The Doyen of the Nigerian Maritime industry, Chief Adebayo Babatunde Sarumi has lauded the leadership of the
Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), stressing that the group, in a spate of two years, has achieved a feat that eluded the country for over three decades.
“They have done Nigeria proud and I am indeed very Proud of them”, indicated the Ibadan High Chief, who added
that he was more than happy to note that a thorny and derogatory label of ‘surrogates’ which Nigeria had been battling for some 35 to 40 years, was technically and prudently being removed by “a group that came together and is
called Ship Owners Association of Nigeria”, under two years.
The SOAN actually came together, liaise rather than fight the Government or its parastatals, to harness the nation’s strength as it lays solid foundation for Nigeria to carry it’s crude, as Ship Owners.
“And that is why I become emotional, as I am thinking: Is it going to happen in my own lifetime?
I thank God that it is happening in my own lifetime; and I thank God that the battle concerning the NNPC is being won; and I am happy that the IOCs and all their major contractors are beginning to see the need to use the
Nigerian vessels”, Chief Sarumi told a revered audience that assembled recently in Lagos Oriental Hotels, Lekki to witness the inauguration of the SOAN’s newly elected Executive members.
“I am also indeed very proud that a Nigerian, called Okesanjo and his team, have been able to carry the Nigerian gas in Nigerian bottom in my lifetime! And I do know out there, that one day, we will carry our crude oil!
“We won’t sell FOB. We will carry our crude oil. It is not every buyer that should be dictating what he wants; sometimes, the seller can also dictate. That is what we’ve been suffering over the years. And all we have been saying is that we want to be masters in our own house!
“We want to be controllers of our economy; and a group called SOAN brought themselves together, and like joke, like joke, like you young men would say; we are already getting there! I want to thank you, sincerely for this.
“If I was to die today, even though I am still young, for I know life really begins after 70; at least, I would be able to say, I have seen the fulfilment. “Simon said in ‘Nunc Dimitis’, what he was waiting to see and why he was happy. Now I too, am happy, I have seen it! And I want to tell you ladies and gentlemen, you have made us extremely proud!“
The world is already taking Nigeria serious; it is no longer the time when a minister called Nigerian ship-owners ‘surrogates!’ and disgraced them in front of the European Community Ship-owners Association, in my presence! And I abused the Minster; I did abuse the Minister.
It was going to cost me my job; and I couldn’t be bothered! But, as luck would have it for me, the Minister left before me. I was not the one who caused it. I was only lucky”, the Ibadan High Chief, who was also a former Managing
Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, stated further Chief Sarumi stressed that he was particularly happy because
the foreign ship owners would no longer be able to call Nigerian ship operators ‘surrogates’ again.
“Now, the European Ship-owners Association would no longer call us ‘surrogates’, they will no longer call us ‘commission- agents’; we are now ship-owners!” Chief Sarumi concluded, emphasizing why every Nigerian must encourage and support the SOAN, in the overall interest of both the economy and the teeming youths whose high expectations the Federal Government is assiduously working to meet!