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OBJ Calls For Single Currency For ECOWAS Countries



  • As Bodies of 7 Japanese return from Bangladesh

Former president, Chief  Olusegun Obasanjo, on Monday, stressed the need for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to adopt single currency (Eco) to enhance regional integration.

He said this while hosting the new president of ECOWAS Commission, Marcel Alain De Souza, at his Hilltop residence, in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.

Obasanjo said the development would engender growth in the communities with about 320 million population.

Obasanjo said: “We have decided that our unit of currency will be Eco. Let us now start using Eco and let it becomes our unit of currency.”

He promised to continue offering services for ECOWAS when duty beckoned on him to do so, adding that the over 320 million people must be developed in all areas of human endeavours.

The former president expressed displeasure over the slow rate of development being witnessed in many African countries because of internal conflict.

He said the communities lacked political will to move the sub-regional organisation forward since its establishment 41 years ago.

“Let me emphasis that 41 years ago, ECOWAS was established and the expectation of all of us was very high. I think we will not be fair to ourselves if we do not say the truth that we have not moved fast based on our expectation.

“As you have rightly said, there are issues that have come up that were not expected. I think again, we must tell ourselves the truth that there has not been enough political will on our part to move that sub-regional organisation as far as we should have done.

“We never expected that internal conflicts will engage the attention of ECOWAS as much as it has engaged our attention in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali, Guinea Bissau and Cote’d’Ivorie, just to mention but a few.

“The attention that we should have paid to the original objectives which is economic integration, economic development, socio-economic progress. We have been diverted,” he added.

Obasanjo, who is a special envoy to Guinea-Bissau on peace-keeping mission, appealed to leaders in the African continent to embrace inclusiveness as a major drive to move it forward, while maintaining that peace and security was the basic ingredient for socio-economic development.

Obasanjo said: “Of necessity, we have to pay attention to base on security. My involvement in Guinea-Bissau was an enduring involvement. I have been in that development when I was in government as president of Nigeria and ECOWAS, appointing me as special envoy that kept my involvement and my interest.

“I want to say this, that most of these conflicts, most of these causes of insecurity or breach of insecurity were because adequate attention had not been paid to what I will call inclusiveness, inclusiveness in terms of political, economic and social development of all our countries.

“Inclusiveness gender-wise, inclusiveness social-wise, inclusiveness religious-wise, inclusiveness ethnic-wise and we must appeal to our leaders in our sub-region to take these issue of inclusion seriously.”

He also raised the alarm over the rate of unemployment in the African nations, urging leaders to pay adequate attention to youth employment.

“A situation, where more than 50 per cent of our youths are unemployed, is extremely dangerous. We now have a situation in part of West Africa, where people now are dying of starvation. Is it that we are not producing enough food or are we not producing what we produce evenly? Whatever it is, it is shameful. It has led us to be begging international community for supply of food to any part of West Africa, it is not right.

“All that I have said is that you have a lot of work to do. These are jobs that will demand all your efforts, it will demand persuading our leaders to do what is right, when it is right all the time.

Earlier, the visitor commended Obasanjo on his peace-keeping effort in Guinea-Bissau and the ECOWAS community as a whole.

In the meantime, under gray skies, the bodies of the seven Japanese killed in a militant attack in Bangladesh returned to home soil early Tuesday morning.

A Japanese government plane, which had brought family members and government officials to Bangladesh to retrieve the victims, touched down at 6:50 am local time at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.

The bodies, in boxes covered with white cloth, were lowered slowly in pairs from the high cargo bay of the 747, and lined up on four-wheeled cargo pallets on the tarmac.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, Bangladesh Ambassador Rabab Fatima and other officials laid bouquets of flowers in between the boxes. Kishida said later that the cruel act of terrorism had taken precious lives. “I once again felt deep sorry and indignation,” he told reporters.

The five men and two women were among 20 hostages who died in an overnight siege that ended Saturday morning at a restaurant popular with foreigners in Dhaka, the capital city.

They were private consultants working on a Japanese government development project in Bangladesh.

Tribune with additional report from ZeeNews

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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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