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Youths lock down N’Assembly, demand Saraki’s resignation

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  • As Saraki assures Budget’ll be ready for President’s assent next week

Many protesting youths under the aegis of Occupy National Assembly, on Tuesday, besieged the premises of the federal parliament and demanded the immediate resignation of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.

The youths made up of various Civil Society Organisations and students, were also demanding that the federal lawmakers should immediately revisit the grey areas identified in the 2016 budget by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Apart from this, they asked 36 senators who had so far collected their own exotic jeeps to return them immediately or face the wrath of Nigerians.

The protesters marched from the Unity Fountain within the Central Area of the city to the National Assembly, a journey of about two kilometers and forced their way to the main gate, defiling all security network mounted by regular and riot police officers.

The youths forced the main gate closed thereby preventing staff, lawmakers and visitors from either entering or leaving the premises.

The protesters, armed with placards containing various inscriptions, vowed to seal off the federal parliament for the initial three days to see whether their demands would be met.

They also said they would resume a permanent protest that would paralyse all activities in the National Assembly until all their demands were fully met.

In the meantime, President Muhammadu Buhari last night met with the leadership of the National Assembly led by the Senate President Bukola Saraki at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The Budget will be ready for the President’s assent next week, it weas learnt. The closed door meeting, which was attended by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, started about 9.20 pm and ended at 9.30 pm  at the First Lady’s Conference Room.

House Speaker Yakubu Dogara,  Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy Speaker of the House, Yusuf Lasun also attended the meeting. Others include the Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio; House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila and other leaders of the National Assembly.

The Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari; Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma,  Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang and  Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives), Samaila Kawu, were at the meeting.

Speaking with State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, Saraki said the executive and legislature  agreed on the way forward to tackle the 2016 Budget crisis. According to him, the grey areas will be ironed out in a matter of days and the budget will be ready for President’s assent next week.

He said: “We just finished a meeting with the president and vice president, we came to let them know some of the solutions that we found in moving the budget process forward and we are happy to say that we have agreed on the way forward and we believe that this process will be completed in a matter of days rather than weeks.

“So it is good for Nigerians and all of us, we have found a way forward and in a matter of days the budget will be ready for president’s assent. Asked to throw light on the way forward, he said: “We have committees that have been set up on our side and also on the executive side, we will engage over the next few days, to just tidy up a few loose ends and here and there and the outcome will be satisfactory to everybody.”

On whether the budget will be signed this week, Saraki said: “ I said it is a matter of days and not weeks, so you can start counting the days which means that between now and Monday or Tuesday, I’m hopeful that the budget will be signed.”

Udo Udoma said: “We have agreed to work together to resolve all issues in the next few days and we have also agreed on the modalities of doing so. So, it was a very good meeting, very positive and within the next few days all issues will be resolved.

Upshot with additional report from The 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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