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WEEKEND GINGER: Tokunboh cars tariff and the President’s men!

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…As Jonathan engages several enemies to speak for him!

President Goodluck Jonathan may have hit the bull’s eye, when he compelled the National Automotive Council (NAC) to postpone the implementation of the policy which hiked tariff on fairly used car, as earlier slated for January 1, 2015. The implementation would have ensured that a man who did not have shoes as a youth, effectively denied several Nigerians, who would vote in February this year, some chances of owning their own cars!

General Muhammadu Buhari

General Muhammadu Buhari

It was a policy several Nigerians have described as anti-people. The Customs agents, importers, port users and a good percentage of the masses have complained about. Some even threatened to down tool if the policy was implemented. But rather than step it down, the policy was merely postponed.

PROF. MULLER

PROF. GERHARDT  MULLER

The Maritime First has it on good record that it was not Goodluck Jonathan that was in love with the policy; it was some of the people he appointed that wanted it implemented, because they perfectly understand that the policy could effectively reduce the growing statistics of imported fairly used or tokunboh cars. The policy would indirectly assist them to reduce gridlock on Nigerian roads, particularly in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Lagos and Ibadan. From their calculations, the policy was a ‘lazy-man’s solution, to a vexing issue! Subsequently, those groups of people took every available opportunity to drum into his ears, the need for the policy’s immediate implementation! If the President had not intervened and called them to order; his image would have further plummeted: the President’s men are in most cases, his worst enemies!

A teacher, at Global Maritime and Transportation School (GMATS), King’s Point, New York, Prof.  Gerhardt Muller was lecturing a few students, four years ago, when he suddenly stopped, to make disturbing revelation.

“I guess you guys are from Nigeria and you are journalists?” He continued when the response he got was an affirmative.

“When you get home, please tell your Government that crude oil prices would crash in the next five years. In the next eight years, it won’t be worth your lot any longer. Is that okay?” and then he continued the subject of his teaching which was somehow on the International Ships and Ports Facility Security (ISPS) Code.

We exchanged glances; we were disturbed. David Ogah of the Guardian was there, same as John Iwori of Thisday; Biodun Oladunjoye, presently at the Presidency was there; same as Dele Aderibigbe of the then Nigerian Tribune. Three days later, the celebrated hurricane Katrina swept through New York, hurting two; just about the same time the uncelebrated ‘Omiyale’ Ogunpa flood tore through Ibadan, killing more than 40 persons!

On arrival, the Nigerian Tribune did a page publication, calling attention to what an informed teacher said at the GMATS. Several persons at the seat of Government said it was a false alarm!

Yet, when Prof. Muller’s prediction came to manifestation last year, the first reaction of Jonathan’s choice men was to gleefully alert the poor masses of a looming Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), which in reality means another ‘belt-tightening’ measure for the already, emaciated and hungry citizens.

If a maritime teacher in the US, knew this much about Nigeria, why do we still respect our highly paid, highly celebrated figure-heads, who would rather continually misinform the President, rather than ‘earn’ the money they were paid?!The President’s men are his worst enemies!

But what of the activities of the President’s men at the Nigerian University Commission? Were they not the people who would recklessly grant approval to private universities to commence certain courses, only to wait till the university is ready to graduate its first set of products before they start talking of accreditation?

Somebody said they learnt from the workers at the Ibadan Northeast Local Government Planning Authority that it would wait until a property was fully developed before it moves in to mark it red bold ink a ‘X’ complemented by the two letters TP. From that point, you know you would either have to settle, or the property is pulled down. Of course, it enables the negotiable value of settlement to hit the roof-top!

One of the President’s men recently described General Buhari as a semi-literate. Another described the bulk of northerners as “ungrateful” parasites; etc. Were they helping the cause of Mr. President? Another said a Buhari Presidency would be a danger to the Christian community at a time when a renowned Catholic Priest, was reportedly, publicly offering prayers for the General!

One could go on and on, without mentioning the alleged corrupt enrichment through either bullet proof cars at the Aviation sector or, the alleged missing billions at the petroleum industry.  Yet in all these, it had been the President’s men, drawing negative publicity to Jonathan.

One only needs to see the haphazard manner the Chibok girls’ imbroglio was handled to become convinced that the President’s men were in deed, his worst enemies.  The King has only three jobs. The first is to Protect the people. The second is to feed them. The third is to find and engage those who would assist him to perform both assignments with credibility! Or is that not the content of Jean Jack Rousseau’s social contract sermon? Yet, Mr. President trusts them all, including his ‘town crier’, forgetting that even a man’s shadow may outrun him, at his hour of darkness!

For some of us, we have begun to pray for Mr. President, counting on his good-luck to pull surprises.  What can we do, more so, when the INEC has denied us of the opportunity to vote for him, having ensured that we could not register, despite several attempts.

But we will continue to pray, going by statistics of registered voters just made available to us.  Even as we plead that he pleads with the crowd of enemies he has engaged, to be his mouth piece, presently.

The statistics which we hope were wrong, because they were frighteningly ominous put the total number of INEC Nigeria registered voters in each state in perspective; aside from providing a reader a clue as to the possible outcome of the Nigeria presidential election.

South East:

Abia 1,481,191

Anambra 1,758,220

Enugu 1,301,185

Imo 1,611,715

Ebonyi 876,249

Total 7,028,560

South West:

Lagos 6,247,845

Ogun 1,869,326

Osun 1,293,967

Ondo 1,558,975

Ekiti 750,753

Oyo 2,577,490

Total 14,298,356

South South:

Edo 1,412;225

Delta 1,900,055

Bayelsa 472,389

Akwa Ib 1,714,781

RIvers 2,419,057

C/Rivers 1,018,550

Total 8,937,057

North Central:

Benue 1,415,162

Kogi 1,215,405

Kwara 1,115,665

Nassarawa 1,224,206

Niger 721,478

Plateau 1,983,453

Total 7,675,369

North East:

Adamawa 1,714,860

Bauchi 1,835,562

Borno 2,730,368

Gombe 1,266,993

Taraba 1,308,106

Yobe 1,182,230

Total 10,038,119

North West:

Jigawa 1,852,698

Kano 5,135,415

Katsina 2,931,668

Kaduna 3,565,762

Kebbi 1,603,468

Sokoto 2,065,508

Zamfara 1,746,024

Total 18,900,543.

Nigerians, in the meantime are asking what did the country do with the oil windfall when it sold as black liquid gold in the international market? Perhaps, the easiest way to answer the question might be to pay occasional visits to the Abuja and Kaduna Airports, where sometimes, the number of private jets parked glistering in the tropical sunlight do show them as out-numbering the number of cars in the premises!

If those who love the President cannot vote because they have been denied of voters card registration; if Catholic Rev’d Fathers are now praying for Muslim candidates, because the President, through his men has disappointed Nigerians; and if my friend from Ogwashi Uku, a Christian, is now vigorously campaigning for Buhari, even when he has not met the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) General beyond mere facial contacts on television screens, then one can only wish Mr. President one thing: Good Luck!

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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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