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Obama, Cameron, others praise Buhari, Jonathan, Jega



GLOBAL leaders and organisations have congratulated Nigerians, especially the President-elect, Maj.Gen. Muhammadu Buhari(retd.), President Goodluck Jonathan and the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, for the successful conduct of Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly polls.

They said in separate statements on Wednesday that the orderly conduct of Nigerians during the elections and the acceptance of defeat by Jonathan were remarkable.

The leaders and organisations are the United States President Barack Obama; the United Kingdom Prime Minister, David Cameron; French President, Francois Hollande; South African President Jacob Zuma; United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the European Union,   the ECOWAS Election Observation Mission,   the African Union and the Commonwealth.

Obama, in a statement by the White House, said that INEC and Jega deserved a special recognition, both nationally and internationally.

Commending Jonathan for conceding defeat and Buhari for emerging victorious, he urged them to ensure a peaceful transition.

Obama said,   “The last few days have shown the world the strength of Nigeria’s commitment to democratic principles. By turning out in large numbers and sometimes waiting all day to cast their votes, Nigerians came together to decide the future of their country peacefully.

“I commend President   Jonathan and the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, for their public commitments to non-violence throughout the campaign.”

Obama noted that Jonathan placed Nigeria’s interests first by conceding the election and congratulating the President-elect on his victory.

He added, “I urge President-elect Buhari and President Jonathan to repeat their calls to their supporters to continue to respect the election outcomes, focus on unifying the country, and together lead Nigeria through a peaceful transition.”

Concerning the efforts of Jega in keeping the poll free, fair and credible, Obama said, “Nigeria’s INEC and its Chairman, Attahiru Jega, deserve special recognition for what independent international observers have deemed a largely peaceful and orderly vote.

“I commend INEC for its extensive efforts to increase the credibility and transparency of the electoral process.”

However, the US president urged Jega and INEC to improve its performance ahead of April 11 elections.

Obama said, “Looking ahead to the governorship elections on April 11, it is imperative that national attention turn to ensuring isolated logistical challenges are overcome and peace is protected, even in the most hotly contested races.

“On behalf of the American people, I extend congratulations to the people of Nigeria and to President-elect Buhari and look forward to continuing to work with the newly-elected government on our many shared priorities.”

Also,   Cameron     in a statement on said, ‘‘I send my warmest congratulations to General Buhari on being elected as Nigeria’s next President.

“This election has been a credit to the Nigerian people and a truly historic moment for Nigerian democracy.

“The UK remains a steadfast partner for Nigeria as it realises its potential as Africa’s economic powerhouse and works to tackle terrorism in the region.”

President Hollande on his part welcomed the commitment of Nigerians and the quality of work of INEC towards the success of the polls.

A statement from the French Embassy in Abuja on Wednesday, said that Hollande would speak with Buhari on Thursday(today), adding that he intended to establish with Buhari the trustful relations France had with   Jonathan.

The President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma,   congratulated   Buhari on his emergence as the President-elect and   Jonathan for his leadership and commitment to “consolidating democracy, peace and stability in Nigeria.”

To Zuma, Jonathan’s action was indicative of his readiness and commitment to ensuring a smooth transfer of power with a view to ensuring that Nigeria did not experience violence.

The UN Secretary-General,   Ki-moon, congratulated Buhari     and called on all Nigerians to accept the outcome of the elections.

A statement   by the UN said, “The Secretary-General talked to President   Jonathan and Maj. Gen. Buhari.

“He congratulated President-elect Buhari and commended President Jonathan for his leadership throughout the electoral process and his statesmanship in upholding the democratic process.

“The Secretary-General believes the successful conduct of these polls is a testament to the maturity of Nigeria’s democracy.”

Ban hoped that the same democratic spirit will prevail in the conduct of the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections on April 11.

Also, the Head of ECOWAS Election Observation Mission, former Ghanaian President John Kuffuor , and   the African Union and the Commonwealth congratulated Nigeria’s National Peace Committee for its work.

They called on Nigerians to carry through the entire electoral process the maturity and discipline displayed during the presidential and National Assembly elections.

At a meeting in Abuja, Kuffuor and the AU Observer Mission Chief, former Liberian leader, Prof. Amos Sawyer, and head of the Commonwealth poll observers,   Bakili Muluzi,   advised the Abdulsalami Abubakar-led committee to continue to build trust and confidence for peaceful coexistence during the post-election period.

They said, “Elections are about governance and our prayer is that Nigerian political parties, their candidates and teeming supporters will accept the results of the elections, with the winner showing magnanimity and the runner-up showing cooperation.”

The EU High Representative and Vice-President, Federica Mogherini, in a statement thanked   Jonathan for his contribution to consolidating Nigeria’s democracy over the past five years.



WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners



…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



The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured



…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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