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FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Nigeria Exports Religion, India Exports Cars

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The biggest country in Africa that the United Kingdom colonized is Nigeria. The biggest country that the United Kingdom colonized in Asia is India (which then comprised the present Pakistan and Bangladesh).

When the UK came into Nigeria and India, like all other countries they colonized, they brought along their technology, religion (Christianity), and culture: names, dressing, food, language, etc. Try as hard as the British did, India rejected the British religion, names, dressing, food, and even language, but they did not reject the British technology. Today, 80.5 per cent of Indians are Hindus; 13.4 per cent Muslims; 2.3 per cent Christians; 1.9 per cent Sikhs; 0.8 per cent Buddhists, etc. Hindi is the official language of the government of India, but English is used extensively in business and administration and has the status of a “subsidiary official language.” It is rare to find an Indian with an English name or dressed in suit.

On the other hand, Nigeria embraced, to a large extent, the British religion, British culture – names, dressing, foods, and language – but rejected the British technology. The difference between the Nigerian and the Indian experiences is that while India is proud of its heritage, Nigeria takes little pride in its heritage, a situation that has affected the nationalism of Nigerians and our development as a nation.

Before the advent of Christianity, the Arabs had brought Islam into Nigeria through the North. Islam also wiped away much of the culture of Northern Nigeria. Today, the North has only Sharia Courts but no Customary Courts. So from the North to the South of Nigeria, the Western World and the Eastern World have shaped our lives to be like theirs and we have lost much or all of our identity.

Long after the British and Arabs left Nigeria, Nigeria has waxed strong in religion to the extent that Nigerians now set up religious branches of their home-grown churches in Europe, the Americas, Asia and other African countries. Just like the Whites brought the gospel to us, Nigerians now take the gospel back to the Whites. In Islam, we are also very vibrant to the extent that if there is a blasphemous comment against Islam in Denmark or the US, even if there is no violent reaction in Saudi Arabia – the Islamic headquarters of the world – there will be loss of lives and destruction of property in Nigeria. If the United Arab Emirates, a country with 75 per cent Muslims, is erecting the tallest building in the world and encouraging the world to come and invest in its country by providing a friendly environment, Boko Haram ensures that the economy of the North (and by extension that of Nigeria) is crippled with bombs and bullets unless every Nigerian converts to Boko Haram’s brand of Islam. We are indeed a very religious people.

Meanwhile, while we are building the biggest churches and mosques, the Indians, South Africans, Chinese, Europeans and Americans have taken over our key markets: telecoms, satellite TV, multinationals, banking, oil and gas, automobile, aviation, shopping malls, hospitality, etc.

Ironically, despite our exploits in religion, we are a people with little godliness, a people without scruples. It is rare to do business with a Nigerian pastor, deacon, knight, elder, Brother, Sister, imam, mullah, mallam, alhaji or alhaja without the person laying landmines of bribes and deception on your path. We call it PR, facilitation fee, processing fee, transport money, financial engineering, deal, or whatever. But if it does not change hands, nothing gets done. And when it is amassed, we say it is “God’s blessings.” Some people assume that sleaze is a problem of public functionaries, but the private sector seems to be worse than the public sector these days.

One would have assumed that the more churches and mosques that spring up in every nook and cranny of Nigeria, the higher the morals in our society. But it is not so. The situation is that the more religious we get, the baser we become. Our land never knew the type of bloodshed experienced from religious extremists, political desperadoes, ritual killers, armed robbers, kidnappers, internet scammers, university cultists, and lynch mobs. Life has become so cheap and brutish that everyday seems to be a bonanza.

We import the petroleum that we have in abundance, rice and beans that our land can produce in abundance, and even toothpicks that primary school children can produce with little or no effort. Yet we drive the best of cars and live in the best of edifices, visit the best places in the world for holidays and use the most expensive electronic and telecoms gadgets. It is now a sign of poverty for a Nigerian to ride a saloon car. Four-wheel drive is it!

Even government officials, who were known to use only Peugeot cars as official cars as a sign of modesty, have upgraded to Toyota Prado, without any iota of shame, in a country where about 70 per cent live below poverty. Private jets have become as common as cars. A nation that imports toothpicks and pins flaunts wealth and wallows in ostentation at a time its children are trooping to Ghana, South Africa and the UK for university education and its sick people are running to India for treatment.

India produces automobile and exports it to the world. India’s medical care is second to none, with even Americans and Europeans travelling to the country for medical treatment. India has joined the nuclear powers. India has launched a successful mission to the moon. Yet bicycles and tricycles are common sights in India. But in Nigeria, only the wretched of the earth ride bicycles.

I have intentionally chosen to compare Nigeria with India rather than China, South Korea, Brazil, Malaysia, or Singapore, because of the similarities between India and Nigeria. But these countries were not as promising as Nigeria at the time of our independence.

Some would say that our undoing is our size: the 2012 United Nations estimate puts Nigeria’s population at 166,000 million, while India has a population of 1.2 billion. Some would blame it on the multiplicity of ethnic groups: we have 250 ethnic groups; India has more than two thousand ethnic groups. Some would hang it on the diversity in religion: we have two major religions – Christianity and Islam; but India has many. Some would say it is because we are young as an independent nation: we have 52 years of independence; India has 65 years, while apartheid ended in South Africa only in 1994.

I am a Christian, and nothing can change me from Christianity. But I think that our country is daily sinking into religiosity to the detriment of godliness. Our land is sick and needs healing. “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” is still a saying that is germane to our current situation. We need more godliness than religion; more work and less of hope; and more action and less of words.

Let everyone tidy up his or her corner first and demand fervently that our leaders tidy their areas of governance. Our nation is degenerating at a fast pace and we need to save it now.

God’s guidance and favour needed.

—By Azuka Onwuka

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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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