By DAPO OLAWUNI
There are indications that some Nigerian indigenous shipowners are not so excited about the announcement by the Minister of Transportation Eng Muazu Jaji Sambo that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved disbursement of the CVFF Fund after 17-years of delay.
Speaking on the sidelines of the press conference by the minister on Saturday in Lagos, former President of Indigenous Shipowners Association of Nigeria (ISAN) Capt Niyi Labinjo said the CFVV fund is useless without the creation of cargoes or jobs for the vessels.
Capt Labinjo also condemned the non-inclusion of the shipowners in the selection process for the disbursement of the CVFF Fund, knowing that the fund actually belong to them.
According to Capt Labinjo a seasoned maritime expert, Nigeria has been running waivers for the past 19-years, which according to him is a total failure because local practitioners were not being catered for in the existing Cabotage law.
“I cannot be excited about this announcement because, getting a ship is only one aspect, but ensuring that the ship has employment all through her life is another thing. All our refineries are not working, what would the ships be doing?
“In other countries, it is not just the money that is arranged, they also arrange for the jobs, because without cargo, the ship is an ordinary thing, an iron.
“Personally I will never apply because I can’t see the jobs that would enable me recover and pay back the money. If there is no jobs, if you give anybody the CVFF, in another ten years, you would be running after them.
“When you talk of Cabotage, it must be restricted to your people, by now, we should not have any waiver again, Indians and Pakistanis are the ones getting the waivers because they are the ones running our tanker business, how many Nigerians still have tanker business running? Maybe three, all of them have gone under
“We have advocated something which they have not complied with, and unless they do so, we would continue to get it wrong” he said
He described the CVFF as an “esusu” (local thrifts or contribution) which he said must be given back to the owners at a particular time.
“How can you get our money disbursed to us without getting us involved as part of the team of the selection process, they have not done that.
There must be among the selection team, members of the Nigerian shipowners.
“I am one of the people that took NIMASA to Indonesia to see how their Cabotage is being run, first and foremost, in Cabotage, you must restrict it, we have been running waivers for nineteen years now, this means that we are not growing” He said
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Minister of Transportation Eng Muazu Jaji Sambo had announced that Buhari acknowledges that the CVFF Fund belongs to Nigerian shipowners and this would be disbursed to them immediately, especially those that meets the criteria.
The Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr Bashir Jamoh also announced that the CVFF has $350million and N16 billion ready for disbursement.