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Fayose asks China to stop $2bn loan to Nigeria

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  • As NLC seeks stoppage of double pay for ex-governors, others

The Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, has written to the Chinese Government, seeking the stoppage of the $2bn loan being sought by the Federal Government.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to China this week was to discuss the development of the country’s infrastructure, including a $2bn loan for railway projects.

But Fayose in his letter to President Xi Jinping of China said Nigerians were “totally opposed to increment of the country’s debt burden, which is already being serviced with 25 per cent of the Federal Government annual budget.

“The government of China should be mindful of the fact that Nigerians, irrespective of their political and religious affiliations, are totally opposed to increment of the country’s debt burden, which is already being serviced with 25 per cent of the Federal Government annual budget.”

In the April 12 letter with reference number EK/GOV/28/10, which was delivered by Fayose’s Chief of Staff, Dipo Anisulowo, in Abuja on Thursday, to the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Gu Xiaojie, the governor said some of the projects for which the loan was being sought were not captured in the 2016 budget.

Anisulowo, who was accompanied by the Deputy Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Segun Adewumi; the Chairman of the House Committee on Information, Gboyega Aribisogan; the Chairman of the House Committee on Health, Dr. Samuel Omotosho; and the Special Assistant to the Governor on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, said Fayose, who is in China, “will also deliver a copy of the letter directly to the Chinese President.”

The letter partly read, “I write as one of the major stakeholders in the project Nigeria, and a governor of one of the federating units making up Nigeria, to draw your attention to report that the Federal Government of Nigeria is on the verge of obtaining a $2bn loan from the Export-Import Bank of China.

“This $2bn loan is part of the N1.84tn the Federal Government of Nigeria has proposed to borrow to finance the 2016 budget, which is yet to be signed by the President, Muhammadu Buhari, owing to unending controversies between the Executive and the Legislative arms of government.

“According to reports, Nigeria desires to raise about $5bn abroad to cover part of its 2016 budget deficit. This is projected to hit N3tn ($15bn) due to heavy infrastructure spending at a time when the slump in global oil prices has slashed the country’s export revenues.

“While conceding that all nations, especially developing ones, need support to be able to grow because no nation is an island, I am constrained to inform you that if the future of Nigeria must be protected, the country does not need any loan at this time.

“The government of China should be mindful of the fact that Nigerians, irrespective of their political and religious affiliations, are totally opposed to increment of the country’s debt burden, which is already being serviced with 25 per cent of the Federal Government annual budget.”

In the meantime, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday urged former governors and their deputies drawing both pension and salary to refund such money.

The congress argued that it was illegal and immoral to collect double pay from the public coffer.

In a statement by its President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, the congress said state laws legalising such acts should be repealed.

The NLC asked the Federal Government to act in the spirit of its fight against corruption by not only ensuring these ill-gotten payments were refunded, it should ensure that no governor ever create for themselves such criminal advantages.

The statement, entitled: “No double salary for any public officer”, reads: “We are saddened by revelations that not less than 21 governors and deputy governors are senators or ministers and drawing billions of naira in pension payment and salaries (at the same time) while millions of wage earners go without salaries for months on end.

“Our revulsion stems from the fact that most, if not all of these ex-governors, coerced or seduced their Houses of Assembly into approving for them these bogus and illegitimate pension rates and property (as cars and houses) in contravention of the extant laws and regulations by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission.

“Similarly, they are mindlessly drawing these allowances (that they do not need) from our commonwealth when the states are in serious financial difficulty and poverty is rife in the land.  They get paid regularly whether the state can afford it nor not.”

“We demand that all citizens be treated equally in furtherance of their fundamental rights.

“We also demand that the Federal Government in the spirit of its fight against corruption not only ensure these ill-gotten payments are refunded forthwith, it should ensure no governor ever create for themselves such criminal advantages. Nobody is above the law.

“We have no doubt that these illegal “severance” payments running into billions of Naira, if released into the system, will significantly uplift the quality of the life of the citizenry,” it said.

Punch with additional report from Nation

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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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