… DECLARES CVFF AS BEING IN DANGER AS DG REQUESTS FOR SIX-MONTH LEAVE OF ABSENCE
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) may now have no options left than to drag the All Progressives Congress to court as it threatened, as the APC has thrown another bomb, even before the expiration of the Agency’s ultimatum lapsed, as the Campaign organization insinuates that something unwholesome might have happened to the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF).
The NIMASA Director General, Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi issued a three day ultimatum on Sunday morning, and which subsequently expired this morning, threatening to drag the APC to court if theorganization does not retract allegations that it was NIMASA that was funding the hate-campaigns against its flag bearer, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.
Ironically, not only did the APC Campaign Organization (APCCO) dismissed the threat of going to court by NIMASA as an “empty threat”, it has also tasked Nigerians to ask both the Federal Government and the agency to show where the CVFF, a special ‘esusu’ contributions by ship-operators, in custody of NIMASA gone to, insisting that the fund which it indicated its value as about $800 million and N50 billion could no longer be accounted for. The APCCO, according to the Sahara Reporters, a medium based in New York, gave indication to this, stressing that Nigerians should act fast on this, because the Director General may also have requested for “a six-month leave of absence from the agency”, without providing adequate reasons for the request.
“The APC Presidential Campaign Organization (APCPCO) has challenged the federal government and the Nigerian Maritime Administration & Safety Agency (NIMASA) to tell Nigerians what happened to the $800 million and N50 billion of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) which the agency was in control of until recently when the “Fund” became unaccounted for.
The APCCO Director, Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, posited that Nigerians deserve to know what happened to the money, and that the agency should make public the list containing names of beneficiaries and amounts from the “Fund” if any; noting that the “Fund” was money derived as 2% surcharge for all Contracts under the Cabotage regime which came into force in 2004 by virtue of the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act (Cabotage) 2003.
The Cabotage Act, which was closely modeled after the United States of America’s Jones Act 1938, was to help develop the capacity and participation of indigenous ship owners in coastal inland trade which was largely dominated by foreigners.
“Up till today, that objective has not been achieved as seen in the depleted Indigenous Ship Owners Registry, the mass unemployed Nigerian Seafarers, and the prevalence of foreign interest in the Nigerian coastal waters”, Malam Shehu observed further, adding that instead, the Cabotage regime now only breeds corruption, ranging from request of inducement and gratification from foreign ship owners through their agents for waivers processing by NIMASA and approval of the Federal Ministry of Transport by some top staff of the agency to the disappearance of the CVFF Fund meant to be accessed by the Nigerian ship owners.
He noted that the website of the Nigerian Ship Owners Association (NISA) shows that 90 percent of its 78 registered ship owners are on the brink of extinction as they are submerged in debts without the necessary CVFF to access.
He emphasized that “time is of the essence in publishing the list”, following fears that the money may have been diverted for other purposes such as the campaign of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, and the submission of a request from the Director General of the agency to proceed on a six-months leave of absence from the agency.
Efforts made to obtain the official reaction of the agency proved futile, as the agency image-maker, Isichei Osamgbi had switched off his telephones, while text messages sent to to him were yet to be responded to.
A senior staff of the organization who spoke on condition of anonymity said he was not aware that the Director General had made a request for any leave of absence.
“Honestly, as things now stand, we may no longer have any reason to delay taking legal actions action the APC; its like they have declared war, against the agency”, he posited, hinting that management was likely to back their arrowhead, on the need to institute the legal actions immediately.