By Ambrose Okehi
Stakeholders in the maritime industry particularly the maritime media have expressed dissatisfaction and discomfort over what they called extravagant spending and waste of resources that would have channeled into other meaningful and benefiting venture at a time when the local operators are almost out of operations.
The concern over the out-of-place spending on so-called dinner nite by NIMASA is coming on heal of the just concluded League of Maritime Editors’s 20th anniversary held on Thursday, January, 20I9 at Golden Gate Restaurant, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Before this latest outburst by these maritime editors, some online media had picked holes into this year’s dinner night packaged by the agency.
After critically assessing and analysing the hard time and situation in the industry, the League of Maritime Editors and Publishers said that 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 it packaged recently at the Eko Hotels, Lagos looking at how is particularly when the indigenous shipowners cannot partake lifting of our crude oil as they are currently being sidelined whereas the foreign shipowners are the ones dominating the business of wet cargo afreightment.
They are also worried that this is even happening when many of such our 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.
Speaking at the event, the President of the League of Maritime Editors, Mr. Kingsley Anaroke who disclosed the position of the League while delivering his welcome address at the 20th Anniversary Lecture/Awards and Patrons’ Investiture ceremony equally observed that a successful voyage means employment opportunities for a Captain, his crew members to create of wealth for the parties involved in the business of shipping for more investment.
According to the Anaroke, “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”.
Anaroke gave a scenario where at least 50 percent of Nigerian 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.”
The Chairman of the occasion and former Minister of Interior, Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho, who spoke earlier at the event 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.
Captain Iheanacho further added: ”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 ship and send to us.”