Sometimes being a writer totally sucks but then; writing gives one the unique opportunity of serving as the conscience of the society.
Being a professional writer is a strange and wonderful thing - kind of a combination of philosopher and vagrant. It permits experiences that a fortunate few will ever get to have, and many more that would make most 'normal' people wonder why on earth someone would purposefully subject themselves to such emotional torment.
It was in light of this incredible cross-section of joy and despair, inspiration and rage, that I drew up a set of questions to enable the maritime sector analyse the Year 2014.
I am embarking on this exercise because in order to embrace the new, we must release the old. It is said that a trapeze artist cannot swing from one bar to another without letting go. An important part of preparing for the New Year is to review the past year—to release it—and to learn from it.
My questions (and answers) aim to stimulate the thinking of the movers and shakers of the maritime sector. You don't have to agree with my answers though.
Q: What did we accomplish in the maritime sector this year?
Q: What would we have done differently? Why?
A: Everything, because none of our past approach worked!
Q: What key project did we complete?
Q: What were the three most significant events of the outgoing year?
A: Seminar, seminar, seminar
Q: What did we do right?
Q: What were our biggest challenges/roadblocks/difficulties?
Q: How is the maritime sector different this year than last?
A: Roads into the ports are worse off. Nigerian ship owners are worse off. PAAR did not function as promised. Importers/agents still cut corners, as disclosed by their leaders.
Q: For what are we particularly grateful?
A: Ijora bridge did not collapse in the year.
Honestly apart from a few private operators in the industry who raised one's hope of a better tomorrow through their committed investments, everything else points to a gloomy future for our beloved maritime sector. For example, it is two and a half years already since President Goodluck Jonathan hosted a retreat on charting a roadmap for the development of the maritime industry. Several stakeholders enthusiastically attended the retreat with the hope that the sector would finally get a deserving attention from the Federal Government. A Presidential Committee was set up with the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar as Chairman and maritime lawyer, Olisa Agbakoba as Vice Chairman. The committee members worked within their terms of reference and promptly submitted their report to the President. The President, I learnt, referred the report to the Economic Management Team. The EMT made its input and returned the President for implementation but that was the last anyone heard of it. Does this show seriousness in developing the maritime sector?
I will be happy to know your own answers to my questions.