By Steve Agbota
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has received support from the House of Representatives to disburse the $360 million Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) to qualified Nigerian shipowners.
A committee of the House, in its report, gave the nod for disbursement, at the end of an investigation which was chaired by Barr. Legor Idagbo.
The Committee in its report said it made the following findings: “The Committee requested the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and the Ministry of Transportation to provide detailed information on the total amount accrued to the Fund and disbursements since inception.
“The Committee met with the Minister of Transportation and the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on Thursday, 11 May 2023 to find out about the details concerning the matter.
“After a thorough analysis of the various submissions, coupled with the explanations given by the Ministry and NIMASA, the Committee discovered that due process was followed in the planned disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund.
“The Committee notes that the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) is a fund that was set up in 2003 by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act. The fund was established to develop indigenous ship acquisition capacity and to provide financial assistance to indigenous shipping operators.”
The Committee further notes that there is a lack of capacity amongst indigenous/ Domestic Coastal operators in Nigeria, thus the reason Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPC) still awards contracts to foreign shipping companies in contravention of the Cabotage and Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Acts. Some of these awards have been previously investigated by the Committee, which led to their cancellation.
“It was also discovered that the total funds of $360m in the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) represents 50 per cent while the remaining counterpart funds of 50 per cent is from stakeholders and banks, which is 15 per cent and 35 per cent respectively,” the committee stated.
The Committee commended the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) for its commitment to awarding shipping contracts to indigenous companies that have built capacity to the level where they can successfully execute these contracts.
Reacting, Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh thanked the lawmakers for their interest in verifying the due process being followed by the Agency.
Jamoh who expressed optimism that the NNPCL’s resolve to award maritime contracts to indigenous companies will give strength to the Cabotage regime being championed by the Agency, reaffirmed NIMASA’s transparency resolve in all facets of the Agency’s operation
The DG also called for more stakeholder support, saying the CVFF will evolve into greater benefit for more Nigerians, grow the per capita income and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nigeria, through the maritime industry.