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IBB fumes over hate campaigns against retired generals

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Former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, yesterday described as callous and wicked the attempt by promoters of President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election bid to undermine the military institution by embarking on mudslinging campaigns against former presidents and leaders of military background.

General Babangida, who spoke while referring to an alleged one- hour documentary aired by Silverbird Television on Tuesday night; March 24, 2015 in a statement issued by his media office in Minna, the Niger State capital, said President Jonathan’s campaign handlers were out to demonize and stigmatize former military leaders and cast aspersions on them in order to malign their reputation.

He said the documentary “deliberately impugned the integrity of Generals Olusegun Obasanjo, Muhammadu Buhari, my humble self; Ibrahim Babangida, late Sani Abacha, Abdulsalami Abubakar, and T.Y Danjuma; all of whom have had the privilege of presiding over the affairs of this great country at various levels. It is either that those promoting the hate documentary are intellectually delinquent or they suffer memory loss; or a combination of both.”

“Apart from promoting hate campaign, which clearly undermines the modest contributions of these former presidents, the commentaries in the documentary against the former presidents leave a sour taste in the mouth,” he said.

According to the statement “In clear attempts to whip up support for President Goodluck Jonathan, certain persons, groups and individuals have embarked on several campaigns of calumny against former military Heads of State and presidents who have had the opportunity to govern this country.

“Of particular reference is a one-hour documentary aired on Silverbird Television on Tuesday night; 24th March, 2015 that deliberately impugned the integrity of Generals Olusegun Obasanjo, Muhammadu Buhari, my humble self; Ibrahim Babangida, late Sani Abacha, Abdulsalami Abubakar, and T.Y Danjuma; all of whom have had the privilege of presiding over the affairs of this great country at various levels. It is either that those promoting the hate documentary are intellectually delinquent or they suffer memory loss; or a combination of both.

“I have my very strong reservations about the contents and thematic focus of the said documentary. Apart from promoting hate campaign which clearly undermines the modest contributions of these former presidents, the commentaries in the documentary against the former presidents leave a sour taste in the mouth.

“Nobody is stopping anyone from campaigning for their preferred candidates contesting various positions in the elections, but to do that at the expense of the reputation, contributions, patriotism, loyalty and sacrifice of former presidents to the Nigerian state is, to say the least, immature.

“For record purposes, and without sounding immodest, the idea of a PDP that has now become the “largest party in Africa” started in my home, here in Minna. With the support of my fellow colleagues, we prepared the way for this democratic process that has now led us to where we are presently. We built the democratic infrastructure.

“Those who are parading themselves as democrats today, all participated in military governments. As a deliberate principle of remaining unsung, or blowing my own trumpet, I have elected over the years to maintain dignified silence on so many issues concerning Nigeria while I cultivate my access to each sitting President to pass across my advice in whatever form.

“It is on record and this is incontrovertible that the government I ran paraded some of the best brains this country can be proud of. I still remain eternally grateful to those wonderful brains who participated in our government to fashion a new roadmap for re-engineering the country.

“Some of our policies have remained unsurpassed till date and most of what the country enjoys today was a creation of the Military. From primary healthcare to good roads, DFRRI, Better Life for Rural Women, housing, river basin authorities, MAMSER, new airports, agricultural development and other economic infrastructure, to mention but a few, were platforms where our interventions were felt.

“We achieved that much with very slim resources. If we had the several billions of dollars that are flying around today, we would have turned Nigeria to the Dubai of Africa.

“The military is an institution that is so dear to my heart. It is an institution that nurtured my growing up and my achievements in life. I am not only sold to the military institution and by extension the Nigerian state, I am betrothed to it.

“As a profession, retirees are bound to participate in politics and democracy as an all-inclusive process, same way that Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers, Nurses, and Civil Servants get involved in it. It is the reason why I ventured into politics in 2003 before I quit in 2010. It is the same reason why General Obasanjo participated and got elected; and now General Buhari.

“It is therefore very curious that promoters of President Goodluck Jonathan’s aspiration would attempt to demonize and stigmatize former military leaders and cast aspersions on them in order to malign their reputation. This is very unfair. “Fact is; the military fought a civil war to keep this country together. What I suffer today is a consequence of the injuries I sustained during the Nigeria Civil War. I am not sure there is any patriotism that is more than that. Some of us were prepared to die for the country.

“The military is presently combating the dreaded Boko Haram sect to restore Nigeria’s territorial integrity. What law under a democracy forbids retired military personnel from participating in politics and presenting themselves for election?

“Over 90 percent of American Presidents have military background. Leadership training is better grounded in the military than any other profession. And the military parades some of the best brains in any country, including Nigeria. In fact, some of my military students that I tutored have Doctorate Degrees.

“It is therefore callous, wicked, out-of-sync, cynical and a show of crass ignorance for anyone to undermine the military institution by embarking on mudslinging campaigns against former presidents and leaders of military background. While those campaigners are pointing their accusing fingers at us, they forget to recall that the present Director-General of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organization is actually a retired Military Officer.

“It is this form of demonization and stigmatization that often compels us to exhibit espirit de corps amongst ourselves in support of our military institution and colleagues when the stakes are high. As disciplined military officers, we are patriotic Nigerians and must be treated with utmost respect and decorum.”

 The Citizen 

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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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