By Joshua Yousouph
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has revealed major conditions for the disbursement of the $350m and N16bn Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) to indigenous ship owners.
During a general meeting held by Nigerian Shipowners’ Association (NISA) in Lagos on Thursday, the Chairman Board of Trustees of the association, Chief Isaac Jolapomo noted that the association had sent a delegation to NIMASA to seek clarity following the issues and controversies surrounding the disbursement of the CVFF.
Recall that NISA has earlier set up a six-man committee to ensure accountability in the CVFF disbursement, while also demanding an audit of the CVFF collection, which has accrued since 2003.
While giving a feedback of the meeting between the committee and NIMASA, the Chairman of the CVFF Committee of NISA, Dr. Edward Sowho, explained that the Director General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh affirmed that the accruals of the CVFF is currently in both Dollar and Naira accounts. Giving details, Jamoh reportedly informed that $350m is currently in the dollar account but cannot give an exact figure of the accruals in the Naira account as it is yet to be reconciled. He also noted that the $350m has been allocated to five finance institutions.
According to Dr. Sowho, Jamoh stressed that the Federal Government has not set up any committee yet for the disbursement. He promised that the disbursement will be done within the current regime of government before May 29th.
NIMASA DG enjoined all indigenous ship owners to come up with harmonised guidelines for the disbursement. He however, stressed on the importance of unity among all indigenous ship owners, adding that NISA and Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) must unite and possibly collapse into one indigenous ship owners association before the CVFF can be disbursed.
In Dr. Sowho words: “The NIMASA DG asked that before the CVFF will be disbursed, the division among indigenous ship owners must end. That NISA and SOAN must collapse into one body of indigenous ship owners’ group.
“Secondly, the NIMASA DG asked that NISA must change the name of it’s CVFF Committee because the Federal Ministry of Transportation is about to set-up a committee with that name. The NIMASA DG told us that the Federal Ministry of Transportation cannot have a Committee named CVFF Committee while NISA also has a committee named CVFF Committee.
“Thirdly, the NIMASA DG asked us to accept the disbursement of the amount in the CVFF. The NIMASA DG said that NISA cannot fault the amount in the CVFF and expect it to be disbursed” Dr. Sowho concluded.
Speaking earlier, Prince Olayiwola Shittu, the Chairman of the Reconciliatory Committee which was earlier set up to reconcile aggrieved members of the association for the resuscitation and rebranding of NISA, noted that the committee has successfully reconciled many of the aggrieved members of the association.
Prince Shittu, who is a former national president of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents stressed the need to rebrand NISA by amending the association’s constitution, acquire a formidable Secretariat and clearly spell out the roles and activities of every member of the association. While appreciating the BoT Chairman for the privilege, he however called for the sustenance of, tolerance, understanding and unity among all members.
Chief Isaac Jolapamo advocated for elections into positions of national offices and it was agreed that elections should take place in February possibly before the nation’s general elections.
The meeting selected Captain Adewale Ishola, Captain Solomon Aluko, Mr. Gbolahan Adu and Mr. Bob Manuel as members of the Electoral Committee, and mandated the committee to come up with a timeline and date for elections into national offices of NISA.
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