Come December 15th, 2023, all roads will lead to Owerri, capital of the Eastern Heartland State of Imo, as the who is who in the Nigeria maritime and shipping landscape, from across the two geo-political zones of South-East and South-South and beyond, will converge in the city for the maiden edition of the Eastern Maritime Community Day of Honour/Grand Reception for Outstanding Leadership And Achievements.

This event which is the first of its kind in the contemporary history of the region, code-named, “Unveilling The Eastern Magic” will be recorded as the best and biggest maritime event East of the Niger in 20 years, only next to the defunked Customs Comptroller General’s Conference, both in scope, content and target audience.

In a statement released by the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) of this year’s festival, and signed by its chairman Ugoh Chika Ernest, the founding philosophy and objectives behind the event is to roll out the red carpet to recognize and honour top entrepreneurs, public officers and managers of South- East and South-South extraction, playing in the local, national and international maritime and shipping arena, for a very successful outing and for doing the region proud, by recording great achievement and significant milestones in their careers, and for their enormous sacrifices and contributions towards the growth and development of the industry, region and the larger society.

Again, these worthy and illustrious sons of the region will also be appreciated for positively touching the lives of their people by creating job opportunities, empowering women and youths and attracting projects and amenities that are of social-economic values and importance to families and communities.

Beyond recognizing their own and in the spirit of national unity, the scheme will also target a selected crop of non-Eastern maritime actors especially Customs Officers, who shall receive a warm golden handshake across the Niger for showing unquantifiable love, friendship, cooperation and support to industry operators and key stakeholders from the region by providing a safe, secure, conducive business environment and level playing ground, devoid of ethnic bias which in no small measure helped their jobs, business and economy to thrive.

According to the release, the event will feature a keynote speech to be delivered by an Igbo erudite technocrat, intellectual powerhouse and resource person, Compt Orafu (Rtd) on the topic “Harnessing the Rich Human and Material Maritime Assets For Industrial and Economic Transformation.

The release states that the major attraction of the day will be the unveilling of the “Eastern Magic” a special documentary which chronicles the landmark achievements, major business breakthroughs, significant milestone and exploits made by Eastern maritime leaders in the past two decades. These worthy ambassadors from the region and their true friends from across the Niger shall be conferred with the Prestigious Noble Prize For Outstanding Leadership And Achievements – the highest business and corporate governance title East of the Niger.

The statement emphasized that the past two decades have been very eventful for the industry especially from the perspective of Eastern players who have made things happen accounting for over 80% of total volume of shipping trade and raked about N25 Trillion to Federal Government as revenue. It regrets that these successful managers of human and material resources like the proverbial “goose that lays the golden eggs” have not been adequately recognized but were instead treated with indignity, vilified and sometimes hounded around like common criminals by the powers that be.

It advised Federal Authorities to take advantage of the abundant manpower resources and the biblical wisdom from the East to turn around the fortunes of key maritime establishments like Customs, NPA etc by appointing them as their apex heads.

The statement gave the names of prominent Easterners to be honoured as follow: His Excellency, Dr Alex Oti, the action Governor of Abia State for embarking on an aggressive road infrastructure revolution across the state especially Aba, the commercial nerve centre of the state considering its strategic importance as a large market and major transit point for import/export activities. This will no doubt bring a big relief to business owners and transporters who have long suffered untold hardship and colossal losses running into billions of naira and sometimes human casualties due to bad roads.

Gov. Fubara of Rivers State, a throughbred technocrat and grassroots leader, who a few months in office has left no one in doubt about his ability and preparedness to sustain the tempo of peace in the state and even improve on it and to provide a conducive political atmosphere for business to thrive especially the maritime industry. This is a clear demonstration of gross sensitivity to the peculiar status of the state as mini-Nigeria and core maritime state, which is home to multi-billion dollar worth of maritime investment across the state.

Wale Adeniyi, the Comptroller General of Customs who will be honored for setting in motion radical changes in Customs through his Transformation Agenda that will holistically, eliminate structural imbalances and lopsidedness which have devilled the establishment and build a truly Pan-Nigeria Customs which emphasize merit, hard work and professionalism and which provide limitless opportunities for citizens irrespective of tribe, religion, political affiliation or any other primordial sentiment.

Happily, these measures have started bearing good fruits already as it has paved way for the emergency of officers from heavily marginalized and disadvantaged areas like South-East as head of strategic commands and formations which were hitherto the birthright of a section of the country

Chief Dave Umahi the former governor of Ebonyi State and currently Minister of Works. A proud and an illustrious son of Igbo land, he has committed better part of his life to nation building and building bridges of friendship across divides and left indelible footprint across Nigeria’s political and economic landscape which deservedly earned him the key appointment under Tinubu administration.

