…Says OFURE too small to be given to a foreign firm for dry-docking!***
The nation’s foremost shipping mogul, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun rose stoutly in defence of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and its management last week, stressing that though he read a report that the agency awarded a contract for dry docking of its tiny boat, MV Ofure for a whopping N248 million, he has refused to believe it.
The Maritime First did a story which the shipping guru could not respond to, because he was then outside the country, on the strength of allegation that Dakuku-led NIMASA management awarded the mindboggling contract; and felt there was need to further pursue the story, in line with journalistic ethics.
But, while sincerely defending the Agency, Ogbeifun, who is the pioneer Arrowhead of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), also warned, that on the basis of altruistic patriotism, he would not be against anyone calling for an investigation, in the event that the media report happens to be true.
“First of all, when I read the article, I did not and still do not believe the story that NIMASA awarded a contract to dry dock, a tiny, little vessel like the MV Ofure which my company, for instance has dry-docked since she was built, till date.
“We have the Ofure, we have the Millennium 1, Millennium 2, and one other one. So, we know it’s too small an initiative to be given to any foreign company!
“I read the article and didn’t believe it. I want to believe it’s not true, because if it is true, then I think the relevant Government agencies that are supporting the Nigeria economy to grow that should come and look into the matter. I don’t believe it is true!
“Yes! We all know that NIMASA brought in a floating dock; and which has not been put to operations right now. I don’t know why! If the dock has not been put to operation, then, I don’t expect them to use the dock to even dock their own vessels.
“But, let me say this, if you are in an industry using a 6000 or 5000 tonnes floating dock to dock a 150 tonnes vessel, it is like using taking a beetle car to Mercedes garage to repair; so you should think about it. Even if you are the Managing Director of the Mercedes garage and you own a beetle, you would take that Beetle to small shop, not to a giant garage!
“So, even if NIMASA’s floating was operational, they should look for a small yard, it doesn’t have to be STARZS, a small yard that can handle that; and we have a few of them in the country!
“If you go to Kirikiri, you will see some small floating docks repairing trawlers, they can pick up that, you don’t need to go outside this shores. So, I don’t believe that story.
“But, if it is true, I will insist that there’s an investigation on that matter, not just because of STARZS.
“Yes we bided for it; but going by the figures I was reading, I don’t believe it. I don’t go by anything I read. Instead, I will rather engage NIMASA and say: ‘if it is true, I will write a petition against you in the interest of this country; not because of STARZS! STRAZS is busy!
“If you go to the shipyard now as we speak, there’s a navy ship. Another one is coming and these are even bigger than OFURE! So, it’s not about STARZS. But, like I said, you can do it even in Kirikiri here!
“I don’t know if I have answered your question, but that’s my position on that. I just come back, and I don’t believe the story. But, you can go find out!”
… To be continued tomorrow!