Mr Akin Olaniyan, the Chief Executive Officer of International Naval Surveys Bureau in Nigeria, has urged the government to first encourage indigenous operators in the maritime industry before looking out for foreign investors.
Olaniyan told Marine Network in an interview in Lagos that genuine foreign investors could only be attracted if they see the environment in which the locals operate as encouraging.
He noted that prospective investors want to come and do business and make money, not necessarily coming to come and develop your country for you, if you fail to take on the responsibility.
“My advice to the government is that if it wants genuine investors to come, we have to first prepare and make the work environment encouraging for the indigenous operators.
“If we want a visitor to come and visit us and bring us good tidings, so that when he is going we too will give him good tidings, then, we must be prepared to create the good tidings for ourselves first.
“He doesn’t want to come to a slum. He is not coming to repair your country for you and that is the truth. That is one thing the government should realize, particularly in the maritime industry.
“Investor doesn’t want to come to Nigeria and stay; he doesn’t want to come and be a local super star in Nigeria, he wants to come to Nigeria, bring in $10 USD and take out $100 USD.
“If he now sees that there are so many loopholes and many rough edges in Nigeria, and people in Nigeria, he will not come,” he said.
Olaniyan said government had failed to pay attention to indigenous operators’ demand for improved business environment, in spite of investments they had committed to.
He added that most foreign investors who come in spite of the operational environment that locals faced, only did so for their selfish interest.
He said the situation was worsened by government officials’ preference to support foreigners, but treat fellow Nigerians with disregard.
“We have people who have invested all their lives; they invest all their wealth. Day in, day out they are crying to government ‘ do this for ‘ and the government is pretending as if they don’t exist.
“With that in place, do you think foreign investors will want to come?
“The foreigner that wants to come, wants to come and steal, which is what is happening in our waterways. They come here, connive with some officials and they pilfer our wealth.”
Olaniyan said the Flag Administration should work to encourage shipping development, which he said remained one of its key responsibilities.
In that vein, the maritime expert advised that government should support indigenous ship-owners to get jobs as ships are acquired for the purpose of working, and not for keeps.
“The business of ship-owning is about using the vessel to work. When you don’t get the jobs, you can’t get the vessel.
“If for example they give me the job today, I will now look for the vessel that will suit the job and I will deploy them.
“But it is not the other way round, to get the vessels first and then go and use it to apply for a job,” he said.