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Controversy as shipowners fault disbursement process of $350mn, N16bn CVFF

By Steve Agbota

There are indications that some Nigerian indigenous shipowners are not satisfied with the manners and ways the Federal Government planned to disburse the $350 million and N16 billion Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) to genuine indigenous shipowners after 17 years of delay.  

Speaking with newsmen in an interview in Lagos, former President of Indigenous Shipowners Association of Nigeria (ISAN) Capt Niyi Labinjo condemned the non-inclusion of the shipowners in the selection process for the disbursement of the CVFF, knowing that the fund actually belong to them.

“How can you get our money disbursed to us without getting us involved as part of the team of the selection process, they have not done that. Members of the Nigerian shipowners must be among the selection team.

“I am one of the people that took NIMASA to Indonesia to see how their Cabotage is being run, first and foremost, in Cabotage, you must restrict it, we have been running waivers for 19 years now, this means that we are not growing,” he added.

However, he said that the CVFF is useless without the creation of enough cargoes and jobs for the vessels and described the CVFF as an “Esusu” a form of local thrift or contribution, which must be given back to the owners at a particular time.

He hinted that Nigeria has been running waivers for the past 19 years, which is a total failure because local practitioners were not being catered for in the existing Cabotage law, saying that the waivers giving to Pakistan and Indian tanker business owners must come to an end.

“I cannot be excited about this announcement that the fund is now approved for disburse because getting a ship is only one aspect, but ensuring that the ship has employment all through her life is another thing. All our refineries are not working, what would the ships be doing?” he queried.

According to him, in other countries, it is not just the money that is arranged, they also arrange for the jobs, because without cargo, the ship is an ordinary thing, an iron.

His words: “Personally I will never apply because I can’t see the jobs that would enable me recover and pay back the money. If there is no jobs, if you give anybody the CVFF, in another 10 years, you would be running after them.

“When you talk of Cabotage, it must be restricted to your people, by now, we should not have any waiver again, Indians and Pakistanis are the ones getting the waivers because they are the ones running our tanker business, how many Nigerians still have tanker business running? Maybe three, all of them have gone under.

“We have advocated something which they have not complied with, and unless they do so, we would continue to get it wrong.”

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