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‘DON’T KILL ‘CHANGE’ WITH POOR BOARDS APPOINTMENT” – OMOTESO

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…WARNS  BUHARI AGAINST WHOLESALE APPOINTMENT OF CONTRACTORS, POLITICIANS 


The desired change which the Nigerian maritime industry stakeholders are envisaging from General Muhammadu Buhari may not materialize if the in-coming President fills up the board-members slots with only contractors and politicians, a maritime guru has indicated.

Seasoned ship master and former Consultant to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Capt. Solomon Omoteso who indicated this; has therefore enjoined the incoming President to ensure the appointment of quality industry operators and core stakeholders, into the Government’s parastatal boards, particularly, for parastatals in the maritime industry.

He also tasked professional bodies in the industry, particularly the Maritime Law Association; Master Mariner Association; and Marine Engineers and Surveyors to demonstrate their preparedness to assist in pushing the country forward.

Capt. Omoteso, a highly revered octogenarian also pleaded with General Buhari to always consider first, the options of those still in service and those with relevant experience first as parastatal arrowheads, before rewarding politicians and political associates who totally lacked the desired competence.

Pointing out that Government maritime parastatals often spelt clearly the qualifications of those who should be on the boards, he subsequently noted that it was the wholesale appointment of different categories of contractors as board members that had weakened most parastatal output.

“That has been one of our major problems in the maritime industry. The board is often very weak”, observed Capt. Omoteso, highlighting that a situation where a board could not make meaningful contributions to important issues, within the first six or seven month would not be in the best interest of the country.

“If you have a board of directors in NPA today, and for the next seven or eight months, some are still visiting the port because they don’t know what the port is all about, would not be anyone’s best interest.

“Or if you assembled board members that are contractors; and you then cap it with a Managing Director who is seasoned, the lapses would still show”, he posited, using the Nigerian Ports Authority ( NPA) as a good example.

“We have made such mistakes before.  The first mistake was when we brought a complete outsider to be the Managing Director. You knew what followed. 

“Now,  that they are bringing another one; we should not be surprised if the same thing happens.

“If you bring a board of Directors that are contractors and they are lucky to have a seasoned Managing Director; if at the end of the day you also appoint Executive Directors that are politically biased, what do you want the MD to do?

“So, we should also be talking of a succession program like it’s being done in vibrant  parastatals. It’s not being done in NIMASA. They bring them from nowhere, so they also get nowhere!

“The board means a lot. When you have a remarkable board, there is tendency that the board will divide into sub-committees to monitor different aspects of the organization.

“The President -elect should go back to the drawing board, to examine these parastatals board materials,  to see who should, or should not be a board member. Establishing theses boards may be the starting point; and then we can make headway!

“But, if the board is free for all, merely dictated by political, zoning, then you will get political result and zoning result!

“You can’t hold anybody responsible.
You look at the last NPA board… very ridiculous”.

He advised Buhari to target professionals, not just with certificates; but with good track records, stressing that there are currently, many professionals in Nigeria, who have nothing to offer.

He particularly frowned on the idea of swooping on the universities, to shop for “professionals” who would pilot the activities of the industry, positing that most of them would not be able to fit  in. Many of them, according to him were already jumping from one place to the other looking for money. 

He specifically advised General Buhari to zero in on core professionals, many of which he maintained could be sourced from professional bodies like the Maritime Law Association, Master Mariner Association, and Marine Engineers and Surveyors. 

“We have many professional bodies, like the Maritime Law Association; Master Mariner Association; and Marine Engineers and Surveyors”, Omoteso concluded.

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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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