How Late Commencement, Boredom, Starvation Marred Shippers Council’s 2019 Appreciation Night

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Call it Stakeholders Appreciation Night or Stakeholders Starvation Night, you are not wrong either, because the 2019 edition of the annual Stakeholders Appreciation Night organised on last Thursday by the Nigerian Shippers Council was a far-cry from the beautiful outing of the same event last year as late commencement, boring event programmes and undue starvation made nonsense of a supposedly beautiful occasion with a beautiful intention in a beautiful intercontinental hotel.

In this part 1 of our Special Report on the occasion, Platform Reporters chronicles: The Minutes By Minutes Breakdown of what went down at the event.

How It All Began:

A week before the event date, the entrance gate of the Nigerian Shippers Council Headquarters at 4 Otunba Ayodele Shoyede Lane formerly known as Park Lane in Apapa – Lagos was adorned with a beautifully designed banner advertising the NSC’s 2019 Stakeholders Appreciation Night. Conspicuously hanged at the gate with boldly printed wordings, the time for the commencement of the occasion read 5pm prompt.

Seeing the banner, I recalled with nostalgia the beautiful memories of the 2018 edition of the same event at the same venue. Hence, I took note of the date as I looked forward to attending the occasion once again.

Like many other participants who attended the occasion that day, I closed work by 5pm at my office, and headed to the venue of the occasion. I arrived the venue about 10 minutes past 6pm and met a scanty hall as more than half of the chairs and tables in the hall were yet to be occupied by guests. After exchanging pleasantries with some colleagues and friends, I made myself comfortable in one of the tables reserved for press as we waited for more guests. Little by little, the guests were trickling in.

The Long Wait:

By 6:43pm, the Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Shippers Council, Barr Hassan Bello picked up the microphone to apologise for the delay in starting the occasion. He thanked the audience for their patience and informed that the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi was on his way, and that the event would start as soon as the minister comes. Hmmmm, so the waiting continues some retorted.

At our table, some of us wondered why the Chief executive would be the one to make the announcement. Is there no compel, some queried? That’s the job of a compel not the Chief executive, some of us murmured. Then, the band began playing and we kept on waiting.

By 6: 55pm, the Chairman, BOT of NSC, Mr Bashir Sheriff walked into the hall adorned in his agbada dress, and took his place at the high table, and we kept on waiting for other guests and for the Honourable Minister.

At exactly 8 minutes past 7 pm, the Master of Ceremony, Bolaji Akinola picked the mic to officially welcome the audience and to inform once again that we are still waiting for the Minister before kick-starting the event. At that point, some people got agitated. As the the MC was announcing that, I saw the President of WISTA Nigeria, Mrs Mary Hamman pick her bag and left. I overheard her at the exit door telling someone that she has another occasion to attend. Do I blame her, some of them came there by 5pm hoping that by 7pm the event must have gone half way so they could leave to attend to other things, but by past 7pm, the event is far from starting.

Meanwhile, the MC has started introducing some dignitaries afterwhich he yielded the floor to a comedian who didn’t find it easy making the mean audience laugh with his old jokes. None the less, that kept us busy for a while.

By 7:30pm, a hotel official was invited to give us some safety tips while waiting for the Minister’s arrival. At exactly 7:40pm, the long awaited Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rt Hon Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi walked into the hall in the company of NIMASA DG and some others. Shortly after, at exactly 7:45pm, the National Anthem together with the opening prayers was taken, signaling the official commencement of the occasion.

Without wasting much of time, the Board Chairman of NSC, Alhaji Bashir Sherif was asked to deliver his welcome address, followed by the Chairman’s Opening Remarks by Mr Oladipupo Jadesimi, Chairman of LADOL. And then came the long list of Goodwill Messages which was like the last stroke that broke the camel’s back.

The Boring Goodwill Messages:

By 8:15pm when Goodwill Messages was just starting, some people who came early and those who live very far from Victoria Island started leaving.

Included in the long list of Goodwill Messages were the representative of Senate Committee on Marine Transportation, Senator Tolu Odebiyi, the Chairman, House Committee On Ports and Harbours, Hon Dahtu Mohammed, representatives of Governors of Oyo state and Kwara state.

Others were: The MD of NIWA, the DG of NACCIMA, the Chairman of STOAN, the CEO of Nigerian Exports Promotion Council, amongst others.

And when one thought the Goodwill Messages were finally over, there was this boring presentation by the trio called NSC Youngsters (some newly recruited staff) who mounted the podium one after another making frantic efforts in an attempt to sell their new innovations in Shippers Council to the audience who at that point was thinking nothing but dinner and how to get home.

The Starvation Began:

While the youngsters presentations were ongoing at about 8: 54pm, I stepped out to use the restroom and I saw more people leaving the hall in their numbers. Notable amongst them was Capt Iheanacho Emmanuel, Chairman and CEO of Genesis Worldwide Shipping and Integrated Oil Gas Ltd, including some maritime journalists such as Obiajulu Agu and Anya Njoku, President of Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN). Meanwhile the starvation continued both for those who left with an empty stomach and those are still in the hall waiting for the occasion to end before dinner is served.

It was after the NSC youngsters presentations which lasted like 20 minutes that the CEO of Nigerian Exports Promotion Council was invited to deliver his own Goodwill Message which was immediately followed by a brief presentation by DG NIMASA, Dr Dakuku Peterside who spoke on “The Need for Synergy Amongst Agencies Under Federal Ministry of Transportation”.

Dakuku’s Presentation was originally scheduled to last for 15 minutes, but as time was fast spent, it was cut down to 5 minutes only, but I think the NIMASA boss spoke for less than 3 minutes because he was already feeling the pulse of the audience.

As he rounded off his presentation, himself and the Hon Minister were invited to present house keys to the beneficiaries of Shippers Council housing scheme. Then it was time for the Minister’s Keynote Speech which lasted for another 10 minutes or so.

Then Came The End With Dinner:

After the Minister’s Keynote speech, at about 10: 08pm, it was time for dinner and the Minister led some group of dignitaries to one serving point at the left hand side of the hall, while the Chairman of the occasion, led another group to the serving point at the right hand side. The dinner which started few minutes past 10pm lasted till past 11pm depending on when it gets to your turn in the queue.

Myself and 3 of my colleagues I lifted left the venue few minutes past 11pm. While I got to my residence in Ikorodu few minutes before midnight, some of my colleagues told me they reached home few minutes before 1am, no thanks to NSC 2019 Night of Appreciation/Starvation.

In part 2 of this Special Report, Why was the Minister of Transportation be the one to apologise to stakeholders on behalf of Hassan Bello for the starvation?

– Why was the Chairman, House Committee On Ports and Harbours, Hon Dahtu Mohammed keep repeating his grammatical blunder of saying “We facilitate with NSC,” instead of “We felicitate with NSC on this occasion”?

– Why was Rev Jonathan Nicol and members of his Shippers Association not recognised amongst the dignitaries by the MC during introduction nor included in the list of Goodwill Messages since NSC is primarily meant to protect Shippers’ interest?

– Did you notice the conspicuous absence of NPA Boss, Hadiza Usman or her representative at the occasion?

– What are the commendable developments and good lessons to take home from the event generally? Find out in part 2 of our Special Report tagged: “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly Of NSC’s 2019 Appreciation Night”. Coming out soon! Watch out!

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