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Nigeria Losing Billions, Over NPA Disobedience To Presidential Directive

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  • As Presidency declares why recovered loot can’t be made public yet

In spite of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo foresight and approval designating the Kirikiri Lighter Terminal phase 2 as a consolidated fishing terminal, the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has consistently stopped the terminal from being used as a fishing terminal.

The idea which was conceptualized during the port concessioning period by Obasanjo was to make Nigeria a fishing hub in Africa.

IMG_20160317_154519But the authority had refused to vacate the place to allowed it to be used as a consolidated fishing terminal as directed by the ex-President in 2007.

NPA which concessioned the Lagos Port, Tin Can Island Port still held on to Kirikiri Lighter Terminal, Phase 2 after it had been directed to hand it over to fishing companies.

The brilliant idea was conceived and sold to President Obasanjo by the leadership of fishing trawler Owner Association under Barr. Margaret Orakwusi to boost the nation’s fishing sector.

Specifically, NPA management shortcomings may not only has shortchanged Nigeria in the area of employment alone but also poses dire security consequences especially in the face of insecurity in the country.

Further investigation had shown that because of this particular NPA shortcomings, Nigerian has become a playing ground for marouding and ghost ships particularly of foreign origin who in addition to aiding piracy also deplete our fishing resources via illegal poaching.

Fishing which used to be the second largest Nigeria revenue earner after oil had been allowed to die by the disobedience of NPA management to the directive of the Federal Government.

A visit to the KLT, phase two by our correspondent showed a dilapidated and deserted terminal instead of a bolstering terminal stacked with empty Containers.

The terminal which was supposed to be a fishing hub in West Africa was filled with rubbles of dilapidated, distressed buildings that were occupied by few companies who struggle to break even due to NPA disobedience to superior directive.

Speaking to our correspondent on the issue, a former president, Nigerian Trawler Owners Association (NITOA) Margaret Onyema-Orakwusi, has called on Nigerian government to revive the fish trawling sector.

She expressed disappointment that the sector which was once ranked second among non-oil export foreign exchange earners for the country is now nowhere on the scale because of selfish activities of Nigeria leaders.

Orakwusi lamented that the sector has been on a downward spiral because of the activities of sea pirates.

Her words; “A couple of years ago, we had about 38 companies involved in deep sea fishing. Right now, we are less than 9. Nigeria had over 200 trawlers that was our fleet, right now; we don’t have up to a 100. And we used to rank number two in the non-oil export foreign exchange earners for the country. I don’t even bother to ask for the statistics now. It is a business that has been left to die.”

She stated that the sector has lost already lots of investments, vessels and seamen,  noting that investors are now closing shop in Nigeria because they have no conducive environment to operate.

“Nigeria’s loss is gain for other African countries because what investors did was just simply to relocate their investments and operations to other countries”,  she noted further,  warning of the enormous economic loss this trend portends and called on government to exert itself on rebuilding the sector.”

In the meantime, the cash recovered from former public officers under probe by anti-graft agencies will not be made public yet because it will be used as evidence against them in court, the Presidency said yesterday.

Presidential spokesman Mallam Garba Shehu said much as President Muhammadu Buhari would have liked to let Nigerians know how much has been recovered, it will be impossible for now.

He said the money recovered is in the vaults of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), adding that “the issue of how much has been returned has been there. The money retrieved has to be used as evidence in court. The President said two things; we will recover and we will prosecute. So, as it is now, you don’t go and bring all these billions returned out.

“I am aware that there is an account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) where some of these funds are being kept and are evidence for a judge to see. It is not for public display. I think that is the challenge we have at the moment.”

Shehu said Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will soon hit the road travelling around the country to address town hall meetings, explaining government policies and actions. The town hall meetings, he said, will hold in the first instance at zonal levels before going down to state capitals.

Shehu said: “ Government realises that there is a need to take information to the people and there are steps that are being taken in order to ensure that this is done.”

Explaining the delay in the reconstituting government agencies, Shehu said President Buhari wanted to be fair to every chief executive of government agencies. “If he wanted to fire people on assumption of office, he would have done it and would not have violated any rule. But he decided to give everyone a chance to see whether they would imbibe the change mantra, and  be prepared to come along.”

He said with offices in the 774 local governments and state offices, the National Orientation Agency (NOA) needed to do more to enlighten Nigerians on the government’s policies.

“I will say with all sincerity that I know that the NOA has worried us in government. The people and the leadership never believed in what we are doing; they never believed in change and so, they just folded their arms and watched us in the last eight to nine months. When they are there, I believe the new leadership will begin to formulate things for agencies like that.”

While admitting that the government needs to do more in public enlightenment, Shehu said “to be fair to Minister of Information Lai Mohammed, I have never seen somebody as hardworking as that gentleman even as minister.  You find out that he doesn’t miss the talk shows on radio, from one radio station to another and then he will move to a television station, to a newspaper and all of that.

“I believe that more needs to be done. I agree with you. We have an agency like NOA with 774 offices nationwide; each has not less than five to seven officials and well-equipped. But you know also, sometimes democracy has its own dark side.”

On the fight against insurgency, Shehu congratulated Nigerians on the achievements so far recorded by the Buhari administration, adding that at the moment, no city in the country is under curfew, while military road blocks have been dismantled.

He said the biggest challenge facing the government in the fight against insurgency is rebuilding damaged facilities, adding that now that the budget has been passed into law, the much- expected implementation of the government’s campaign promises will begin to unfold.

“So, in effect, money available will be spent from the moment the budget is signed. I believe that those who have fasted can now begin to enjoy, I mean money would be unleashed into the country and there would be a lot of activities that would go forth the moment the budget is signed”, he said.

Speaking on alleged secret recruitment by some government agencies, Shehu said: “ I would stay out of this because I know that the parliament is investigating this and I believe we should wait for the outcome of the investigation  by the House of Representatives.

“I have been approached by a number of people who say ‘can you give me a note to so or so agency?’ A lot is happening in this country and I keep saying that Buhari’s government is not a government of notes. I guess that whoever is found doing that would get himself in trouble. He is not a nepotist and I think you know that.

“So, I think that the parliament should be allowed to look into it. I have personally called one of these agencies mentioned to ask whether it is true that they are recruiting and he said no, but the parliament can call for any documents and testimonies from anybody and they can determine whether it is true .”

 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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