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Public funds: Negotiate, return your loot in peace – Pres. Buhari tells looters

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  • Tells IPOB, militants: Nigeria must remain one

President Muhammadu Buhari has told looters of country’s treasury to negotiate and return the money which does not belong to them and be in peace.

He made the assertion on Wednesday, while receiving Sallah homage paid on him by some residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), led by the minister, Bello Mohammed, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. According to him, Nigeria was seriously in need of the stolen funds to uplift the quality of life of its citizens.

“Please tell those with plenty of money which does not belong to them should try and negotiate and return it in peace, so that both they and us will be in peace. Otherwise, we will continue to look for it.”

He signaled that he was comfortable with negotiated refund of money stolen from the public treasury and, therefore, advised all that may be in possession of public funds to explore the opportunity or face the consequences.

The president also warned the militants should be told that the unity of Nigeria was not negotiable. He cited a quote from a former head of state, General Yakubu Gowon, that “to keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done.”

The president appealed to Niger Delta militants to give Nigeria a chance and desist from sabotaging oil and gas facilities in the region, just as he assured that justice would be done in terms of what was due to the area.

“On security, we have made a lot of improvement. We are now concentrating on the militants to know how many of them in terms of groupings, leadership and plead with them to try and give Nigeria a chance. “I assure them of the saying by General Gowon that to keep Nigeria is a task that must be done.

“Those days, we never thought of oil. All we were concerned about was one Nigeria. “So, please, pass this across to the militants, that one Nigeria is not negotiable and they had better accept.

“Nigerian constitution is clear as to what they should get and I assure them there will be justice,” he said. The president noted the problems which had continued to beset the country and expressed confidence that the agricultural sector would soon bounce back to enable the country feed itself. According to him, “I know that there are a lot of problems in the country, but it’s unfortunate the Minister of Agriculture is not here, he is working very hard.

“The Governor of Central Bank is helping him by lending him money outside the budget, so that he can assist states, especially those states, about 13 of them, which can produce rice. “That programme is good. It is giving us confidence; it is getting the farmers into the farm.”

In his remarks earlier, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo observed that the president had lost weight, but expressed confidence that now that the Ramadan fast was over, he would regain the lost weight. He prayed for good health for President Buhari to enable him to continue the task of rebuilding the county.

Osinbajo noted that the past one year had been tough for the government and Nigerians, because the Buhari-led administration had been busy clearing up the mess it met on ground. He, however, stressed the administration’s commitment to placing the country on a sound footing, saying: “things are already looking up.’’ He prayed that the president would continue to get the wisdom and strength to overcome all challenges facing the country.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the Minister of FCT, Alhaji Muhammed Bello and the leadership of the Presidential Villa Chapel presented Sallah greeting cards to the president. Buhari had earlier performed the ‘two-Raka’at Eid-el-Fitri prayer at the Mogadishu Mosque in Abuja. The prayer was led by the Chief Imam of the Mosque, Major Hamisu Mustapha, whose sermon centred on the need for Muslim faithful to continue to exhibit the virtues of the Ramadan fast.

In the meantime, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday sent a message to some restive groups – they should forget about Nigeria breaking up.

The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) have been attacking oil facilities. The Indigenous People of Biafra and the Movement for the Emancipation of Biafra (MASSOB) have been pushing for a Biafra State, independent of Nigeria.

But, Buhari insists that Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable.

IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu, who is also the director of the separatist and illegal Radio Biafra, is on trial for alleged treason, among other charges

The president was emphatic yesterday that anybody seeking the break-up of the country should perish the thought.

He spoke at the Presidential Villa in Abuja when Federal Capital Territory (FCT) residents paid him anEid-el-Fitri homage.

The President said the slogan in the 1970s, “Go On With One Nigeria” (GOWON), is very apt now as keeping Nigeria one is a task that must be done”.

He urged the militants to give peace a chance.

Noting that there is a lot of improvement on security in the Northeast, Buhari said the attention has now shifted to the Niger Delta.

He said: “On security, we have made a lot of improvement. There is improvement in the battle against Boko Haram. We are now concentrating on the militants to know how many of them in terms of groupings, leadership and plead with them to try and give Nigeria a chance.

“I assure them that the saying by Gen. Yakubu Gowon (a former Head of State) that ‘to keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done is still relevant.  In those days, we never thought of oil, all we were concerned about was one Nigeria. So, please pass this on to the militants – that one Nigeria is not for negotiation and they had better accept it.

“The Nigerian Constitution is clear as to what they should get and I assure them there will be justice.”

Buhari urged those with plenty of money which does not belong to them to negotiate and return it in peace.

“So that both they and us will be in peace; otherwise, we will continue to look for it,” the President added

To solve some of the problems of agriculture, he said Minister of Agriculture Audu Ogbeh was working very hard with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Governor Godwin Emefiele to ensure that 13 states start rice production..

According to him, the programme is good and giving the country confidence while many farmers are already going back to the field.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said the past one year had been tough, adding that  the administration was busy clearing the mess it met.

He stressed the administration’s commitment  to placing the country on a sound footing, acknowledging that things were already looking up.

Minister of FCT Mohammed Bello, who led the delegation, prayed for God’s wisdom, good health and success for the President.

The President was presented with Sallah greeting cards and a mirror.

At the ceremony were Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Babachir David Lawal; Primate of the Church of Nigerian (Anglican Communion) rev. Nicholas Okoh; Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu; Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar; National Security Adviser Babagana Mongunu and Acting Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idris.

The Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), FCT Chapter, Israel Akanji and Dr. Kabir Adam of the National Mosque, Abuja were also part of the delegation.

 Tribune with 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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