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May 29 Handover: No facts from Jonathan on fuel crisis – Buhari

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The president-elect, General Mohammadu Buhari, yesterday, lamented that the out-going administration of President Goodluck Jonathan has failed to provide the in-coming government with all the necessary information needed for a smooth take-off next week, particularly on how to tackle the current fuel scarcity in the country.

The President-elect spoke on a day the Senate directed its committees on Petroleum Resources ( Upstream and Downstream ) to immediately commence investigation into the remote and immediate causes of the fuel crisis in the country.

The Senate directive was sequel to the motion by the Deputy Senate Majority Leader, Senator Abdul Ningi, who had called on the lawmakers to pay serious attention to the fuel crisis that had created great hardship for Nigerians at the moment. Senator Ningi wondered why a country that has abundant oil resources should face the kind of biting scarcity that had increased the suffering of Nigerians.

But the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary, noted that since the Deputy Senate Leader raised the motion under personal explanation, the senate would not debate it but would rather approve his prayers.

Senator Ekweremadu said: “Ningi’s prayers are simple and straightforward. He is asking us, as representatives of the people, to direct our committees on upstream and downstream, to find out what is currently going on in the oil sector and possibly find a way of addressing it.

“In that regard, we now ask our committees on Petroleum Resources ( Upstream and Downstream), to find out what is going on and what the government is doing about it and report back on Tuesday next week. That is our wish”

Meanwhile, General Buhari, who spoke when the APC Transition Committee headed by Ambassador Ahmed Joda submitted an interim report of the committee to him, also said the out-going government misunderstood the terms of reference of the committee, thinking he was already running a parallel government.

Ahmed Joda had earlier told General Buhari that the government committee headed by Vice-President Namadi Sambo refused to provide his committee with necessary information to make better decisions.

According to Joda, the committee had to rely on its initiative and assistance from the organized private sector, the Lagos Business School, international development partners and members of the public to draw up a plan.

The committee’s mission

In his response, Buhari stated that the aim of the committee was not to indict anyone, but to make adequate preparations for the task ahead.

He said: “The in-coming government was misunderstood. It is not that we are preparing for indictment. What we are trying to get is a starting point, where exactly we are going to start from.

“We have seen the debt profile now and the performance of the economy. The question is, what can we do about it especially the urgent ones like social security, lack of fuel in the country and fraud? The list is endless. I thank you for what you have done and I hope that the subsequent submission by the government will make your job easier and more efficient and tell us where to begin from.

“What we expected was for the out-going government to make a presentation to this committee and for this committee to study the document and make submission to the in-coming government.

“For your simple mindedness, you went to work. But unfortunately, this committee was accused of running a parallel government. From then on, this committee was constrained to take this initiative and break into various sub-committees and assigned various tasks to study the most important issues nationwide and see what they can put on record.

Commendation for Joda committee

“I thank you very much for this effort which you have made and I want to assure you that we will find time to read your initial report and when the government decides to finally present to you their own records, you will study them and merge with the report of the various committees and present to the in-coming government.

“My expectation was that each ministry will make its own presentations. The politicians know that they are going, while the bureaucrats who do the jobs know they are staying.

“They are the ones who are going to do the job and they are going to be available to help cross-check the information. I think that this research you have made will help the incoming government to cross-check the information on paper given by the outgoing government”.

While making the presentation earlier, Joda said that though the Federal Government did not make any input in the interim report, the committee was expecting government report today, stressing that availability of useful tips from the government would tremendously help in the final report of the committee.

Buhari thanks Jonathan again

Meanwhile, General Buhari has again commended President Goodluck Jonathan for conceding defeat at the March 28 polls and averting crisis in the country.

Buhari, who gave the commendation in Abuja, yesterday, when he received Nigerien President Issoufou Mahamadou, said Presient Jonathan’s action turned around Nigeria’s nervous political process.

He said: “The Nigerien president purposely came to congratulate me on my victory and President Jonathan for the maturity and statesmanship that he exhibited by accepting that he had lost the election.

“His action actually doused tensions and averted crisis in Nigeria.

“Not only Africa but the world has commended the President for that because if he had disputed the elections, there would have been crisis in the country.

“That is what people don’t want, not only Nigerians but other countries. So, he came to commend President Jonathan for his courage and statesmanship.”

Buhari added that the Nigerien president had also come to show solidarity and acknowledge Nigeria’s importance on the continent.

He said that but for colonialism, Niger and Nigeria and all countries living along the border were one as they shared similar cultures, religions and mannerisms.

Nigeria’s importance in Africa

“As he rightly puts it, if Nigeria sneezes, the rest of Africa catches cold because of its importance, population and resources.

“So, Nigeria and Niger Republic are one entity as one singer from Niger puts it in his lyrics. We share a 1,500 kilometre-long border with Niger which stretches from Chad to Sokoto, and all the people living along the borders on either sides are same people.

“The colonialists separated these people when they partitioned Africa at the Berlin conference in 1885. They separated the Fulanis, Kanuris and the Hausas from their brothers who are presently in Niger.

“They separated the Yorubas of Nigeria and the ones in Benin Republic. They also separated the Fulanis and other tribes who were living together as one along the Cameroon border.

“So, all these countries around us were a single entity with people of similar culture and religion before they became separated but time has changed and we thank him for reminding us of our history of brotherhood.”

Why I visited Nigeria—Mahammadou

Earlier, Mahammadou said he was in Nigeria to convey the gratitude and salutation of Niger Republic for the peaceful conduct of the elections held in spite of challenges.

“President Jonathan conceded defeat and this act will have a lasting impact and influence on politics in Africa, West Africa and Africa at large.”

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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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