

On social media, hundreds of thousands of people engaged with the theme – Shipping: indispensable to the world.

In Nigeria, it was a calm atmosphere, there was no sign, celebration or official event whatsoever to debate on maritime issues relating to the theme.

Not even the government functionaries like the Ministry of Transport; Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA); Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) deemed it fit to be part of the celebration.

The terminal operators where apparently aware, but it was business as usual at various premises visited by The Guardian on that particular day.

A source in one of the terminals said there is nothing to celebrate. “There are so many problems here in Nigeria that we need to iron out rather than celebrating World Maritime Day. We are aware and we are taking cognizance of that, but the economy does not allow for a merry-making now. It so sad.”

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim in his World Maritime Day message said: “As the World Maritime Day theme for 2016 so rightly acknowledges, shipping is indispensable to the world – and is set to remain central to world economic growth as we make the inevitable transition towards an era of clean and sustainable development.

“This is a message that needs, and deserves, a wider audience. Almost everyone in the world today relies on shipping to some extent – but very few are aware of it,” he said.

Lim further urged all those involved in shipping to take the opportunity to highlight this vital industry, on which so many depend.

United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, also issued a message for World Maritime Day, saying: “The importance of shipping in supporting and sustaining today’s global society makes it indispensable to the world, and to meeting the challenge of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,”

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