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2015: Council of States advises INEC to consult on polls



After about seven hours of deliberations, the National Council of States rose from its meeting yesterday and advised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to continue preparations for general elections scheduled for this month.

However, the Council also advised the electoral body to consult widely with other stakeholders before the elections, contrary to reports yesterday that the Council directed INEC to go ahead with the polls.

In a joint briefing of State House correspondents after the meeting, Governors Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo, his Imo State counterpart Rochas Okorocha and Bala James Ngillarii of Adamawa State, said that the decision to push the final decision to INEC was based on the fact that the body was statutorily responsible for the conduct of the elections.

However, there was mild drama between Mimiko and Okorocha at the briefing as the two openly disagreed over the real issues at the meeting. Mimiko, who briefed first tried to dress it in coded language as he told journalists that the meeting had directed INEC to consult widely with all stakeholders before taking final decision on the election.

He refused to categorically state whether any decision to postpone the election was taken, instead insisted that INEC would brief the nation.

According to Mimiko: “It was a major issue that was discussed, ‎issue of  preparedness‎ of security to conduct elections nationwide, issue of extensive pilot use of the card readers which is a new technology. All of these were discussed, but ultimately council being an advisory body had to take advantage of the different perspectives of members to take decision about the election.

“For any avoidance of doubt like I said, INEC had the benefit of inputs and perspectives from council members. Issues of distribution of PVCs, card readers, the extent of piloting to ensure that people are familiar with this, security issues, all of these were discussed. Issues of the fact ‎that seven days to election 34 per cent of Nigerians are yet to get PVCs.”

Not satisfied with Mimiko’s explanation, Okorocha took over the microphone and immediately told journalists that the Council has asked INEC to go and carry out its statutory responsibility.

According to him: “The Council advised INEC to go and perform its civic responsibility which is to conduct elections. That is what we rose to agree, it was a very challenging moment, and INEC has reaffirmed severally that it is ready, but because of concern of security agencies in some few local governments,  Council asked INEC to go and perform their civic responsibilities, which is the conduct of elections.”

Asked if there was a decision as to change of date for the polls, he said: “There was no decision as to change of date or postponement at all, but the Council has asked INEC to go and perform its responsibility.”

The Imo governor, in an answer to another question as to place of Temporary Voters’ Card (TVCs) said: “TVCs are being exchanged for the new ones and once you have given out your temporary voter’s card, that means you don’t have any more. So people are going for the Permanent Voters Cards(PVCs) and the PVCs would be assumed to have been distributed before Sunday that was the  essence of the whole exercise, and  the INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru  Jega has reassured us that they are equal to the task, in-fact, they are more prepared than they were in 2011.”

Explaining the apparent discord between him and his Ondo State counterpart along party line, Okorocha said: “As usual we will not be on the same page on any matter of this nature. It is normal that some will be for and others will be against, but the truth is that we looked at the Nigerian Constitution, that is the only binding factor when there are issues of disagreements, the constitution guides every one because that is the fundamental law that guides the whole nation’s policies.”

The meeting was attended by General Yakubu Gowon, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Chief Earnest Shonekan, and Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar. However, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was absent.  Senate President David Mark and Speaker of House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal also attended.

Others at the meeting included Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Air Chief Marshal Alex Sabundu Badeh, Lt. General Kenneth Minimah (Army), Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin, (Navy), Admiral Adesola Amosu (Air Force), Suleiman Abba, Inspector-General of Police ( IGP),  Director-General(DG) State Security Service (SSS) Ita Ekpeyong, National Security Adviser ( NSA) Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (rtd), among others.

Governors present at the meeting included  Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of Kano, Rauf Aregebsola of Osun, Umaru Tanko Al-Makira of Nasarawa, Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko of Sokoto, Willie Obiano of Anambra and Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu of Niger.

Others included, Babatunda Fasola of Lagos, Henry Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa, Idris Ichalla Wada of Kogi, Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers, Mukhtar Ramalan Yero of Kaduna, Sullivan Iheanacho Chime of Enugu, Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun, Abdulkarim Abubakar Yari of Zamfara, Abdulfattah Ahmed of Kwara and Ibrahim Shehu Shema.

Also in attendance were, Jonah David Jang of Plateau, Liyel Imoke of Cross River, Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom, Isa Yuguda of Bauchi, Sule Lamido of Jigawa, Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole of Edo, Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta, Ayo Fayose of Ekiti, Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe.

Borno, Yobe, Abia, Oyo states governors were represented by their deputies. Taraba State Acting Governor, Danladi Abubakar was present, while the governors of Benue, Ebonyi and Kebbi states were neither present nor represented.

Jega led a retinue of his federal commissioners to brief the Council on the preparedness of the electoral body to conduct the polls. – Guardian.

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners



…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live



The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured



…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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