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FG begs workers to shelve planned strike

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  • As Buhari begs lawyers to support anti-graft war

The Federal Government has appealed to workers’ unions to shelve their proposed strike over the new petrol price of N145 per litre.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the appeal at an interactive session with journalists in Abuja on Monday.

Mohammed said the new price was introduced for the country to survive as government could no longer afford the foreign exchange spent by the NNPC to import petrol.

According to him, the nation’s earnings had dropped to about 550 million dollars because of the fall in the price of crude oil, and government needed about that amount to import fuel.

“If we continue along this line, we will get to a point where the country will be completely broke.
“That is why this policy has become absolutely necessary and we have no option.
“We are therefore seeking the understanding of all Nigerians and appealing to the organised labour to sheathe their sword.
“This is not the time for any action that will further worsen the economy. The situation is dire, not just in Nigeria but elsewhere around the world”, he said.

Mohammed gave the instance of United Arab Emirates, which had announced that fuel prices would be deregulated with effect from Aug. 1, 2016.
He added that in response to fiscal pressure caused by the fall in crude oil prices, OPEC’s top oil producer – Saudi Arabia – had announced a plan to raise fuel prices.

The minister assured that the suffering brought about by the new price regime would be for a very short time.
“It is only going to be a temporary hardship because with the discipline of this government and political will, things will be put in shape.
“The moment we liberalise and open the market up, there will be competition and the price will come down and there will be petrol glot”, he said.
The minister noted that government was working hard to ensure that the refineries which are already working, worked to optimum capacity.
In addition, he said government had opened bids inviting people to invest in modular refineries to be located close to existing major ones for access to crude.

He said the modular refineries were expected to refine 650,000 barrels of crude a day while the refinery under construction by the business mogul, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, would also refine 750,000 barrels of crude daily.
Mohammed said that with all these in place, Nigeria would become a net exporter of fuel and other petroleum products by 2019.

He said in order to cushion the immediate effects of the new price regime, government had put in place a number of palliatives which were captured in the 2016 budget.
“The entire 2016 Budget is packed with palliatives.
“Some 500,000 billion naira has been set aside for social intervention that will touch the lives of millions of Nigerians and lift millions more out of poverty.
“Five hundred thousand graduates are to be employed and trained as teachers and 370,000 non-graduates (artisans, technicians) will be trained and employed.
“Also, 1.6 million people (farmers, market women, etc) to be granted loans to set up small businesses and Conditional Cash Transfer will be made to the most vulnerable people.
“There is also school feeding targeting 5.5 million school children as well as Bursaries/Scholarships for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) students”, he said.

The minister said government carried along critical stakeholders before announcing the new price regime.
He said the issue was discussed at a meeting a week ago and was attended by representatives of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress, PENGASSAN, and NUPENG.
Mohammed said the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, Deputy President of Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, Governors and Ministers were also present at the meeting.

In the meantime, President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday begged lawyers to support the anti-corruption war of the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government.

Buhari said this at the Kaduna branch of the Nigerian Bar Association’s Law Week with the theme, “The fight against corruption: the role of the Bar and the Bench,” in Kaduna.

The President was represented on the occasion by his Senior Special Adviser on Legal Matters, Prof. Adamu Usman,

He reminded the lawyers how some of their colleagues almost frustrated a similar crusade he embarked upon as the military Head of State in 1984.

He noted that his second coming should receive the necessary support from lawyers to succeed so that the country would be rid of corruption.

In his keynote address, Usman told his colleagues that history would remain unkind to them if they failed to do everything possible to rid the nation of corruption, saying that “whenever history repeats itself, it carries vengeance and calamity in its fist and teeth.”

He also urged the lawyers to play their part in ensuring that corruption was kicked out of the country, “the way the military is pushing out Boko Haram insurgency and other security challenges out of the country.”

He said,  “In Buhari’s first coming, the Bar in particular was not very helpful to his anti-corruption crusade. They boycotted the Special Military Tribunals for the Recovery of Public Property set up by his then government on the grounds that the tribunals were chaired by soldiers instead of judges, the lawyers’ preferred chairmen.

“Only Gani Fawehinmi of blessed memory and a few other senior lawyers broke the rank with their colleagues by supporting the tribunals and participating in their trials.

“Now the same Buhari is back again on the saddle locking horns once more with the hydra-headed monster called corruption.

“When in 1984 we refused to support his anti-corruption war, we saw what corruption eventually did to the country.

“It may even do worse now if by our lack of cooperation and support, the current anti-corruption war is once more lost.

“I strongly feel we should give the current anti-corruption fight a chance of success by supporting it. History should not repeat itself because from my knowledge of history repeating itself, whenever it repeats itself, it carries vengeance and calamity in its fist and teeth.”

Meanwhile, the National Vice-Chairman (South) of the APC, Hilliard Eta, has said the President Buhari-led administration is taking tough decisions required to lay a solid foundation for Nigeria’s future.

He said this in Abuja, on Monday.

According to him, the party has within the last one year put in place a new template for national growth.

The party chieftain appealed to Nigerians to show greater understanding because the change the party promised was not going to happen in a day.

Eta noted that within the last one year, the APC government had succeeded in taming the Boko Haram monster and improving the nation’s security.

He said, “We all know how much this government has achieved in curbing insurgency in the North-East and even the international community has accepted the fact that this government has done so much in the area of dealing with Boko Haram insurgency in the North-Eeast and in security of the nation in general.

“In the area of corruption, except one is blind, government has been sincere not just by mouthing the war against corruption, but actually doing what is actually necessary to curb corruption. First, by living by example because the saying goes that when a fish is getting bad, it starts from the head.

“So, living by example and making sure that whoever is caught to have dip his hands into the treasury are prosecuted. On the economy which is what everybody is complaining about today because of the hardship; we campaigned for change and not a miracle. For change to take place, there has to be a gestation period while miracle is instant because it is divine.

“I know that Nigerians are impatient. Even if you want to build a beautiful edifice, you must first lay the foundation. This government has laid the foundation for the take-off of the economic boom that we must necessarily bring to Nigerians because that is what we promised.”

He stressed that the people of the South-South were at the verge of experiencing unprecedented development the type that eluded the zone in the last 16 years the Peoples Democratic Party held sway.

Upshot 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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