Sailing on a familiar course of insincerity towards developing indigenous shipping capacity, the Federal Government last Monday in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, merely announced that only six firms have been penciled down as beneficiaries of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF). The CVFF, which is overseen by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), is meant to help boost indigenous shipping operators’ capacity. The sextet were, however, not named by the Federal Government.
The announcement by the Federal Government comes about two and half years after SHIPS & PORTS DAILY broke the story in the edition of March 6, 2011, in which the six CVFF shortlisted beneficiaries were named. In the celebrated exclusive story, NIMASA shortlists Rangk, 5 others for CVFF … Agency sets on course to revolutionise indigenous shipping operations, SHIPS& PORTS DAILY had listed the six that emerged from over 100 proposals submitted to the CVFF’s four primary lending institutions (PLIs) appointed by NIMASA to include Rangk Limited, Ocean Marine, and Niger Delta Shipping. Others, according to that report, are Mich Harry & Co Limited, UTM Dredging Limited, and A & G Butler Nigeria Limited.
And in what some industry watchers have qualified as celebrating a non-achievement, the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, who made the announcement in a keynote address at a forum to mark the 2013 World Maritime Day, said: “Realising the importance of the participation of the indigenous operators in the achievement of sustainable development and enhancement of indigenous capacity, the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act (Cabotage Act) was enacted and provides for the establishment of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund. This is intended to assist indigenous operators to acquire vessels. For purposes of disbursements, four primary lending institutions namely Diamond Bank, Fidelity Bank, Skye Bank and Sterling Bank have been appointed.”
Umar, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transport, Engr. Nebolisa Emordi, said at the event held at the Transcorp Hotel, Calabar: “Out of the several applications received for the CVFF facility, six applications have been processed and endorsed by these aforementioned Primary Lending Institutions (PLIs) and accordingly recommended by the management of NIMASA (Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency) to the ministry and are being evaluated for approval.”
Without equivocation, we qualify the Minister’s words on the CVFF as a celebration of a non-achievement, particularly on such an auspicious day as Nigeria’s celebration of the 2013 World Maritime Day. For the too long, little progress has be made on the matter of deploying the CVFF. Therefore, while the Minister’s blowing of the trumpet over the state of the CVFF implementation may attract polite applause from his audience, deep in their heart stakeholders are gnashing their teeth in agony over the Federal Government’s clear ineptitude in powering the development of an industry that is truly “the gateway to the nation’s economy”, but the immense offerings remains largely untapped.