Bello-koko Commissions WISTA Nigeria New Office, Pledges NPA’s Continuous Support

By Sylvanus OBASI, Lagos.

The Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Mohammed Bello-koko has pledged continuous support to the Women’s International Shipping  And Trading Association Nigeria (WISTA) through timely renewal of its new office and sponsorship of its programmes and activities.

The NPA boss made this pledge on Thursday in Lagos while commissioning the newly acquired office space of WISTA Nigeria located in Alaka area of Surulere in Lagos State. 

Speaking before cutting the tape to unveil the new WISTA office, representative of the Managing Director, Dr Mrs Chinwe Nwokolo, who is the General Manager, Medical Services of NPA commended WISTA Nigeria for the initiative to have an office of their own after 29 years of existence. 

“I want to congratulate WISTA Nigeria on this big milestone. To have a place you can call your own is a big milestone and a sign that you are going higher and that you are getting established. 

“I recognize the number of years WISTA Nigeria has been in existence. Now that you have an office of your own, I believe you will be heard louder and farther than before”, she stated. 

Speaking further, she promised to ensure that all the requests of the association get the needed attention of the Managing Director of NPA. 

“All the appeals that have been made, I heard, and you can say Mohammed Bello-koko heard. The management of NPA has been very supportive of women and very supportive of women in shipping. And I am going to assure you that every request made here is going to be placed before the substantive Managing Director. Both for the payment of the rent renewal to arrive even before this one expires, to all the sponsorships that has been placed before him. 

“I am sure the President will agree that there have been past sponsorships. The hope and prayer is that there will be more. I assure you that every bit of these appeals, I will take them to the management, she assured. 

Earlier in her welcome address, the President of WISTA Nigeria, Mrs Eunice Ezeoke appreciated dignitaries who left their busy schedules to attend the occasion. She provided some hints about the formation, history and objectives of WISTA as an association.

According to her, “The Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA), is an international association of women at management level in the maritime, trading and logistics sector which aims at supporting and attracting women in these various sectors.  

“WISTA International was formed in 1974 by a group of women in the UK, and WISTA Nigeria emerged 20 years later in 1994.  

“WISTA Nigeria is a member of National WISTA Association (NWA) existing in 59 countries. The organisation, a leading association for women in shipping, maritime, trade and logistics collaborates with other renowned maritime organizations worldwide to ensure that the voices of women in this industry are heard.

“As a member of the National WISTA Association, WISTA Nigeria implements it’s mission by increasing gender diversity, building capacity and professional development for its members and building a community that allows for exchange of experiences, information in the maritime, trade and logistics sector”.

Group picture of Past Presidents and WISTA Diamonds cutting a ceremonial cake during the commissiong of WISTA Nigeria Office in Alaka, Surulere, Lagos.

Speaking further, the WISTA President highlighted some of the achievements of the organization both at the national and international levels. 

“In 2019, WISTA International entered into an MOU with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on gender matters. WISTA Nigeria at almost 30 years, is the first and oldest women professional association in the maritime industry and has continued to provide advisory services to the relevant ministries and governments on gender related issues within the maritime industry. 

“Members of WISTA Nigeria have benefitted immensely from the industry and international exposure and various network opportunities and IMO Scholarships. Younger WISTA members receive mentorship from the older successful committed members.

“In the continuous achievement of the above, it became imperative that WISTA Nigeria after about 30 years has a place to call its own and with the assistance of other relevant stakeholders like the Nigerian Ports Authority and members of WISTA amongst others. 

We are excited to announce that WISTA Nigeria now has a place of her own and it is my pleasure once again to welcome you to the commissioning of our office.

“WISTA has taken part in a number of conferences and partnerships with other organizations this year. 

“Notably, there was the establishment of the first-ever “Maritime Women Network.” It is expected that positive outcomes will come from this network, which was formed by uniting all maritime women associations under one umbrella”, she was said.

President of WISTA Nigeria (2nd right), Mrs Eunice Ezeoke decorating Dr Mrs Chinwe Nwokolo (2nd left ) with WISTA lapel for her induction into WISTA Nigeria membership, during the commissioning of WISTA Nigeria Office in Alaka, Surulere, Lagos on Thursday.

The WISTA President also used the occasion to thank various government agencies for supporting WISTA Nigeria over the years, especially Nigerian Shippers Council for accommodating the association in their headquarters since the past 29 years. 

“Furthermore, we wish to express our deepest gratitude to the past Executive Secrataries of Nigerian Shippers Council for accommodating WISTA Nigeria over the past years. From late Mr. Biu, to Chief Sarunmi, Mallam  Hassan Bello, Mr Jime to the present Executive Secretary, we remain very grateful. We sincerely hope you will continue giving your customary listening ears to WISTA Nigeria. 

“We would also like to thank other maritime stakeholders like NIMASA, Shippers Council, NIWA and the newly established Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy for their support of women in the maritime industry.

“Over the years, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has  worked with and provided financial and moral support to WISTA Nigeria. We would like to express our sincere gratitude and thanks to the NPA management, which is led by Mr. Bello Koko, Managing Director for their steadfast support, for covering the rent, and for ensuring that a new WISTA office is established. 

“We want this cooperation and support to continue as this will ensure that WISTA Nigeria is able to do its good work of training and showcasing women in the maritime sector and increase the contribution of women to the sector”. 

Mrs Funke Agbor, SAN presenting WISTA Nigeria Special Recognition Award to the representative of the MD of NPA, during the commissionig of WISTA Nigeria Office in Alaka, Surulere, Lagos on Thursday.

She also sought the continuous support of the agencies on the programmes and activities of WISTA Nigeria. And also expressed the readiness of the organisation to collaborate with other stakeholders towards attainment of its goals. 

“We therefore implore the NPA and NIMASA Management to continue to ensure that networking and capacity building for women’s organisations such as WISTA Nigeria is fully  supported. This can be additionally accomplished by supporting women in the maritime industry through scholarships and by funding female delegates to worldwide international conferences. 

“WISTA Nigeria will continue to collaborate with relevant stakeholders, from NPA to NIWA to NIMASA, the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy and other maritime bodies, both public and private, in achieving and repositioning Nigeria as leader in Africa and globally in the maritime industry.

“We’re happy to be hosting this event today, and we hope that 2024 brings you all prosperity. Once again, welcome to the WISTA Office, she said as she ended her welcome address. 

Similarly speaking while giving their goodwill messages, the past Presidents of the association known as Diamonds in the persons of Mrs Ify Akarele; Mrs Funke Agbor, SAN; Mrs Jean Chiazor Anishere, SAN; Mrs Carolyn Ufere; amongst others  took turns to express their joy and excitement for the new office which their described as a milestone achievement. 

Representative of MD of NPA, Dr Mrs Chinwe Nwokolo, cutting the tape to unveil WISTA Nigeria new Office Secretariat at Alaka, Surulere, Lagos on Thursday.

They also commended the current president of the association, Mrs Eunice Ezeoke for fulfilling his campaign promise to the organisation, adding that future Presidents must not lower the standards she has set as they must be held accountable to fulfill whatever campaign promise they would make when seeking to be elected. 

Highlights of the event included Unveiling and Commissioning of WISTA Nigeria New Office by the MD of NPA; Induction of Dr Mrs Chinwe Nwokolo, General Manager, Medical Services, NPA into WISTA Nigeria membership; Presentation of Special Recognition Awards and WISTA Magazine to the MD of NPA, DG NIMASA, ES NSC and Area Manager, Lagos Area Office of NIWA; as well as cutting of WISTA Nigeria cake and toast for the milestone achievement of the association in year 2023. 

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