By Ajibola Abayomi,
September 5, 2018
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has alleged that the management of Nigerian Maritime Administration (NIMASA under the Jonathan administration had depleted the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) before leaving office.
The fund which recently accumulated to $145 million, is a statutory contributory fund set up by the Federal Government under the Cabotage Act for growing indigenous fleet for purposes of cabotage trading.
Speaking recently in Abuja during the launching of a book on maritime titled; Harnessing Nigeria’s Maritime Assets-Past, Present and Future, Mr. Amaechi said the Buhari administration was not in a hurry to disburse the money to the six shortlisted beneficiaries because the government, does not want the money to go the way of Ship Building and Ship Acquisition Fund (SBSAF).
“I was at an event in Lagos recently where Engr. Greg Ogbeifun was attacking me to disburse the Cabotage fund to them, but I said no. The previous administration blew the Cabotage fund, they spent it, the operators did not say anything to them, but you are telling us to share the money to you now that you have a government that is saving the money for you, you are saying bring it, bring it.”
He said whether one likes or hates NIMASA, the reality today is that you have a new NIMASA. The agency inherited a red ‘economy’, but it has undergone rebirth and is now new. “There is now a new NIMASA,” he stressed.
Mr. Amaechi further said that his main reason for opposing the Maritime University Okerenkoko, Delta State is because NIMASA as a regulator does not have the responsibility of funding a university.
He said President Buhari is tired of hearing trillions and trillions of naira potentials of the maritime industry, “he wants to see the money.”
Reacting, however, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, Chairman Starz Maritime Group, urged the government to disburse the money to the shortlisted operators. According to him, refusing to do that would imply toeing the wrong path the past administration passed through.
“The minister in his remarks made reference to six companies that were shortlisted for the CVFF but instead of disbursing the money to them, it was depleted. Not disbursing it now will amount to doing the wrong thing the past administration did, two wrongs does not make a right.” The money rightly belonged to the operators in Nigeria’s coastal shipping trade because they are the ones contributing the money,” he said.