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WEEKEND GINGER: THE PIOUS ARE THE POOR!

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They didn’t tie them like rogues. The Ghanaians tied them like dangerously insane people who must not be allowed to escape.
First, they handcuffed their hands at the back; then they went for heavy ropes, the type the Buroro Fulani use in subduing a stubborn cow, to bind them up, before covering their faces up, after which they re-tied them to some nearby irons.

No Nigerian could tie fellow Nigerians like that. But, deservedly, that was how the Ghanaian navy tied up eight Nigerians, an arrested gang of pirates, who were caught in their jurisdiction, after hijacking a vessel, the MT. Mariam.

The Nigerian pirates were specially unlucky: first, they were arrested by a people who see stealing, robbery or hijacking as corruption; secondly they were taken to a land where, powerful phone calls were not likely to get any rogue off the hook!
Remember, it was a gang of eight that reportedly, around June 5, 2014 robbed the Liberian-flagged tanker, the MT Fair Artemis, off the coast of same Ghana; and made away with cargo and personal effects.  Remember, it was also a gang of eight, which reportedly swooped on a Turkish ship, heading to Ivory Coast,  around November 4, last year and kidnapped two crew members who couldn’t make it to the ‘panic room’; and demanded for ransom. So, in all irony, it was again like ‘na only you people dey waka come’!
Crime is a big time, lucrative business in Nigeria. Only the pious are poor!

One of them, according to informed source, has blamed the devil, emphasizing that the poor state of the economy, drove him into crime!

The Akwa Ibom State Commandant, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Mr. Pedro Ideba got the shock of his life when unimpressed audience gave him the cold treatment after he announced that for last year alone, the Corps arrested 185 suspected oil thieves and vandals. In the assumptions of his audience, the figure was not just too little; it was more like the “official figure”.

“About 185 suspects were arrested last year for their alleged involvement in oil bunkering, adulteration of petroleum products and vandalism” he gleefully harped in Uyo, on January 7th, waiting for applause. Some of his listeners audibly mouthed: “only?!”

Two days earlier in Bayelsa State, the Managing Director of Izon-Ibe Security Company, a Government established security outfit, Chief James Jephthah was assuring oil companies and related stakeholders in Yenagoa, that government was adopting new strategies to protect their investments, particularly the pipelines. But they must first register with them, in addition to terminating earlier contractual agreements, entered into with individuals or private security companies. 

Those who refuse to invest in education and employment opportunities, ultimately spend double, on security and crime controls, without much success!
Perhaps, Nigeria is finally learning this the hard way.

Why didn’t the audience applaud the arrest of 185 suspects in Akwa Ibom? Why did the stakeholders engage private security outfits in Bayelsa State? Why was the Bayelsa State Government outfit requesting for the termination of earlier contracts? Do the vigilante groups demand the removal of Alsatian dogs from another man’s premises before functioning in an area? Would any stakeholders willingly attract extra cost via avoidable security issues, if the State had something beyond cosmetics?!

Perhaps, Crime as a social phenomenon has grown so much, and stayed so long with us, that we no longer see it as evil. Crime has become so enduring and ubiquitous, that even armed robbery cases are no longer reported at police stations, except when a life was lost!

The message from Ghana was instructive:  if you do not see stealing in your country as evil, we do here!

But how can a people denied of basic demands, like education, common primary health care and relatively cheap food see anything wrong in stealing?
How can an authority which blindly watches the “NEPA” by whatever names, increase tariff, compel the customers to pay, while in the same breadth reduce power supplies,  see anything wrong in contractors who collect money without executing the projects!

Or would a platform which joyously supervises the National University Commission daily wrecking the lives of the youths, through uncoordinated policies with private universities admission and accreditation arrangements, see anything wrong, in the non participation of a country in its own crude oil lifting?!

When the Brent crude oil price slumped to $57.94, the Minister of Finance, Dr  Ngozi Okonjo Iweala told Nigerians, that Government was only subsidizing fuel by just about 0.90 kobo, assuring that Government was already looking at a more equitable pump price. When the price slumped to $47 and below, Government reduced its pump price by N10.
Are we now in a regime where every dollar slide would also translate into a Naira slide?

The people believe that Government is no longer subsidizing, but in fact pinching from the people. Is the Minister listening? If the belief is FALSE, why is Iweala keeping quiet, in an election year?!

Is it the poor communication gap that has fuelled”pinching” culture, on both sides? Are we deliberately encouraging the citizens to appreciate the pinching culture further or not?

Fortunately, it is not all Nigerians that believe in the pinching culture. Some, despite the state of the economy, can still not steal. They have decided to invade Europe, in their thousands, with some, paying far more in amounts that could set up a business in Ghana, where you neither need to buy a generator before going to business; nor be ruined by the cost of fuelling and maintenance problems, before breaking even.

They go to Europe in droves. Sadly, many, according to statistics are also dying in droves. Every time you hear that the Italian navy has discovered bodies of migrants moving from North Africa to Sicily, always show more interest please!

Yet, more are still striving to escape. The belief is often that those who died were either unlucky or something close to it. 

Some die in the desert, trying to cross into North Africa. Some would be lucky to reach Morocco and die. Some drown crossing from Tangiers by canoes, dinghies and ferries.  The few that finally make it into Europe, only wake up to their chagrin that the EU economy is after all, not the Eldorado they described before they left home!

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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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