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Buhari pleads for time, patience to stabilize economy

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President-elect, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), has said that he is currently at a loss on how best to tell Nigerians that his promise of turning the economy around quickly upon assumption of office on May 29 may not be feasible after all.

Buhari premised his fear on the perception that the economy has been battered by the outgoing government of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP. This was even as governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, said empty treasuries may be awaiting them in their respective states. The governors cried out that most state governments had gone bankrupt and, therefore, cannot pay workers’ salaries.

Vice President-elect, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha and APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie Oyegun when the President-elect meet with APC Governors and Governors-elect at the Defence House in Abuja on Tuesday, 05 May 2015 According to them, it was obvious that they were going to inherit huge debts which may delay speedy progress in their respective states.

They were, however, silent on APC states like Lagos, Edo and Osun, which are currently the most indebted in the country. Buhari and the governors expressed the fear when the governors paid him a congratulatory visit at the Defence House, Abuja.

Buhari, who recalled what the regime of late General Sani Abacha did to establish the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund, PTF, however said he would plead with Nigerians for their understanding and patience even as he reiterated his commitment to restoring security.

He said: “The expectation is too high and I have started nervously to explain to people that Rome was not built in a day. For this to be corrected, please, give the incoming government a chance.

“Here, I will like to recall what happened during the Abacha regime which led to the emergence of PTF. The Abacha regime was a military regime and it thought that the only way was to increase the prices of petroleum products. But they were not taking Nigerians for a ride. They would have said that if Nigerians decide to riot, they have the guns and so they can have their way.

“They decided to tell Nigerians that they were going to increase prices of petroleum products and the money we get, we will put aside for development. That was how PTF came.

“So, this time around, under this system, to bounce back with the issue especially with the backlog of salaries which are of immediate concern to individuals and states, I think we should look for a better way to address the issue and think of how to persuade people to give us a chance to organise the economy immediately and get something to pay salaries. The people will give us a chance to stabilise the economy.”

Buhari who also lamented what he likened to destruction of social infrastructure especially in education, however, assured that his government would ensure that the country is improved in all ramifications. Buhari also thanked the governors-elect, re-echoing that the formation of APC as an offspring of the merger of the legacy parties earned them victory at the polls.

He said: “The decision to merge was a good one because this helped us. At every step, there were many road blocks.

During the merger, APGA and DPP wanted to come in, but we felt that if they are allowed to come in at that time, it will be used to frustrate the merger and so we asked them to stay action until after the merger. So we advised them to just be observers.

“We decided that the nine major people that were leading the Legacy parties should lead us to the first major convention where the new party will then elect its new leadership. These nine people were the national chairmen, the national secretaries and the treasurers.

“The next step was what earned us respect. I had thought that all INEC Commissioners were our enemies and they said, ‘no, take the documents for the registration back because you need presence in all the geopolitical zones of the country.’ There were lots of efforts by the PDP to frustrate our emergence as a party.”

 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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