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Buhari dumps N5,000 jobseeker’s allowance

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  • Says Boko Haram no longer a threat to Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari has ruled out the payment of N5, 000 monthly allowances to unemployed youths in the country as promised by his party, the All Progressives Congress, ahead of the 2015 presidential election.

Buhari’s statement, which dismissed the N5,000 as largesse, has drawn the ire of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, which described the declaration by the President as an abandonment by the APC of the promise it made to Nigerians.

The President’s Saudi pronouncement contrasts sharply with those of some APC government officials who had, at different times and on various occasions, assured Nigerians that the fund to implement the promised allowance had been provided for in the 2016 Budget, which is currently before the National Assembly.

The President, who is on a one-week official visit to Saudi Arabia and Qatar, said during an interactive session in Saudi Arabia that he could not pay those not employed.

He said he had a “slightly different priority” from the position of his party on the payment of N5, 000 to unemployed youths, which he described as “largesse.”

The President said rather than paying unemployed youths, his administration would build infrastructure and empower able-bodied men to work.

“This largesse, N5,000 for the unemployed, I have got a slightly different priority. I would rather do the infrastructure, the school and correct them and empower agriculture, mining so that every able-bodied person can go and get work instead of giving N5, 000 to those who don’t work,” Buhari declared.

The APC, which defeated the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party at the March 28 presidential election, had promised during its campaign that if elected to the central government, it would pay N5,000 monthly to 25 million jobless youths. It also promised to introduce a free school-feeding programme.

A motion to compel the Buhari-led Federal Government to fulfil the campaign promise of paying the unemployed youths was recently rejected in the Senate.

The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice-President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, had at different times this year, stated that the funds meant to fulfil the electoral promise had been built into the 2016 Budget.

Akande had said the Presidency’s social protection plan had been segmented into six plans, namely Teach Nigeria; youth empowerment programme; conditional cash transfer; homegrown school feeding programme; free education for science, technology, engineering and mathematics students in tertiary institutions; and micro-credit scheme.

Under the conditional cash transfer which, according to him, is for extremely poor and vulnerable Nigerians, Akande said N5, 000 would be paid monthly to one million Nigerians.

He had also said work was ongoing on the identification of beneficiaries, stressing that it was the desire of the government to ensure the commencement of the programme in 2016.

Similarly, the Minister of Youths and Sports, Solomon Dalong, had also said last year that the Federal Government would commence payment of N5, 000 promised the unemployed youth during the campaign from 2016.

Dalong spoke when he visited the National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, to commiserate with him over the death of the party’s governorship candidate in the inconclusive election in Kogi State, Abubakar Audu.

The minister, who spoke to journalists during the visit,said the APC government was fully committed to fulfilling all campaign promises made before the last elections.

He said the payment of the promised N5,000 could only begin after if it had been included in the budget.

“I would want the youth to understand that every promise must be backed up by budgetary provision and our promise to pay N5, 000 is not contained in the 2015 budget. So, definitely, it is going to begin in 2016 as we have made budgetary allocations for that,” he said.

When contacted to react to the President’s decision to drop the APC’s promise, Odigie-Oyegun, said he was on leave and outside the country.

He said in a short message to our correspondent, “As you know, I am on leave and outside Nigeria.”

Calls to the mobile telephone number of the party’s National Secretary, Mai Mala Buni, indicated that it was switched off.

A response to a text message sent to him on the subject was still being awaited as of the time of filing this report.

When contacted, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, said the party would soon make public its position on the general state of the nation.

Metuh told one of our correspondents in a telephone interview in Abuja, on Sunday, “We will soon make our position on the general state of the nation and all these issues known after our caucus and NEC meeting.

“What we are hearing (from the ruling party) is quite different from what they promised Nigerians before and during the campaigns.”

In the meantime, President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday, stated that Boko Haram has been largely defeated, therefore the sect is no longer in a position to cause serious threat to the development programmes of his administration.

Buhari said since becoming President in May 2015, the terrorist sect has been decimated and weakened by the nation’s armed forces.

A statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, quoted the President to have spoken at a bilateral meeting he had with the the Emir of the State of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hammad Al-Thani, on Sunday.

“The conflicts in Yemen and Syria with their attendant humanitarian crisis need genuine international effort to solve.”

“Nigeria as a peace-loving country identifies with the State of Qatar in all her peace efforts in the world to end terrorist activities.”

“Nigeria is a victim of terrorism. It is with heavy heart that I stand before you and say activities of Boko Haram have led to loss of many lives and displacement of innocent people in our dear nation.” “We, however, take pride to inform you that since our coming to power, Boko Haram has been systematically decimated and are in no position to cause serious threat to our development programmes.”

“I wish to reiterate that Nigeria rejects violence and extremism in all their ramifications, and assure your Highness that we are with the State of Qatar in your efforts to fight terrorism and injustice in your region and in the world at large.”

Punch with additional report The Citizen 

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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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