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Nigeria, wealthy nation with poor citizens –EU

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• Charges President-elect on galvanising population      • ‘Governance, living standards only meaningful indices to common man’     • Supports ECOWAS integration with €1.2bn

The European Union (EU) has described Nigeria as a rich country with poor citizens, urging the incoming government of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari to galvanise the country’s massive population into a formidable productive force that would generate wealth, which can be equitably distributed among the citizens.

Speaking at the occasion of the Europe Day on Friday night in Abuja, the Head of Delegation of the EU to Nigeria, Ambassador Michel Arrion, said the Buhari-led government would have a lot of work to do in this regard. According to him, democracy only makes meaning to the common man to the extent that it delivers good governance, creates opportunities and improves the quality of living.

Checks by Newswatch Times showed that Nigeria currently has an estimated population of 167 million with a Gross Domestic Product/Income per Capita last recorded at $1, 097.97 in 2013. The GDP per Capita in the country is equivalent to nine per cent of the world’s average.

On the other hand, South Africa has a recorded population of about 54 million, while its Gross Domestic Product/ Income per Capita was last recorded at $5,916.46 in 2013.

Moreover, the GDP per Capita in South Africa is equivalent to 47 per cent of the world’s average. Arrion, therefore, charged that “as the new government comes on stream, the world would want to see a Nigeria where the basic freedoms that distinguish democratic societies, including economic rights and welfare, are not the exclusive preserve of a privileged few.”

He said: “Nigeria is rich, but Nigerians are poor. The in-coming administration will have a lot to do in this regard, in ensuring that Nigeria’s massive population is galvanised into a formidable productive force that will generate wealth that is equally – or rather equitably – shared among all citizens.”

The envoy, who noted that Buhari’s goals for Nigeria matched closely the EU’s vision for the country, also advised the President-elect to include regional integration in his agenda.

“President-elect Buhari has promised before and after his election to pursue three priority objectives: to swiftly end the insurgency in the northeast and restore peace and stability; to eradicate corruption and to put policies in place and to put Nigeria’s economy on a surer footing. We strongly believe that peace and stability, as well as the economic development of Nigeria, will be better achieved within the framework of a closer and deeper co-operation of Nigeria with its neighbours in West and Central Africa,” Arrion said.

The head of the delegation, who said that the essence of the Europe Day was to commemorate past achievements, and to look ahead at how the future can be shaped, explained that its essence was also to promote peace, human rights and prosperity at home and in the world. He assured Nigeria of the EU’s continued strong relation of mutual trust and partnership.

Meanwhile, the European Union has also announced that it is supporting the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with 1.2 billion Euros as part of the effort to assist on its Regional Indicative Programme designed for integration process.

The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, made this known while fielding questions from journalists during the occasion to mark the Europe Day in Abuja. Ouedraogo, who congratulated the EU on the celebration, described it as one of the most privileged partners of West Africa.

“We congratulate Europe for this unity, and certainly Europe is a strong and special partner for ECOWAS. They are supporting us in the integration process and they help us on what is called ‘Regional Indicative Programme.’ It was a programme of about 6oo million Euros, and now it has doubled to go to 1.2 billion Euros for the ECOWAS region or an Indicative Regional Programme,” he said.

The ECOWAS president explained that the aid was besides other support being rendered to individual member states. He said the regional body will, on January 1, 2016, begin the implementation of the ECOWAS Biometric Identity Card, which will allow all West African citizens to move freely through Africa without any other paper. He said this is one of the policies ECOWAS learnt from the EU, and it is trying to implement in the region.

“Certainly we have a lot of lessons to learn from EU, especially on this policy of uniting the people. For instance, the EU has a policy whereby the citizens can move freely throughout Europe. So we also in West Africa plan to establish a common standard of immigration policy. This is what we intend to do by instituting what we call the ECOWAS Biometric Identity Card, which will come into force in the 1st January of 2016, and will allow all West African citizens to move freely through Africa without any other paper.

“So this is the lesson, for instance, we have learnt from Europe, and we are implementing it very fast. And of course, Europe has had success in areas of industrial development, agriculture, and we want to learn from what they have succeeded in, and also learn where they fail so that we can be a strong West Africa based on their experience. Indeed, they are cooperating fully with us, in partnership,” Ouedraogo said.

Newswatch Times

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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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