13 February 2016, Lagos — Amidst insinuations that the money in the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund, CVFF, had been spent or diverted to private pockets, the acting Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Mr. Haruna Jauro has said the fund was intact.
CVFF was established by the federal government to help indigenous ship owners procure vessels or maintain existing ones but it has not been disbursed in spite of repeated promises by successive Ministers of Transport and the Directors General of NIMASA to do so.
CVFF is a pool of fund collected from ships involved in coastal operations in the country. It is warehoused by NIMASA to be borrowed by Nigerian ship owners from some selected commercial banks designated as primary lending institutions (PLIs).
The failure to disburse the funds over the years had led to speculations in some quarters that the fund had been looted by some top government quarters.
Speaking when the Senate Committee visited NIMASA office in Lagos, Jauro dispelled insinuations that the account of the CVFF has been depleted.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Ahmed Sani accompanied by other members were in the agency as part of their oversight functions.
The acting DG told members of the committee that the fund which had grown to over N51 billion remains intact.
Jauro also disclosed that NIMASA remitted $140.8 million (N42.22billion) into the federation account in five years, adding that the agency collected $270 million revenue from vessels belonging to the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG) in 2015.
He, however, explained that the remittance was not inclusive of the N4, 985, 000, 000 and $39, 025, 017 operating surplus for last year which was also remitted to the federation account.
He said that so far, only statutory revenue disbursements of the agency, which include a 25 per cent maritime fund and five per cent development for the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, Akwa Ibom State had been undertaken.
Giving an insight into how the agency has fared in the last five years, he revealed that N450 million was remitted to government coffers in 2011; N6, 441, 383, 583 in 2012; N13, 833,431,883 in 2013; N9,732,349,682 in 2014; and N11,770,978,562 in 2015.
According to him, the agency has registered no fewer than 1,975 vessels in its ship registry. He said the agency was now dutifully discharging all the functions it is statutorilysaddled with, especially the responsibility of shipping development and regulatory matters relating to merchant shipping and seafarers.
Other responsibilities of the agency, according to him, include administration and regulation of shipping licenses, administration, regulation and certification of seafarers, establishment of maritime training and safety standards, regulation of safety of shipping as regards the construction of ships and navigation, provision of maritime search and rescue services
He said that NIMASA provides direction and ensure compliance with vessels security measures, carry out air and coastal surveillance and control and prevent maritime pollution among others
In his response, Sani noted that the committee was actually in the agency to perform its oversight function so as to ensure that government agencies manage their resources prudently in the best interest of Nigerians.
He maintained that the issue of corruption, which has become a norm in the society, must be eradicated.
The Senator explained that the committee was in the agency to beam its searchlight into the activities of NIMASA in the past years.
He called for the full cooperation of the management, particularly in releasing vital information that would guide the committee in the discharge of its statutory roles and responsibilities.
*John Iwori – Thisday