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Anxiety grips 33 governors over N552.74bn refund



  • As Buhari says: Our troops have crushed Boko Haram, flushed insurgents out of Sambisa forest 

Some of the 33 governors whose states benefitted from the recent refund of N553 billion excess deductions are desperate to keep details of the financial transactions from the public.

They do not want their civil servants in particular to have the details so that the workers will not be able to blackmail them as they did in respect of the bailouts.

President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the release of N522.74 billion to states as refunds pending reconciliation of records.

In directing Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun to release the money to the states, Buhari said workers’ welfare, particularly salaries and pensions,  must be prioritized.

Some states were accused of diverting the N300billion bailout  first given to them last year and abusing the loan restructure worked out for them by the Debt Management Office (DMO).

Many states are still owning their workers for several months and there are fears that some of the governors are less interested in using the refunds to meet their financial obligations to the workers.

Informed sources said in Abuja yesterday that the Presidency is likely to show more than a passing interest in how the states deploy the refunds and may even monitor the use of the cash.

It was also learnt that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) are also going to keep tabs on the utilization of the bailout funds by governors.

The refund sheets had been obtained by the anti-graft agencies as at press time.

The Nation gathered that the  governors prevailed on Adeosun not to make details of what they got  public to avoid  fresh confrontation with workers.

The breakdown per state remains a secret at the  Ministry of Finance in line with the agreement with the governors.

Following protest by states against over deductions for external debt service between 1995 and 2002, 33 states were listed as beneficiaries with each of them entitled to a cap of N14.5 billion being 25% of the amounts claimed.

Minister Adeosun said the payment of the claims will enable the states offset outstanding salaries and pensions which have been “causing considerable hardship.”

The presidency asked  the states to devote a minimum of 50% of any amount disbursed to address the challenges associated with salaries and pensions.

Investigation by our correspondent revealed that presidency had asked the 33 states to use 50 per cent of the bailout funds for “challenges associated with salaries and pensions.”

Security reports have however indicated that some of the governors have refused to disclose the amount actually given to their states.

Findings confirmed that some of the governors have devoted only 10 to 25 per cent of the bailout to payment of backlog of salaries

A reliable source in government said: “The presidency has received reports that some state governors were not forthcoming on the actual refunds paid to them. In fact, the row over the figures has caused tension.

“Some state governors have openly come out to declare that only a fraction of the bailout funds will be used for salaries and pensions. There is a state which purportedly received about N5billion, but it only earmarked N1.5billion, leaving outstanding wages unaddressed.

“The President will be personally upset if these bailout funds are diverted or converted to other use by the governors. The presidency is already monitoring development in all the states.

“If the bailout funds are not judiciously used, the presidency may not be disposed to such interventions in future.”

It was difficult at press time to get the exact figures of what was  released to each of the 33 states.

In the meantime, Nigerian troops have flushed out Boko Haram ragtag forces from their long held fortress, Sambisa Forest, an emphatic indication that Nigeria has dealt a crushing blow on the seven year old insurgency.

President Muhammadu Buhari broke the news himself in a special message to Nigerian troops fighting under Operation Lafiya Dole, “I am delighted at, and most proud of the gallant troops of the Nigerian Army, on receipt of the long-awaited and most gratifying news of the final crushing of Boko Haram terrorists in their last enclave in Sambisa Forest.

“I want to use this opportunity to commend the determination, courage and resilience of troops of Operation Lafiya Dole at finally entering and crushing the remnants of the Boko Haram insurgents at “Camp Zero”, which is located deep within the heart of Sambisa Forest. “I was told by the Chief of Army Staff that the Camp fell at about 1:35pm on Friday, December 23, and that the terrorists are on the run, and no longer have a place to hide. I urge you to maintain the tempo by pursuing them and bringing them to justice.

“I, therefore, call on all Nigerians to cooperate and support the Nigerian Armed Forces and other security agencies by providing useful information that will expose all the terrorists hiding among the populace. Further efforts should be intensified to locate and free our remaining Chibok girls still in captivity. May God be with them.

“I also want to congratulate and commend the able leadership of the Nigerian Army in particular and indeed, that of the Armed Forces in general, for making this possible. This, no doubt, will go a long way in improving the security situation not only in the North East, but the country in general. But we must not let our guards down. Once more, congratulations to our troops and all who, in one way or the other, contributed to this most commendable and momentous effort. May the Almighty continue to be with you.

” I wish you a Merry Christmas and a most rewarding and peaceful Year 2017 ahead.”

Nation with additional report from The Citizen


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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