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Buhari under pressure to stop anti-graft battle

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  • As Kachina says there’s no plans plan to sack NNPC staff

President Muhammadu Buhari is under pressure from some highly-placed Nigerians to slow down his anti-graft war, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said yesterday.

But the government will not pull the brakes because fighting corruption is what Nigerians want, the Vice President said.

Prof. Osinbajo spoke during a meeting with a delegation from the Moslem Congress of Nigeria at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

A statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, said the Vice President noted that the government had been getting regular messages from some Nigerian elites urging it to take it easy.

“We get regular messages from some Nigerian elites saying ‘cool down’.

“It is a very strange morality, that some of those people have, very complicated but cutting across all tribes and religious differences,” he said.

He, however, observed that the masses of the Nigerian people have a clearer understanding of right and wrong.

“The masses don’t have that problem,” he said

According to him, a new tribe of Nigerians who would not compromise their values but would maintain a sense of right and wrong is now emerging.

“The man on the street is very clear, so whatever some of these elites say, we shall keep our focus on the masses who voted for us,” the Vice President said.

He said it was simply unacceptable that in the last 16 years, there is not a single federal government completed road, let alone rail.

Noting that the reason for their failure was corruption, he said the cost of projects were often inflated as people entrusted with public trust struggle to enrich themselves at the expense of the people.

Osinbajo said it was the same inordinate desire for enrichment that explains why money meant to procure arms were being distributed among persons at a time when the territorial integrity of the nation was being attacked.

“The insurgency has gone on for six years because government could not adequately equip the military,” he said

But the Vice President assured Nigerians that President Muhammadu Buhari will not relent, adding that we have no other agenda but  ”the progress of this country”.

Osinbajo added: “Mr. President and I are extremely focussed on what we need to do. We will focus on critical things, infrastructure and social investments.”

The leader of the delegation from the Moslem Congress of Nigeria, Imam Abdulahi Shuaib expressed readiness to assist government where necessary.

“We are thankful that our candidates of choice in the election emerged,” he said, adding that the choice of the President and the Vice President was made by God during last year’s presidential election.

The Vice President also received delegations from the Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE) and the Facility for Oil Sector Transparency Reform (FOSTER), a group composed of NGOs involved in various programmes in the Niger Delta.

Osinbajo praised the engineers and highlighted the importance of the profession in national development.

“There is no question at all that engineers are central to the development of the society,” he noted.

The NSE delegation was led by its President, Mr. Otis Anyaeji.

The Vice President restated the government’s commitment to the development of the Niger Delta.

He praised the group for coming together to develop a common framework to support development in the area.

The group, which said it adopted a common framework to avoid duplication, was led by Mr. Richard Oshowole.

Many officials of the Goodluck Jonathan government are either being probed for alleged corrupt acts or being tried after being arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The $2.1billion arms cash which some government officials allegedly shared as campaign fund and the alleged fraud in arms procurement are top on the ongoing probe.

Former National Security Adviser (NSA) Col. Sambo Dasuki is at the centre of the alleged fraud. He is standing trial for money laundering and criminal breach of the law.

Yesterday, a former aide to former Vice President Namadi Sambo, Mallam Abba Dabo, told the court in Abuja that he collected N25million from Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Publicity Secretary Olisa Metuh’s firm – Destra – to undertake a publicity job. But he told the court that he surrendered the cash to the EFCC when he discovered that the money came from the office of the National Security Adviser.

Also yesterday, the government accused Dasuki of plotting to scuttle his trial before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Maitama, Abuja.

Dasuki is being tried with a former Director of Finance and Administration, Office of the National Security Adviser, Shuaibu Salisu, a former General Manager, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Aminu Babakusa and two companies – Acacia Holdings Limited and Reliance Referral Hospital Limited – on a 19-count charge.

The accusation is contained in a counter-affidavit filed by the prosecution against an application filed by Dasuki.

The ex-NSA, in the application he filed last month, accused the EFCC and by extension, the Federal Government, of breaching his right to prepare for his defence by re-arresting him after the court granted him bail last December 18.

In the meantime, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, has stated that staff of the NNPC would not be sacked in the ongoing reforms of the corporation.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, disclosed this to labour union leaders in the oil and gas sector in Abuja, explained that the Federal Government will expand the operations of the NNPC so as to make it competitive, instead of reducing its workforce.

Speaking in the same vein, Deputy President, Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr. Achese Igwe, said some concessions had been reached with the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources on the issue.

He said, “We are going to vehemently resist any attempt to sack workers. We have advised service companies and multinational firms that are in the act of outsourcing and contracting that this will portend the loss of jobs for Nigerians. We say no to them because that is not what this government is all about.

“The government today talks about job creation and not job losses. With the current economic challenge we are having in our country, we need not to lose jobs that are already created.”

Achese further stated that Kachikwu had assured labour union officials that there are no plans to cut jobs in the NNPC and its subsidiaries. He said, “One of the concrete assurance he has given is that there will be no job losses.

He has said there will be job security and he is thinking of expanding the business of the NNPC to be a profit organisation and to also be a world class oil and gas company like Petrobras, Petronas and the rest of them.

“If you ask me, what is the staff strength of the NNPC and what is the staff strength of Petrobras, Petronas and the rest of them? We are just an inch of the staff strength of these organisations. Most of them have a staff strength of 34,000 personnel and what is the staff strength of NNPC? The entire staff strength of NNPC today is not up 5,000 as the case maybe, and you are talking about these organisations that came after you or almost the same time with you.

“We have said clearly and I am speaking as the NUPENGASSAN chairman today that any attempt to cause job losses in the oil and gas sector especially at the NNPC, we will definitely react. We will resist it accordingly and we will do it within the framework of what labour union is known for.”

Nation with additional report from Vanguard

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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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