Congo backs Nigeria to IMO Council seat

Nigeria’s bid to retain her seat on the Category “C” of the Council of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) got a boost this week when the Government of the Republic of Congo assured the country of her support.
The Vice Minister  for Transport of the country, Monsieur Alexandre Bouyou stated this when the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Captain Adamu Biu led him and his entourage on a courtesy call on the Honourable Minister of Transport, Alhaji Ibrahim Isa Bio in his office in Abuja recently.
According to Kingsley Agha, Deputy Director in charge of public relations in the ministry in a press statement, Monsieur Bouyou had come to also solicit the support of Nigeria for the candidacy of the Director-General of the Congolese Shippers’ Council, Roch Houlamy for the post of the Secretary General of the Union of African Shippers Council (UASC).
The Congolese Vice Minister also said that apart from its support, Congo will campaign for Nigeria in the IMO elections.
Monsieur Bouyou  had earlier extolled the achievements of the Nigerian Ministry of Transport for its activities in improving the standard in the transportation sector especially in Africa and hoped that Nigeria will continue to support the Republic of Congo in her aspirations. He also invoked the spirit of African brotherliness in his quest.
In his reply, the Honourable Minister of Transport, Alhaji Ibrahim Isa Bio, assured his visitor that having shown interest and solicited support, Nigeria will support the Congolese aspirations. He added that African countries need to embrace a unity of purpose such that two (2) African countries should not be jostling for the same position. African countries ought to have the understanding such that one will not antagonize the other in elective positions; rather we should take turns in such circumstances.  He emphasized that such agreements will reduce conflict in the region.
The elections into the IMO elections take place in November in London.

Customs boss rolls out 6 point agenda, promises enhanced package

The new Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), Abdullahi Dikko, has rolled out a six-point agenda for officers and men of the Service, even as he promised an enhanced salary packaged to encourage productivity.
The six-point agenda are as follows: maximizing  the potentials of the Service through capacity building; moral rebirth for discipline and integrity in the Service, in tandem with the nation’s current rebranding; ensuring enhanced welfare package for officers and men of the Service and consolidating on the current e-customs through ASYCUDA for international best practices.
Others, he stated, were continued collaboration and partnering with  stakeholders and  international
organizations; and, fostering mutual understanding between the Service and the general public through
coordinated public relations activities.
A press statement signed by the acting public relations officer of the Service, Joseph Attah, stated that the new helmsman who was speaking to his new management team noted that the impression the general public had of Customs is not right and charged them to work at correcting it.              
According to him, “a new beginning, a fresh orientation is what is expected from us as we tackle corruption and undue harassment of the public in the name of collection of duty. Smuggling has robbed this country of much-needed revenue and also robbed the Customs of its reputation. I intend to confront, head on, the hydra-headed monster of smuggling, side by side with fighting to rid the Service of officers who aid smuggling.”
He further pointed out that the “Customs Service under my watch will break barriers to collection of highest possible revenue for this country. In doing this, I will not ascribe to myself monopoly of knowledge as good suggestions will be welcome from within and outside the Service. I am not averse to constructive criticisms.”
Meanwhile, the Service has announced the re-deployment of 16 Controllers who have since reported to their new posting.

Nigerian Maritime Academy - Oron.

Admission: Rector blames inadequate facilities for complaints

The Rector of Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, Mr. Nseyen Ebong, has said that inadequate facilities in the academy made it impossible to admit more than 500 of the 6,000 aspiring students seeking admission into the school annually. This was in response to the outcry against the admission process in the academy.
Speaking in his office recently, Ebong said that the major constraint of the academy was inadequate lecture halls as well as hostel facilities to enable the school authority meet the increasing number of applicants seeking admission in the academy.
He also noted that the development of more of these infrastructures in the institution would help increase the number of students admitted annually into the academy to pursue a careers in seafaring in the country. He said that work is presently going on with the expansion of classrooms and accommodation facilities.
On the alleged lopsidedness in the admission procedure in favour of indigenes of the Niger- Delta, Ebong noted that the academy under him has not changed the admission procedure of the institution which he met when he became Rector over six years ago, pointing out that the procedure was so easy that virtually anyone could take the list of the applicants and their scores from the test to determine the list of admitted students.
He went on to clarify that at the beginning of every academic year , the institution places advert in two national newspapers notifying intending applicants, after which, an entrance examination is conducted in Lagos, Enugu and Oron in the south and Kaduna, Abuja and Yola for the north.

