Against the backdrop of series of allegations that the Cabotage Vessel Financing Funds (CVFF) may have been depleted and diverted for other purposes by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), maritime lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Olisa Agbakoba says undue government interference and NIMASA’s incompetence worked against the effective administration of the fund.
Agbakoba, who is a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) said, “The reason CVFF and ship acquisition fund is not going well is because of undue government interventions. It is not the function of the government to be a bank. That is my point. And the management of CVFF is another addition to other numerous functions of NIMASA.
“How many bankers are in NIMASA? Whether by reason of incompetence, inefficiency the funds are not available so why do they collect it when they know they won’t disburse? I said this because I know no one has benefited from the fund so far.”
Agbakoba however asked the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that his government builds indigenous capacity in the shipping sector.
“A task for the new government is to build our shipping capacity. We need about 5,000 ships of different classes from VLCC and others but the money will not come from the government coffers but what I need from the government is a guarantee.
“We don’t want government to say it is bringing money to float the national carrier but rather identify key players that can grow the maritime industry.
“For instance, the government can say in its four years, it wants to build 5,000 fleet capacity ships and wants to do that by encouraging well established shipowners to build ships and I don’t think shipowners need CVFF but a guarantee.
“I think the government should as a matter of urgency establish a National Guarantee Agency (NGA) because if as a business man, the NGA looks at your paper and sees that they are correct, they can guarantee you to the international market that if you do not pay, they will. That is how we can build our shipping capacity,” he added.
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