Nigeria’s Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi

Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amechi has said that the only way the women can take their pride of place in the shipping industry in Nigeria is to adequately develop themselves and be competitive with the male folk rather than asking for empowerment.

The Minister, who made this remark while delivering a keynote address at the 2019 World Maritime Day celebration instituted across the globe by the International Maritime Organisation IMO, the global maritime regulatory agency with the theme: “Empowering Women In The Maritime Community,” held in Lagos, Thursday, said the women have all it takes to compete with their male counterparts in the industry.

The IMO had keyed into the global campaign of eliminating all forms of cultural, religious and social discriminations harassments against women with a view to having more women in critical sectors of the global economy. For instance, the IMO set aside June 25, every year as day of the seafarer, which is dedicated to celebrating the contribution of seafarers to global trade, which has a measure of impact directly or indirectly of the world’s population. The theme of this year’s event was: “I am on board with gender equality”, which is also in line with this campaign.  

According to the Minister, appointments to strategic positions not only in the maritime industry but also in most segments of the economy is not based on the sex of the person being appointed but more about the class and abilities the person possesses, saying that there are hundred millions of men and women who are dying of hunger not because of their sexes but because they lack certain abilities.

He cited the instance of former Minister of Environment, Mrs. Amina Mohammed, who is currently Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, saying that she has distinguished herself and can therefore fit into anywhere and given preference over and above the male folk not because she is a woman but because she possess certain abilities.

“I don’t agree with you on the idea of gender because the struggle is not peculiar to Nigeria alone, it’s everywhere in the world. It’s about the class you belong because there are millions of men and women languishing in poverty and dying of hunger. Women get appointment into prominent positions because they merit such appointments. I have female friends who are very educated and competent.

 “And one is Amina Mohammed who was a Special Adviser to the former Secretary General of the United Nations. It was when Mr. President visited the United States and saw Amina, that he was impressed with her and made her a Minister.

“Amina got to where she is today because she has a vision and wouldn’t listen to distractions. Life is about courage. So I will urge women in the maritime industry to stop begging for empowerment because it is their entitlement. God has blessed you (women), you are manipulators and can manipulate men to sign what they wouldn’t have not wanted to sign. Women are more brilliant”, Amaechi said.

He also urged everyone, whether male or female to join hands with the Federal Government to lift people out of poverty. He argued that if China can take about 800 million people out of her 1.5 billion population out poverty. Nigeria can also set that agenda by lifting people out of poverty.

The Minister therefore challenged successful women in the maritime industry in Nigeria to adopt measures that could lift other poor women in the villages and creeks who are victims of society out of poverty.

Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, Lynda Ikpeazu, while speaking at the event, said that the bottom-line of the matter is for women to rise and take what belongs to them instead of complaining and lamenting.

She argued that no one gives you power unless you rise and grab it yourself and therefore urged women to be more focused and diligent in all their endeavours.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Transport, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, while speaking at the event called for increased amount of scholarships and mentorship programmes to boost female participation in the shipping industry.

She added that women can excel and do as well as their male counterparts in a technology- driven shipping industry, adding that focus should be to address key areas like education, employment and businesses owned by women.

While admitting that some aspects of ports, shipping and allied operations are very physically demanding and challenging for the women, she believes that with persistence, they can achieve increased participation. She also called for increased funding by government and mentoring by successful females in the industry for younger ladies.

The minister commended the efforts of the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority NPA Hadiza Bala Usman and other women holding key positions in the industry.

She said: “Brave women with competence can do as much as their male counterparts in the shipping industry”.