We have made our position known on several occasions that it is absolutely not right. The best we can do is to engage the incoming administration. It is not even funny that the House of Reps passed a motion to stop the disbursement of the fund. Can a motion stop such a thing? Something that the President has already assented to. It is not possible; they don’t have the right. Can we even engage them? No, because they have few days to go. We don’t even need them. As far as I am concerned, it is just a political statement.
I am not a politician, but I believe there are laid down rules and processes to be followed. We are more concerned with the provision and acquisition of ships in the country in other to provide jobs for seafarers and also contribute to the development of shipping in Nigeria. Now that the House of Reps is raising concerns on local content, we don’t even know if we are benefiting from Local Content or not. We are not part of the politics. They should just make sure ships are acquired so that there will be jobs for Nigerian seafarers.
The National Assembly has the right for oversight functions. I think they can express their opinions, but we should not forget that the Assembly has a few days to go. With the new Assembly we would now look at the issues. I don’t think we should make much comments about it. Let the new government come forward and from there we can proceed.
The National Assembly is an organ of government and they have the authority on government including agencies and parastatals. Apart from making laws, they are also saddled with the responsibility of making sure that funds approved must comply with due process, because if by any time after approval and they receive petitions about some certain things, they have the responsibility to come and address the issue. There is difference between permanent and temporary stoppage. If the disbursement if CVFF was cancelled, it would have been a different ball game. The stoppage is just temporary to investigate certain things. Anyone saying they don’t have the right is just propaganda. If they have authority to approve, they also have the authority to stop if there is any petition against non-compliance. They are just trying to ensure sanity and full compliance with the Cabotage laws.
You know Nigeria is a peculiar country. The President is from the Executive arm and the House of Reps are in the legislative arm. Maybe they want a kind of settlement or engagement by also putting their voice on it. Ship owners have to let them understand the need of the fund as an avenue to create jobs for the teeming youths. They should assent to it and let it work. The Nigerian factor is affecting it which we are now experiencing in the Maritime sector. There is politics everywhere. The assembly wants their own share on the funds, nothing more. I think we must be more involved in politics as maritime players instead of sitting on the fence.
Bear it in mind that the House cannot do much because they are going. In the next few weeks they will be gone. So we would still have to hold on for the incoming House to come in for you to have another discussion. We are consulting and by the time we consult widely, we would be able to take a stand on it as NISA. We don’t want to take any decision that will affect either the maritime sector or our members. For now we are not reacting, but consulting and looking forward for ways we can engage the government without being confrontational.
It is not right. What is their contribution to the CVFF? What does the House of Reps need to do with the CVFF? If the House of Reps is now trying to negate the Presidential approval, they are just trying to flex their muscles. That is the corruption we are talking about in this country. The have special interest in the fund and they believe if they come in, NIMASA who is the custodian of the fund will try to reach out to them probably to even secure a second term. These are some of the bureaucracies in Nigerian politics. The fund should go to the indigenous ship owners. They should engage those who are qualified to benefit from the CVFF and disburse the money to them. This will enable the ship owners to boost the economy and provide jobs for seafarers. All these the House of Reps are doing is delay tactics. They want to have a bite of the money. The Senate too might come up with something later. They do not have jurisdiction over it. The Presidency has spoken already.