By DAPO OLAWUNI
Even as the House of Representatives on May 2nd 2023 ordered the immediate suspension of the planned disbursement of $700 million Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) to Nigeria ship owners by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Minister of Transportation, Muazu Jaji Sambo has backed the action, saying that the suspension is not a setback, and that the lawmakers acted within their constitutionally given powers.
Sambo stated this during a press conference on the sidelines of the commissioning of the NIMASA Abuja Zonal Office on Tuesday in Abuja.
According to him, the National Assembly is the arm of government charged with overseeing the actions and inactions of the executive powers of government.
“We were we excited when Mr President approved the disbursement of the CVFF, we were in the process of making sure that all the terms and conditions are favourable for the beneficiaries.
“When we received the news by the House of Representatives to suspend the disbursement exercise which has not commenced, the House is very well in it’s wisdom to make the pronouncement they made because they also have a duty to the Nigerian people to find out exactly what is happening.
“It is not a setback per say, because where financial matters are concerned, everybody must be transparent, there is no way you can do anything with public fund without accounting for it properly, so yes, we support the house of representatives quest for knowing exactly what volume of funds are we giving out.
“An investigation is not an indictment, it is an enquiry into the affairs of any matter, and the National Assembly has the power to do that, NIMASA and the Federal Ministry of Transportation nothing to hide from the Nigerian public, we have tried to make sure that something that took seventeen years is finally happening to the benefit of Nigerians” Sambo said
Meanwhile, shipowners have condemned the National Assembly for suspending the disbursement process of the CVFF, saying that the lawmakers could have asked for it’s enquiry without suspending the process.
Speaking with DAILY TREND, an indigenous shipowner, Capt Taiwo Akinpelumi said that the lawmakers suspension of the CVFF disbursement was reckless, adding that the enquiry and investigation could have been done while the disbursement continues.
“For us as shipowners and critical stakeholders, we appreciate that the House of Representatives have what they call oversight functions, but the way they go about, is it lawful?
“The law is supposed to achieve an objective, it is now like you have been trying to have a baby, but now you want to abort the pregnancy midway. They should have allowed the disbursement to take place, then, later they can decide to audit the agency administering the disbursement to see if they followed due process.
“The fact that they want to audit the accrued money in the CVFF Fund cannot be faulted, but that should not disturb the disbursement, the two can be done concurrently” he said