The League of Maritime Editors and Publishers on Thursday said it is yet to come to terms with the rationale behind the over N500 million spent by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on the Corporate Dinner and Merit Award organized recently by the agency at the Eko Hotels, Lagos when many incapacitated ship owners and agents lacked funds to charter vessels of three thousand tonnage to make a voyage for a contract at the cost of about N10 million, bunkering inclusive.
The President of the League, Mr. Kingsley Anaroke who made the position of the League known while delivering a welcome address at the 20th Anniversary Lecture/Awards and Patrons’ Investiture ceremony in Lagos on Thursday observed that a successful voyage means employment opportunities for a Captain, his crew and creation of wealth for the parties in the business for more investment.
Anaroke said, “The League is still struggling to appreciate the sense in the lavish expenditure of over N500 million at their recently held corporate dinner and merit awards at Eko Hotels, Lagos, when many incapacitated ship owners and agents lack funds to charter vessels of three thousand tonnage to make a voyage for a contract at the cost of about N10 million, bunkering inclusive”.
The President who imagined a situation where at least 50 percent of Nigerian profiled ship owners had functional revenue generating bottoms regardless of their sizes wondered how much job opportunities would have been created in different families even as he further imagined how much the nation would have saved as billions of dollars being filtered away as expenditure on cadet training and seatime experience abroad.
“It is on this note that we the League join other well-meaning Nigerians and maritime stakeholders to call on the government to disburse without further delay the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) to deserving beneficiaries even as we condemn the secrecy with which the Fund is managed by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). It is appalling that even NIMASA cannot give a good account of how much has accrued into the Fund.
“It is also very incredible that the Nigerian Ship Registry under NIMASA is unmanageable and then very shameful that the modest contributions of the maritime industry is not even ever captured in the macro and micro economic indices measurement space, meaning that we are blinking in the dark while the leadership is quiet like the legendary Chinua Achebe would say. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) is still yet to understand the magnitude of the maritime sector”, he said.
Speaking earlier in his opening speech, the Chairman of the occasion and former Minister of Interior, Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho recalled the role played by the maritime journalists in the past especially in assisting to draft some policy documents and formulations which had in no small measure aided the growth of the sector.
According to him,” We were talking about Cabotage so many years ago, I don’t want to talk about whether Cabotage is a successful policy or not but we absolutely gave it our best when we introduced the subject of Cabotage and we talked about it and we introduced it to our people and then we handed it over to the establishment to implement. Don’t ask me how it has gone because everybody knows the answer.
“We talked about issues like can Nigerians operate vessels that can actually lift crude oil because we really decried the situation that we really have where we were not adding value to our international trade.
“We were exporting our crude in the rawest form and then we left to people who were trading with us, those buying from us to supply the transport element, to add value to it. If you take oil for example, they will take our oil, they will bring their ships, they will take it to their refineries and they will refine it and they will put it back on their ships and they will sell it to us for very high prices.
“We were losing and we continued to point out that we should not be losing, that what we should really be doing is whatever God has put underneath us as a natural resource, if we want to send it abroad any purpose, we must ourselves add value to it either by appending transport to it or by processing it. These are some of the things that we talked about.
“But anyway, we are gathered here this morning and I am pleased to say that we want to continue in the way that we have done in the past because one of the things that we want to do, we are going to recognize some people who had played a very significant roles in the Nigerian maritime sector”.
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