Wanted: Tipping Point Leadership
Indigenous shipping is in shambles. I have often heard operators lament government neglect. In their opinion, government is the answer to all the problems they are facing. They want government patronage. They want bail out from government.
All attention has shifted to the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF). They make it look as if CVFF will solve all the problems they encounter in their daily operation, but I say nay.
The CVFF will provide fund for only a handful of ship owners to acquire vessels but if those vessels are not meaningfully engaged, it will be a matter of time before the owners run into turbulence again.
CVFF is not the solution to the problems of indigenous ship owners. The solution that will endure is a paradigm shift; a total change in the business model of Nigerian ship owners. I draw my argument from the following quotes:
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” ? Albert Einstein
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” ? Leo Tolstoy
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” ? Barack ObamaThe change Nigerian ship owners are looking for is within them. It must start with them. It must start with the quest for a viable business model rather than an unbridled reliance on government support.
In April this year at a retreat for maritime journalists in Abuja, I talked about the Tipping Point. I stated that the maritime industry was at the threshold. It is still at the threshold. It is at the threshold of a dazzling boom. That boom will not materialise without a revolution of the mind.
Palliatives and verbal pontification have hardly created the relief and succour desired by Nigerian ship owners.
I believe our operators have become too complacent. I believe something is missing and this is the right time to get serious about shipping business. The true practitioners have been too disparate in their approach. Too many policy initiatives have been left with the political elite and pseudo-technocrats while they stand aloof or at best occupy themselves with mundane rhetoric.
It is time our ship owners rise above the quest for bread and butter. As critical stakeholders in the Nigerian economy, our ship owners must make an impact, not just in the maritime industry but meaningful impact in the soul of our society. This is the tipping point I talked about earlier.
As we think, so we become. The time to change our thinking about society vis-à-vis our responsibility has come. Our ship owners must transcend the present realm of helplessness pervading their pursuits.
Again, permit me to draw Biblical anecdotes;
• We were told that God created Eve from the ribs of Adam; the Whiteman then reviewed his thinking and made a breakthrough in cloning through genetic engineering;
• We were told that a whale swallowed Jonah for three days and vomited him at Nineveh; then the Whiteman changed his thinking and made a breakthrough with submarines;
• We were informed that Elijah was drawn into heaven through a chariot of fire; the Whiteman’s vision affected his thinking and the rocket was made to take man into space.
• We were informed that Moses stood by the Red Sea and it parted, the Whiteman ensured through stretched thinking that glass doors and elevator doors could open on their own with the mere touch of a button.
These cases testify of the boundless stretch a people can make to lift themselves out of obscurity by the right paradigm or mindset.
Globalization, with all its attractions and trappings, especially in this internet age, will swallow our ship owners, except they change the way they think in pursuit of mundane attractions.
Our ship owners must take the lead and urgently design an agenda for visible impact in the maritime industry. They must revisit their strategies.
Whatever change we desire to see in the maritime industry and in our lives must start with us.