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Au Revoir Anglais? EU Could Drop English as Official Language After Brexit

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  • Buhari, Saraki engage  in verbal exchange over Alleged forgery

English, the world’s second language and the main working tongue of EU institutions, may no longer be an official language of the European Union once Britain leaves the bloc, a senior EU lawmaker said on Monday.

The symbolic, if impractical, move would further reduce London’s influence on the continent, and infuriate the Irish.

Each member state has the right to nominate one EU idiom. Although English is the most spoken language in Europe, and an official language in three member states, only Britain legally chose it in Brussels. Ireland chose Gaelic. Malta picked Maltese.

“English is our official language because it has been notified by the UK. If we don’t have the UK, we don’t have English,” Danuta Hubner, chair of the European Parliament’s constitutional affairs committee told a news conference on the legal consequences of the British referendum to leave the EU.

English might remain a working language, even if it were no longer an official one, Hubner said, adding that keeping it an official language would require agreement by all member states.

Alternatively, rules could be changed to let countries have more than one official language, Hubner suggested.

French was the dominant language in the EU institutions until the 1990s, when the arrival of Sweden, Finland and Austria tilted the balance, amplified by central and east European countries that had adopted English as their second tongue.

EU documents and legal texts are translated into all 24 official languages of the bloc. If English were to lose that status, Britons would have to do the translation themselves.

English is also one of the three languages used to apply for EU patents. This gives English-speaking researchers and companies an edge over competitors who speak other languages.

France has never digested its linguistic defeat and imposed French as an equal working language, although the number of speakers is shrinking among Brussels officials.

In the meantime, the gloves were off yesterday.

Senate President Bukola Saraki, who is facing trial for alleged forgery of the Senate Rules, accused the Executive of being the architect of his travails.

He spoke of “a government within the government of President Buhari, which has seized the apparatus of Executive powers to pursue a nefarious agenda”.

But the Presidency would not allow the allegation to go undenied.

It challenged Saraki to name the cabal in President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

The President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said Saraki’s claim would have been more worthwhile if it had been backed with more information.

He issued a statement, saying: “If he had proceeded to identify those who constitute the ‘government within the government’, it would have taken the issue beyond the realm of fiction and mere conjecture.

“But as it stands, the allegation is not even worth the paper on which it was written, as anybody can wake from a troubled sleep and say anything.

“The Attorney-General of the Federation is the Chief Law Officer of the state. It is within his constitutional powers to determine who has infringed upon the law, and who has not.

“Pretending to carry an imaginary cross is mere obfuscation, if, indeed, a criminal act has been committed.  But we leave the courts to judge.”

To claim that President Muhammadu Buhari is anybody’s stooge, the statement said, is not only ridiculous, but also preposterous.

“It is not in the character of our President,” Adesina added.

Saraki accused the Executive arm of the government of bring up “trumped up’ charges against him.

In a statement he signed, Saraki described his trial as a cross he was prepared to carry.

The statement reads: “Today, we the leaders of the Nigerian Senate reiterate our innocence against the charges filed by the Attorney General of the Federal Government of Nigeria at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court on the allegations of forgery of the Senate Standing Rules document.

”In our view, the charges filed by the Attorney General represent a violation of the principle of the Separation of Powers between the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch as enshrined in our Constitution.

“Furthermore, it is farcical to allege that a criminal act occurred during Senate procedural actions and the mere suggestion demonstrates a desperate overreach by the office of the Attorney General.

“These trumped up charges is only another phase in the relentless persecution of the leadership of the Senate

”This misguided action by the Attorney General begs the question, how does this promote the public interest and benefit the nation?

“At a time when the whole of government should be working together to meet Nigeria’s many challenges, we are once again distracted by the Executive Branch’s inability to move beyond a leadership election among Senate peers.

“It was not an election of Senate peers and Executive Branch participants.

”Over the past year the Senate has worked to foster good relations with the Executive Branch.  It is in all of our collective interests to put aside divisions and get on with the nation’s business.

“We risk alienating and losing the support of the very people who have entrusted their national leaders to seek new and creative ways to promote a secure and prosperous Nigeria.

“As leaders and patriots, it is time to rise above partisanship and to move forward together.

”However, what has become clear is that there is now a government within the government of President Buhari who have seized the apparatus of Executive powers to pursue their nefarious agenda.

”This latest onslaught on the Legislature represents a clear and present danger to the democracy Nigerians fought hard to win and preserve.

“The suit filed on behalf of the Federal Government suggests that perhaps some forces in the Federal Republic have not fully embraced the fact that the Senate’s rules and procedures govern how the legislative body adjudicates and resolves its own disputes.

”Let it be abundantly clear, both as a citizen and as a foremost Legislator, I will continue to rise above all the persecution and distraction that have been visited on me.

“In the words of Martin Luther King Junior, ”the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at a time of challenge and controversy”.

“I will remain true and committed to the responsibilities that my citizenship and my office impose on me.

“Without doubt, the highest of those responsibilities is the steadfast refusal to surrender to the subversion of our democracy and the desecration of the Senate.

“This is a cross I am prepared to carry. If yielding to the nefarious agenda of a few individuals who are bent in undermining our democracy and destabilising the Federal Government to satisfy their selfish interests is the alternative to losing my personal freedom, let the doors of jails be thrown open and I shall be a happy guest.

NBC with additional report from Nation

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

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…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

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

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…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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