Ihenacho to Amaechi: Planned national carrier is a waste of resources

Former Minister of Interior, Captain Emmanuel Ihenacho has advised Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi to shelve his plans to establish a national shipping carrier in the mold of the defunct Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL).

Speaking in an interview over the weekend, the former Minister who is a ship owner and Master Mariner, said the planned establishment of a new national carrier by government represents old thinking.

“It is absolutely unnecessary for anybody or government to be thinking along that line now.

“What is a national fleet? They are ships that fly the Nigerian flag. They are not going to make anything out of that, except waste the nation’s resources.

“The Nigeria National Shipping line (NNSL) is a case point. Political factors set in to ensure it never existed as a commercial enterprise.

“The same happened to the National Unity Line, which went down because of interference of political factors,” Ihenacho said.

He said the responsibility of government is to provide support and the enabling environment for private sector operators to run shipping lines that will fly Nigeria’s flag.

“… if experienced private sector operators were picked and empowered financially to set up a national fleet and run it as private commercial enterprises, it will work ,” he said.

He also advised government to change the trading terms of Nigeria’s crude oil from Free on Board (FOB) to Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF).

He said, “It is very important for us to optimise the benefits we derive from oil trade by ensuring there is proper integration of the transport element of maritime into the oil trade.

“One of the issues we have talked about for years is that we sold oil on Free On Board (FOB) basis and by so doing; we allowed vessels under other national flags to carry the crude. In so doing, we lost a lot of benefits, because our oil has zero value. What gives it value at the international market is when you have appended transport to it, and you can lift it from our oil wells and take it into the market.

“So, selling oil on an FOB Basis doesn’t really help us. It would be very nice, if there were maritime businessmen with the capacity to run international ships, who can make available their vessels for carrying crude to the refineries. The same thing goes for when the goods are refined to be brought back to the country.

“Currently, we depend on vessels that belong to non-Nigerians. It would be nice and beneficial, if we had an arrangement, where ships owned by Nigerians bring refined products back to the country.”

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