Mike Igbokwe SAN (Maritime Lawyer)
The CVFF is regulated by Law under the Cabotage Act. There are laid down rules to be followed for the disbursement and it is quite unfortunate that some of those who are supposed to benefit from it don’t know the guidelines and the government who is supposed to implement would be arbitrary by doing whatever they like. I think there are procedures and they should follow it. If the shipowners cannot meet up, they should ask that the rules be amended. As long as the rules are not amended you can not question the disbursement of that fund, according to the rules. This is because if you do so, there are certain people that will come back and say you broke the rules and that will be legal. The law must be obeyed and everybody must follow the rules.
Engr. Matthew Alalade (Former President, Merchant Navy)
I don’t think the government is serious about this disbursement; except for efforts of this new regime of the current Transportation Minister. We are still hopeful that he can enforce the disbursement of the CVFF. If the government is sincere, they should disburse it and remove the equity of a thing and come to the roundtable to discuss it with shipowners. They should allow the shipowners have their say and they remove the clogs on the way. That is the only way the fund can be successfully disbursed.
Aminu Umar (Ship Owner)
I think the disbursement is in process, the government has already confirmed that they will disburse the CVFF and the Minister has already confirmed that. For us, we are all waiting. The moment we have the green light from the ministry, whoever is intending to apply will apply. So far, we have not gotten the green light from the ministry if the applications are be requested. So we are waiting for that and I think those who want the fund will get it.
There will always be an equity contribution. Although I argued that the 15 percent is high; however, I think the banks charges more. The equity contribution to banks is more than 15 percent. I think if that is what the government has decided to do, then we should all key into it. I think we should not say No to the CVFF.
David Etim (Deputy President, Calabar Chamber of Commerce)
I think the money in the pool which is to be $350m cannot scratch the surface of Nigeria ship owners or shipyards. In my opinion that CVFF at best should be used to create a fund similar to the Nigeria Civil Wealth Fund and that money should go into the fund as equity. If they leverage on that equity, then can then raise $30bn. Then they can now begin to address the issues. $350m is chicken change in maritime. It cannot even go anywhere. I don’t think the issue in Nigeria should be $350m, it is seed money and if we eat our seeds then we are done for. The way people are campaigning for CVFF now, people want to eat the seed, which should not be. The government should not allow the seed to be eaten. It is should be used as seed.
Captain Adetayo Saliu (Chairman, Merchant Navy Shipping Zonal Council)
The government is the custodian of the CVFF, but the money does not belong to them. I think the government wants to disburse this fund but the shipowners should bring themselves together. The government will create rancor in order to have a headway to say the shipowners are not united and they later disburse it to who they feel are ready. NISA and SOAN should come together and align in talking to the government. The government would not hesitate to dance to their tune because they are just Custodians of the fund. The money will be disbursed but should be disbursed judiciously and not with any form of favoritism to government allies. They should create a level playground for everyone to access the fund.
Captain Thomas Kemewerigha
I have always said the disbursement of CVFF is a complete fraud. Call it any condition; that money cannot come out anywhere. That is the highest fraud, there is no money anywhere. They are just buying the minds of people to hand over government to another regime, but they will be brought to book when the time comes. Nothing is happening, what are the conditions? When someone is not willing to give you something why won’t he give conditions? They know the shipowners cannot meet up with the conditions. I would advise the government to channel that money to buy training vessels, because at the end of the day the fund will be disbursed to government allies and not an average shipowner.
Engr Greg Ogbeifun (Ship Owner)
Why should CVFF be given to us? It is until we do a study to show that this is what we want to do, this is the ship we want to buy and this is the market. But we are not doing that; everybody is just jumping around for the disbursement. Right now, there is no guideline in place as required by law. So anybody running around will be breaking the law including the minister. And those who are arguing to take the money and they don’t have contracts, how are they going to go about it? Maybe we should get to talk to ourselves and the only way forward is for the Minister to bring up a guideline by changing the Act through the National Assembly, and the conditions be taken off and verified.
Captain Williams Ogunsakin (Master Mariner and South West Director, MESAN)
The so-called shipowners are not the shipowners we used to know. They have lost their business to expatriates. So where do you want the shipowners to see money to meet the equity. It is better they merge and form a corporative group before they can realise that equity. Then there can be a policy to manage it. We cannot say the government is not sincere in the disbursement of the CVFF, but I think they can do better than what they are doing now.
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