By Piriye Kiyaramo
League of Maritime Editors and Publishers in Nigeria has urged the federal government to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) to deserving ship owners without any further delay, even as the body condemned what it described as “the secrecy with which the fund is manged by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA)”
President of the league, Mr Kingsley Anaroke who stated this on the occasion of body’s 20th anniversary lecture and award ceremony in Lagos on Thursday, described as “appalling NIMASA’s inability to give a good account of how much has accrued into the fund”, lamenting “a situation where the Nigerian Ship Registry under the maritime administration is unmanageable”.
“The modest contributions of the maritime industry are not even captured in the micro and macroeconomic indices measurement space, meaning that we are blinking in the dark while the leadership is quiet. No wonder the Presidency has failed to appreciate the worth of the maritime industry. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) is yet to understand the magnitude of the maritime sector.” He regretted.
Even as industry operators eagerly await federal government’s fulfilment of last year’s pledge to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) to ship owners in the first quarter of 2019, the body decried bureaucracy and legislative myopia as major impediments to the implementation of the Cabotage Act and the CRFFN Act. Adding that “Absence of some legislative instruments are not the problem of the maritime industry, but legislative enforcement and political will to deliver performances and harness the vast potentials that abound in the sector,” he maintained.
He reiterated the urgent need to come up with measures to unlock the maritime potentials to become opportunities, by empowering indigenous maritime operators to grow the industry.
He said the Nigerian maritime journalists and publishers share the fate of Nigerian indigenous ship owners whose operations have been stifled by lack of funds in a business environment where many opportunities exist.
“You can imagine where at least 50 perecnt of Nigerian-profiled ship owners have functional revenue-generating vessels regardless of their sizes, how much job opportunities would have been created in different families.
“Imagine how much the nation would have saved as billions of dollars being frittered away as expenditure on cadet training and sea time experience abroad”, He queried.
The maritime editors’ league president reminded the authorities that maritime media publishers are critical stakeholders in the sector and should be treated as such.
“With about 65 magazines, newspapers and online independent publishers in the sector, they have a combined workforce of over 1255 staff with almost zero advert patronage from the maritime agencies and operators, yet they have been adjudged as the most active in Africa.”
Therefore, the body called on all maritime and port regulatory agencies and private sector operators to avail the maritime press needed support”, saying that the needed support can be expressed within the framework of capacity-building and local content legislation already in place.
The maritime editors promised to take advantage of government and stakeholders’ engagement to drive the needed changes in the sector. “We shall retool and deepen our advocacy strategy, strengthen our capacity in research-based work and investigative reporting; but more importantly, strive to make leaders more accountable to the people.”