Matters arising from the Ogoni cleanup

During the last visit to Ilaje in Ondo State as part of the Niger Delta Town Hall meetings, the Vice President told pressmen at a media chat that it is public knowledge that the Ogoni Clean-up exercise had commenced. When Barry, an indigene of Ogoni, was asked about the progress of the cleanup exercise inaugurated by the government last year, he simply responded with a hiss and later said, “We knew they were only handing us a basket full of empty promises; there is no cleanup anywhere and there might never be any. We have accepted fate.” In another instance, the Publicity Secretary of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Fegalo Nsuke said, “The progress made on the Ogoni cleanup is known only to the government.”
The above assertions are indicative of a people that have become disenchanted and completely frustrated. They seem to have lost faith in the government. For many years the people in this area have lived in a dangerously polluted land caused by oil spill as a result of oil exploration and production.
On June 2, 2016 the Federal Government of Nigeria launched the $1billion Ogoni clean-up exercise amidst a visibly elaborate event that drew the attention of the world. The event was truly a befitting platform for the Vice President, who represented the President, to deliver a glowing and uplifting strategy for the project. According to the President, it was not just a clean-up exercise; it was part of a strategic and holistic plan to provide employment for the people of Ogoni. “The methodology for the clean-up will ensure job creation for young people. The agro-allied industries required for processing of agricultural produce will also be put in place,” the President said. But for the people of the land, the most important thing is to have their ancestral ecosystem back. They were more excited about the clean-up exercise, which would restore their normal way of life, including occupation that the existing pollution has taken away from them. Sadly, the fanfare and excitement that characterised the inauguration ended with the departure of the dignitaries.
Two months after the event the President inaugurated the Governing Council and the Board of Trustees of the Trust Fund for the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP). The former Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed was named the Chairperson of the Board. Since her departure to the United Nations, the government has not named a replacement for the Board, which is meant to spearhead the clean-up exercise. Although, there were dissenting views on the composition of the board, but everyone agreed and appreciated the need to clean-up arguably one of the most polluted areas in the world.
More than one year after the initial convoy of activities on the clean-up, there has been an unfortunate logjam. In this case no one seems to know what exactly is responsible for the inactivity. Ogoniland remains the same with toxic waste and without any presence of machineries to commence a clean-up.
The major concern about the project has been the financing model. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its joint venture partners such as Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Total and Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) are expected to make contributions towards the clean-up. However, observers have attributed the delay in the commencement of the exercise to lack of funds despite the impression of funds availability created by the government. In fact, at the inauguration of the HYREP board, Senator Magnus Abe confidently declared that the $1billion needed for the initial phase of the project was readily available and the world renowned financial expert, Mr. Wale Edun was specifically brought on board to assure financiers of integrity of funds management. On the contrary, a report by a leading newspaper in Nigeria revealed that the fund is not available, which is why the project has not fully taken off.
In a country that is just coming out of its first ever recession in 25 years and with an unprecedented increase in debt burden, it is doubtful the government can provide the funds required for the project at the moment. Nonetheless, since the government has committed to implementing the UNEP report, all efforts must be made to fulfil the promise. Further delay in the clean-up exercise will only perpetuate the misery of the people in the area. They have to wake up daily to the sight of a very dangerous environment that can facilitate the development of all kinds of terminal diseases including cancer.
Borrowing from the words of the former UNEP’s Executive Director Achim Steiner, “The people of Ogoniland have paid a high price for the success of Nigeria’s oil industry, enduring a toxic and polluted environment for decades,” and this is definitely not the way to compensate a people that have made such significant contribution to the socio-economic development of our nation. The least our government can do is to commence the clean-up exercise with the hope that the ecosystem of Ogoniland will be restored someday as shown in the UNEP report. Let this not remain another unfulfilled election campaign. Save Ogoniland! 
Copyright 2017 Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to as the source.

