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Doctors embark on 5-day strike from today

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  • As US tells Nigeria: We won’t fund your census

National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, yesterday directed its members across public hospitals in the country to suspend services, effective from 8 a.m. today. The hospitals are to remain shut till next week Monday, as NARD said it was embarking on a five-day strike to press government to meet its demands. Consequently, both out-patients and in-patients in government hospitals will have to be treated by consultant (senior) doctors, who are often fewer in number than resident doctors.

NARD’s President, Dr Muhammad Askira, told journalists at a briefing in Abuja that government had failed to meet their demands, even after recent assurances from the President, when he met with leadership of the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA. According to him, an indefinite strike earlier planned for last Monday was shelved.

He explained that the association would further take a decision on the next line of action at the end of this month. Askira said after critical analysis of issues affecting NARD at an extra-ordinary National Executive Council, NEC, meeting, it was observed that there were some processes still ongoing in resolving the impasse between government and the doctors, and that efforts so far made by government had not yet met the doctors’ demands. Issues considered at the NEC meeting, according to him, include nonpayment of salaries of resident doctors, who work in states, unpaid December salaries of doctors in some federal hospitals, house officers’ entry steps not effected, skipping and nonpayment of accrued arrears for doctors in most hospitals in the country.

The doctors argued that a committee promised by government on residency training was yet to take off, while some of their members sacked by government had not been recalled. “After exhaustive deliberations, the NEC made the following resolution: that the proposed indefiSenate President Bukola Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal in Abuja on the continuation of his case, yesterday.nite strike due to commence on 9th May 2016 has been shelved.

“That a five-day nationwide warning strike will be embarked upon commencing from Wednesday 11 May, 2016 by 8 a.m. for work to resume on Monday 16 May, 2016 by 8 a.m. prompt. “That NARD will review the situation at our Ordinary General Meeting holding from 30 May, 2016. “This decision is to press home our demands for implementation, in one hand, and also to enable the government enough time to expedite action in areas not adequately addressed. “…NARD appreciates the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, the leadership of the National Assembly, including all the members of the Senate and House Committees of Heath and Labour Matters, NEC members and all well-meaning Nigerians for their positive roles since the beginning of this impasse,” NARD said.

This is the first time medical practitioners would down tools nationwide, since President Muhammadu Buhari came to power. A similar action in 2014 resulted in former President Goodluck Jonathan ordering suspension of residency training for doctors, resulting in their sack from hospitals. The decision was soon reversed, following appeals from the public. Speaking on recurrent crisis in the nation’s health sector, especially among health professionals, Askira informed that non-medical practitioners were to blame.

He argued that many non-doctors who had wanted to become doctors failed university admission test set by Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB, and eventually accepted to study other health-related programmes adjudged by the public to be lower in value than Medicine. He stressed that when such people graduate and find themselves in the working environment with doctors, they aspire to lord themselves over the doctors.

In the meantime, the United States Government on Tuesday in Abuja ruled out any financial assistance for Nigeria to conduct its nationwide census whose preparation had been dogged by shortage of funds.

Although the population census had been shifted to 2017, feelers from the National Population Commission, indicated that it may not hold because  President Muhammadu Buhari had yet to make a proclamation on it.

The American government specifically told Nigeria that it would not fund the exercise because “it is not somebody else’s census, it is your census.”

The Office Director, Health Population and Nutrition Office, United States Agency for International Development, Dr. Nancy Lowenthal, ruled out financial assistance in an interview with The PUNCH, during the opening ceremony of a training workshop for the members of staff of the NPC on the 2017 population and housing census organised by the United States Census Bureau with support from USAID.

She said, “It is important to stress that the United States government does not fund the census of another country. But what Nigerian government can do is to collaborate with USAID, the USCB and other US agencies that can help to provide a strong technical assistance to develop the best possible, credible and accurate census.

“It is very important for the Nigerian government at all levels to recognise what a census does. It is a demographic information about your country: how many men, how many women, and how many children are in Nigeria. There are also information about household income and other aspects of demography in a census. Without a credible census in every single community, you cannot have a data. This is fundamental to governing your country. It is, therefore, fundamental to government to find the resources to finance its census.

“It is important for any government to be able to fund its census because without it, you will not be able to do other components. It is not apportioning the Federal Government with funding, this is real planning; the commissioners should know the type of vaccine coverage and how many children are out there. It is not somebody else’s census but the census of the government of Nigeria as represented by Mr. President through the chairman of the NPC down thorough all the structures in the federal, states, local governments and rural levels and it is your census.”

The Chairman of the NPC, Chief Eze DuruIheoma (SAN), had last year, during a press briefing in commemoration of the 2015 World Population Day with the theme, “Vulnerable population in emergencies,” hinted that the population census earlier scheduled for this year would not take place due to poor budgetary allocation.

Although the exercise had, however, been scheduled for 2017, DuruIheoma, when asked about the actual date for the 2017 census said, “The President has not made any proclamation and, as such, nobody can tell the date and time for the census.”

Justifying the reasons why the 2016 census would not hold, the NPC chairman had told journalists that if, indeed, Nigerians wanted the 2016 national census, they must demand it just like they did during the recently concluded general election.

National Mirror with additional report from Punch

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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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