APC campaign group asks govt, NIMASA to account for cabotage funds
THE APC Presidential Campaign Organisation (APCPCO) Tuesday challenged the Federal Government and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to account for $800 million and N50 billion of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) which the agency was in control of until recently when the “fund” allegedly became unaccounted for.
Spokesperson for the APC campaign group, Mallam Garba Shehu, claimed that the “fund” was money derived as two per cent surcharge for all contracts under the cabotage regime which came into force in 2004 by virtue of the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act (Cabotage) 2003.
He maintained that Nigerians deserved to know what happened to the money accumulated under the CVFF amounting to some $800 million and N50 billion, adding it behooves the agency to make public the list containing names of beneficiaries and amounts from the “fund” if any.
Shehu further stated that time was of the essence in publishing the list following fears that the money may have been diverted for other purposes such as campaign for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate.
He recalled that the Cabotage Act which was closely modeled after the United States of America’s Jones Act 1938 is to help develop the capacity and participation of indigenous ship owners in coastal inland trade which was largely dominated by foreigners.
According to him, the objective is yet to be achieved as seen in the depleted Indigenous Ship Owners Registry, mass unemployed Nigerian seafarers, and the prevalence of foreign interest in the Nigerian coastal waters.
“Instead, the cabotage regime breeds corruption, ranging from request of inducement and gratification from foreign ship owners through their agents for waivers processing by NIMASA and approval of the Federal Ministry of Transport by some top staff of the agency to the disappearance of the CVFF money meant to be accessed by the Nigerian ship owners.
“The website of the Nigerian Ship Owners Association (NISA) shows that 90% of its 78 registered ship owners are on the brink of extinction as they are submerged in debts without the necessary CVFF to access.”
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