All hopes of Nigerian shipowners for the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) has been dashed as the Minister of Transportation, Hon Rotimi Amaechi last weekend announced that the approval earlier given by President Muhammadu Buhari for disbursement has been withdrawn.
Amaechi who spoke at an exercise to flag off wreck removal in Lagos last week said that it is only in Nigeria that shipowners exist without really owning any ships.
As at last check by the NigerianMaritimeAdministrationandSafetyAgency (NIMASA), the CVFF has acrued a whopping $209m and N32b.
According to Amaechi, the maritime sector is too toxic and suspicious, saying that some powerful stakeholders in the sector write various petitions against him to the president, and that some of them even stalk him in the dead of the night.
He said that the CVFF disbursement approval was withdrawn due to the distrust among the shipowners.
Speaking on the CVFF disbursement, Amaechi stated that President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier given approval for disbursements but it was abruptly withdrawn.
“I fought for two years plus and they gave us approval, when it was time to diabuurse, they started looking for trouble, one day I woke up and saw a directive from the President withdrawing that approval, should I fight again?
“When I discovered that there are rancor in the industry, I stayed afar. If you discovered that there is friction and fight in a department under your ministry, you leave that agency and move to an agency more serious.
“It is only in the Nigerian maritime sector that you have ship owners that don’t have ships. So, if I am dealing with ship owners that don’t have ships, what do I do? I move to the railway where they are serious and business-minded.
“When I came into government, my focus was on the maritime industry. The enthusiasm and passion were there. I even took you to Singapore to get foreign investors that would give us 40% while the other 60% would be ours. We got an investor and I instructed my people to go and arrange their 60%. Till today, they are still arranging.
“Basically, our maritime sector has a lot of problems. First, there are people who make money from illegalities in the industry. Those people would never allow you to succeed. I am the first Minister that has fought their battle without being removed. It is a sector that if you put your head in it, they would chop it off” he said