Dr Eugene Nweke (Freight Forwarder)
That is a misapplication of fund; this is not what the money was meant for. The money has a purpose and it must serve its purpose. We are not building capacity so why are they talking about building maritime bank with the money that is supposed to be used for something else? Let them enhance ship services first either by acquisition or by refurbishing. Indigenous shipping requires empowerment; I am not saying that all of them must be honest. We must use a yardstick to know which person among them is reliable. Use the money to create work and employment. Which bank are they even talking about, who will be the managing director of the maritime bank if they open the bank, who will be the CEO? Well if they are talking of bank we have Bank of Industry and maritime is an industry. So, it is for them to move and make a case with Bank of Industry, to create a department of maritime services under Bank of Industry, and then we will have somebody that will be a deputy DG in charge of maritime services. Bank of Industry is all-encompassing. Trying to create maritime bank is a misappropriation of fund. That money should be applied as stipulated in the Act.
Captain Joseph Awodeha (Master Mariner)
That is an idea that can be explored, because if you use the money to establish a maritime bank for the service of those who contributed the money, I think it is worth looking into so that the bank will be in-charge of disbursing the money for those who contributed because the money was meant for the contributors. If the bank will use it for that purpose, then fine because we know that at one time they wanted a bank to steward it. Because what happened to the previous money that NIMASA didn’t have the technical know- how to follow up with those that were given the money for appropriate repayment and sanction for those that didn’t pay. If you know push that to bankers, for bankers to do it the way they follow up their debtors to pay, then it is worth looking into.
Mr Julius Eforkpor (Merchant Navy)
I think it is a welcome development; the funds have been under lock and key for a long time now and if nothing had happened to it when it gets to the bank nothing will still happen to it. The fund will be used to invest and make profit and the industry will grow. The maritime bank is on a purpose, it will enable the maritime sector to have easy access to fund and we hope that we will not put a strict condition for maritime stakeholders. Otherwise it is a good development.
Mr. John Egesi (Stakeholder)
The important thing is that the bank should be under the control of the NIMASA. Usually it is better to have a bank to control things like this so that they will make some profit but the most important thing is for NIMASA to control the bank and not some politicians.
Alhaji Aminu Umar (President, NISA)
The Maritime Bank Act at the House of Representatives is okay, we welcome it, the CVFF is an intervention fund meant for us, if they are converting it into a maritime bank or they decide to disburse it, it is still okay. However, we are supporting that a bank be there, so that the bank can be the one that would warehouse the CVFF and the other funds available for intervention in shipping.
Capt Franklin Akinpelumi (Nigerian ship owner)
We have been advocating for a maritime bank for a very long time, I am in support of actually channeling the CVFF to create a maritime bank, I believe if there is a special bank solely to look after ship owners and stakeholders in the industry, it is a welcome idea because this is what we have been singing, we need that specialized bank that would look after us. The way the CVFF was structured in the past was upside down; if you are a ship owner, if you are to take money, immediately you sign that offer letter, the facility is bad, if NIMASA is saying, let us give 50%, the commercial banks would say 35% and we ship owners are saying 15%, and the commercial banks has to indemnify the whole money. What you are saying is that the commercial banks are giving a form of guarantee that should the facility go bad, they have to pay for a total sum, of course they would look at it as their regular appraisal and they would charge the normal interest rate split into double digits which is not good for shipowners. But, if we have special banks like the maritime bank to handle such, they would look at the peculiarity of our situation and the interest rate would be reasonable.
Emeka Akabogu (Maritime Lawyer)
If they are going to do this, they would need to amend the Cabotage Act or, at the very least, amend the CVFF regulations which are still subsisting law, otherwise it would be illegal. If the bill they are coming up with would amend the existing Cabotage Act and the subsidiary legislation under which the CVFF regulations are currently existing for the purpose of ensuring that the maritime bank is funded by CVFF, this is the only time they can do it. But if they do not follow this process, it would be illegal.
It is good to create a maritime bank if what they are doing is still in the spirit of the Cabotage Act which is to disburse funds to Nigerian ship owners. From the legal point of view, you must adjust the statutory framework to suit the new intention.
Julius Adeleye (Seafarer)
I believe a maritime bank is more competent, better qualified to deal with maritime issues, I am in total support that government should convert the CVFF into a maritime bank. If the government could dedicate a bank for Industry, Agriculture and Mortgage, they can also have a bank for the Maritime sector. The commercial banks will continue to use their template for commercial activities which is not favourable to maritime. An average Nigerian ship owner is looking for long gestation money; all these short term loans will result to failure as it had been in other countries. When we give only five years repayment period, you have already built in failure. The only people who can do it are the professionals and the professional here is the Maritime bank with template for maritime lending.