As the minister in charge of Federal roads, his first official assignment and policy pronouncement was to boldly and courageously condemn the neglect of Eastern roads by previous administrations with a solemn promise to redesign them and bring them up to standard with the ones in other parts of the country. Chief umahi’s bold steps were cheering and reassuring considering the importance of good road network on the socio-economic lives of the region.

Again, the Ebonyi born astute leader has broken a world record as the first Igbo leader among his contemporaries to openly throw his hat to the ring and challenge the almighty Federal Government for not treating the region well, at a time when other sycophants from the zone were busy singing praises for obvious selfish reasons.

It shows that at last, Igbo land now has a strong voice at the centre and that better days are around the corner, which is commendable hence his choice for the award.

The release gave the names of five Customs Area Controllers and a unit head, among the list of high profile recipients who were carefully and painstakingly selected from among the lots for living above board as Chief Executives of their various commands for their full support towards genuine and legitimate Igbo maritime interest by providing a conducive atmosphere and level playing ground devoid of bias, intimidation, witch hunt which have enabled Eastern business to succeed, grow and thrive, thereby making their Areas the most Igbo business friendly commands across the country.

The officers are, the CAC, Tin-can Island Command Compt. Dera Nnadi; a worthy apostle of the CG’s Transformation Agenda and perfect shining example of good brotherliness who has continued to proudly carry his true Igbo spirit and philosophy of enterprise, hard work, head up and shoulder high in the committee of divers people and in the discharge of his duties in a manner that does not compromise or jeopardize national interest. Others are Compt. Jide who holds sway at Apapa Command; Compt. Yusuf who is in charge of PTML, Dep. Compt. Kolade the lion of F.U.O Zone ‘C’ Owerri, and Dep. Compt. Frank Onyeka, doing what he knows best at Tin-can Command as a sectional head.

Comptroller Baba Imam, another fine gentleman at Area (2) Command, Onne Rivers State very unassuming and passionately committed to peace building, suppression of smuggling activities, trade facilitation and revenue generation, who fully recognizes and appreciates the importance of importer/agents doing business in his command and treats them with dignified respectability. He is a peace maker per excellence who does not believe in unnecessary confrontation and even when it is very necessary the wield the big stick; he does that with an acute sense of human face. The Eastern Mantine Community are proud to have him not just as Area Controller but as friend and brother and therefore deserve the accolades he can get from them.

On his part, Deputy Controller, Kolade as the Chief anti-smuggling campaigner in F.O.U Zone ‘’C’’ comprising the eleven states of South- East and South-South, his no-nonsense stance against economic saboteurs, have helped to suppress smugglleg and stamp out criminal elements, who are given the zone a bad name, thereby promoting legitimate trade, attracting genuine investors, generating revenue, creating job opportunities and boosting economy of the area. All these have endeared him to the hearts of the Eastern Business Community which prompted his choice for this honor.

The release aligns with the success story of a crop of Igbo and Eastern importers, freight forwarders, bonded terminal operators, transporters who have over the years, made significant mark and are today, the pivots of the industry both at the local and international stage.

These are rare gifts to our generation and hope to the region, given their enormous resources, wealth of experience, leadership qualities, solid connections and other good attributes which make them invaluable asset to the region and larger society, worthy of appreciation and encouragement.

Through their business outfits, the fastest and most improved corporate shipping conglomerates in the 21st century, they have contributed their quota and paid their dues towards, nation building and regional integration beyond the call of corporate social responsibility, and are therefore our heroes.

They are Eze Mentus (Ezems Group of Companies); Chief Ernest Elochukwu (Nestello Gateways); Emenike Nwokeji (ANCLA President); Chief Henry Njoku ( Harritex Group); Chief Kingsley offor (Kingsoo Group); Deacen Chinedu Ikenga ( Prestige Associates); Hon Ifeanyi Isikaku (Godify Towers); Mike Ebeatu (ANCLA Chairman, Onne Chapter);Dennis Okwu (Sweet Apple Group); Comrade Chidera (Oldest), Chief Tony Nnabuife (Skelas Group).

The project is a brainchild of Maritime Media Stakeholders’ Forum, a coalitum of indigenous Maritime journalists. And media groups of South-East and South –South Nigerian, and endorsed by critical industry stakeholders from within and outside the zone


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