By Gboyega Oni
Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, Group Executive Vice Chairman, SIFAX Group, has rued the shortage of maritime legal experts in the country and having identified this, SIFAX Group decided to deepen the knowledge of law students and stimulate their interest in maritime industry through sponsorship of a maritime debate called Maritime Blueprint Competition.
Afolabi stated this at the end of the competition in Lagos where three universities – University of Lagos, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile Ife and University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) have emerged winners. Law students from eight universities participated in the competition.
According to Afolabi, “We don’t have enough maritime legal experts in the industry as I speak to you. Very few students also show interests in the legal aspect of the sector. Having identified this, the company decided to take up the sponsorship of the competition.
“We believe that this gesture would go a long way in stimulating interest of students in maritime law. I am personally leading the mentorship charge because as a lawyer, I have experienced firsthand the many opportunities inherent in the application of law to the maritime sector.
“We are also doing this because at SIFAX Group, it’s part of our corporate philosophy to positively affect the society,” he said.
At the end of the keenly-contested competition, which used a debate format, University of Lagos emerged the overall winner with 85 points while OAU and UNN came second and third respectively with 78 and 75 points. Other schools that participated include Bowen University, University of Benin, Babcock University, University of Ibadan and Lagos State University.
Various maritime topics were debated by the participants. Some of the topics were: ‘Is a reduction of port custom charges favourable to the Nigerian maritime sector,’ ‘Carriage of goods by sea: Rotterdam rules or Hamburg rules, which is more suitable,’ ‘Is arbitration the most effective means for settlement of maritime disputes’ and ‘Is insurance pivotal to achieving prompt settlement of maritime claims.’
The competition, sponsored by SIFAX Group, is one of the activities of the Taiwo Afolabi Annual Maritime Conference, which is in its second edition and held in partnership with the Maritime Forum of the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos. Mouth-watering prizes including laptops, smart phones and cash were given to the winners.
By Gboyega Oni