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SON: After National Quality Policy draft, what next?

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The Director General, Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), Dr. Joseph Ikem Odumodu, entered his second year in February 2012 and started talking something quite different from his administration’s Six-point Agenda: a National Quality Policy which he said is vital and urgent for Nigeria to take solid stand on global trade.

In his estimation, it is policy that sets the template for officials, players and fans; in this case the regulators, standards accreditation bodies, facilities and skills for effective standards regime and ultimately, the consumers.

In order words, the national quality policy will give the scope and set the boundaries for the regulators, stakeholders, products and services that businesses and society get in the final analysis in terms of quality predicated on management systems, operating environment and human resources development as well the institutions that drive best standard practices and growth.

Essentially, a National Quality Policy is an official national document adopted in agreement with the public and private sector operators and which sets objectives on quality and technical regulations.

Lack of National Quality Policy means everyone acting according to the whims which has been the bane of the Nigerian society by and large and suspected to be responsible for the poor state of business performance and National Quality Infrastructure, weak regulations and imbalanced international trade relations currently dogging the nation. In fact, a National Quality Policy is vital to good governance because it is the foundation of quality of life of citizens.

The Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment through the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) set to work on the processes to establishing a National Quality Policy and to this end, on September 26, 2013, the National Steering Committee to formulate the National Quality Policy was inaugurated in Abuja; basically as an inter-ministerial committee to streamline regulatory frameworks and design infrastructure development models for the nation’s quality concept & practices that would form the basis of standards in both the public and private sectors.

The broad-based inter-ministerial committee, headed by Industry, Trade and Investment Minister, Dr. Olusegun Aganga and having the SON DG, Dr. Odumodu as the secretary was to review and harmonize existing quality policies in Nigeria and prepare Draft National Quality Policy that would be acceptable to the stakeholders in readiness for legislation and due implementation as the policy working document.

The NQP aims to help define the objective principles and results to be achieved, as well the necessary resources to be mobilized in the field of quality. An important outcome is that the NQP will facilitate the establishment of functional National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) and thereby catalyzing Nigeria’s entry into international trade in line with global best practices – hence enabling competitiveness of locally made products at the world market.

At this juncture, we commend the European Union (EU), and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), for joining hands with Nigeria to deliver the project. Special appreciation must also go to the Honorable Minister, Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Aganga and the SON DG Dr Odumodu who particularly must have feared privately that the project could misfire if the committee members did not redouble their efforts.

To forestall this, Odumodu caused SON to commit huge financial and human resources as the technical committee was largely drawn from SON experienced staff. With the EU support and UNIDO facilitation, the NSC comprising representatives of both the private and public sectors got marching orders from the minister on the following terms: To review and harmonise existing Quality policies in Nigeria

To prepare a Draft National Quality Policy that is acceptable to all stakeholders, and To support the approval and implementation of the National Quality policy. The committee was grouped into seven units with members from both the public and private sectors bearing on each member’s area of specialization and comparative advantage towards facilitating their work.

In addition, technical officers were drawn from SON to serve in the sub-committees as follows: Standards, Metrology, Accreditation, Conformity Assessment/Test laboratory, Communication, National technical Regulation and Budget and planning.

It is heartwarming that the Draft National Quality Policy has been produced and presented to Dr. Aganga with implementation schedule built into it so that it is not abstract but tangible with deliverable values and measureable parameters. The draft document was the result of consultations and inputs from stakeholders across the geopolitical zones.

However, a national quality policy does not exist in isolation. An NQP needs to integrate with the regional, continental and global standards. To this extent, the coming National Quality Policy of Nigeria needs integrate the West African Industrial Policy (WAPIC) which main objectives are “to maintain a solid industrial structure which is globally competitive, environment friendly and capable of significantly improving the living standards of the people.”

Again, the thrust: Manufacturing industries contribution to regional GDP from 7% to 20%; intra community trade from 12% to 40%, and export of ECOWAS manufactured goods to the global market from 0.1% to 1%. The draft policy also stressed the driving forces behind it: the desire to efficiently and effectively manage regulatory responsibilities to achieve the primary mandates of protecting the society and environment;

the need for stakeholders to deal with a transparent and reliable state regulatory system without having to battle with bureaucratic vagaries, and the need for stakeholders to give industries supportive standards, metrology, accreditation and conformity assessment schemes that are affordable and accepted globally.

And the question follows: Now that Nigeria has a draft National Quality Policy, where do we go from here or, now that we have gotten to the bridge that separated us from quality system societies, are we to move with dispatch or tarry awhile before we launch out with renewed courage?

Vanguard

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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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