The plight of Maritime Academy of Nigeria cadets

The Maritime Academy of Nigeria was established in 1979 to educate and provide the human capital required for the growth and development of the maritime industry in Nigeria. The academy awards Ordinary National Diploma (OND) and Higher National Diploma (HND) to graduates who have fulfilled requirements of their respective programme of study. In its over 40 years of existence, the institution has commendably trained thousands of professionals for the maritime industry in Nigeria. Sadly, this once glorious institution is now a citadel of hopelessness.
In a nation where it has become a norm for an average university graduate to stay at home for some years before securing a befitting employment, some career advisers would counsel that professionalization is a more assuring path to a befitting employment. Well, being a country where the most unlikely events become likely, professionalization does not guarantee a good employment after education anymore. It is more worrying that the cadets from the Maritime Academy of Nigeria are not immune from this prevailing reality.
A significant number of the graduates of the institution in recent times are constantly thrown into the labour market when they are specifically trained to be employed in the maritime industry, which is in dire need of experts to function optimally. It is appalling that some of the graduates have been subjected to hardship and have resorted to menial jobs in order to survive economic hardship. Some of these cadets have become victims of unemployability that has characterised the Nigerian labour market. This is so because the institution currently suffers from inadequate funding and therefore finds it difficult to give adequate training to the sizable number of students that are admitted.
As a result of inadequate funding and the absence of a training vessel and a national shipping line, the institution is often unable to provide the much-needed sea time for the cadets, which is an essential component of their training at the institution. In the pursuit of their passion, some of the cadets take the pain to attend the Regional Maritime University in Ghana to acquire the training that is not available here. In addition, these cadets spend considerable effort in acquiring the necessary certifications needed to become bonafide practitioners in the maritime industry. Yet at the end of their programme, they are confronted with the reality of unemployment.
This phenomenon has been the lot of the cadets for few years now. In 2015, to express his displeasure, a cadet took to social media to express his displeasure over the government’s decision to send 3000 cadets to foreign universities while the cadets in Nigeria are “struggling to have sea time for cadet-ship placement after spending thousands of Naira to get other certification needed to qualify them for suitable positions. Quacks from different field of expertise now flood the industry and NIMASA has turned a blind to the plight of Cadet who has no uncle as Directors or manning agent in shipping companies… sometimes I wonder what is the hope of this few cadets that I have found myself to be among, those who walk the street of Lagos Nigeria from one shipping company to another without any hope of a call back after leaving there curriculum vitae with the receptionist of this company or most times the G.M (gate man).”
In a rather uncharitable manner, attention is gradually shifting towards the Maritime University scheduled to commence in September, yet the academy in Oron is ill-equipped and underfunded. Having more than one maritime institution in the country would have been a commendable feat if they would be well-managed and equipped to fulfil the mandates for their creation Otherwise, establishing new institutions when existing ones are starved is sheer misdirected adventure. The current cadets at the Maritime Academy of Nigeria Oron are not even certain of the fate that awaits them.
Importantly, the government through the Minister of Transportation needs to pay attention to the plight of the young cadets who have dreams of becoming experts in different areas of the maritime industry but have suddenly become sojourners in a dark world of hopelessness. As a matter of urgency, the government needs to show more interest in the running of the institution. It is obvious that the current funding of the academy is not sufficient to provide the much-needed quality training for these cadets. As a result, it becomes difficult for firms to develop interest in employing graduates from the school. The Minister of Transportation should make this a ministerial priority, as it will go a long way in the development of the maritime industry. To reposition the academy necessarily does not require a ministerial committee.
Currently, the cadets of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria live in a hopeless situation due to the absence of government’s attention. To revive the institution only requires a rearrangement of our priority as a nation. The future of some Nigerian youths is at stake here.

Poor implementation of the Cabotage Law

When the nation was plunged into recession last year, many wondered how. And even now that the country has been declared to be out of recession, there are still fears that the exit is a fragile one. The reason for our consistent abysmal progress as a nation is closely linked to our inability to implement laudable policies. We expend valuable resources on developing a framework that can spur growth in the economy, look the other way and further leave the country to bleed. This is how we ignore many sectors that possess the potential of becoming our economic mainstay; a typical example is the maritime industry. In spite of the enormous potential of Nigeria to become a maritime nation, we seem to have deliberately disdained that status and continue to disregard every effort to aspire to that recognition.
The Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act 2003 was enacted with the aim of checking the use of foreign vessels in the domestic coastal trade in Nigeria and to promote the development and growth of indigenous tonnage in the country. The law is absolutely in line with practices in other nations worldwide. All over the world, nations enact laws to ensure that domestic shipping activities are purposely reserved for local investors in order to grow local capacity. So when the law was enacted in 2003, practitioners in the industry were excited, hoping for a new vista in the maritime industry in Nigeria. More than 13 years of the enactment of this law, it has practically failed to achieve its intended purpose owing to poor implementation.
At the 2016 Annual Bankers’ Dinner, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele made a startling revelation that aptly describes the poor implementation of the Cabotage Law. “Out of about 600 ships that operate within our waters, only about 60 of them are owned by Nigerians and are mostly idle, in violation of the Act,” he said. In other words, only about ten percent of the ships operating in Nigeria are owned by Nigerians, whilst the Cabotage Law is aimed at ensuring that all the ships in the domestic maritime business in the country are owned and crewed by Nigerians. Even the ten percent owned by Nigerians are largely starved of jobs, because the foreign operators easily obtain waivers to do the jobs that would have been done by Nigerians. What then is the essence of a law if it cannot be implemented to the benefit of the nation? Reports have it that Nigeria loses about two trillion naira annually to this current state of affairs, enough to fund over 30percent of the country’s current national budget. Sadly, there is no respite in sight.
The comprehensive law also provides for the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund to enable indigenous ship owners acquire ship that will put them in good stead to meet the huge local demands. Currently, it appears the fund, which is being managed by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has failed to achieve the intended purpose, as evident in the assertion by the CBN Governor.
This situation has led to huge job loss and stagnation in the Nigerian maritime industry. Little wonder cadets from the Maritime Academy of Nigeria are mostly unemployed. Beyond the increase in unemployment due to the poor implementation of the law, the current situation also encourages repatriation of profit that would have otherwise remained in the local economy to support the growth of local businesses.  The security implications of the current situation are also enormous. Without casting a doubt on the procedural provisions to ensure safety and national security on the nation’s waterways, no country can completely leave its waterways in the hands of foreign interests the way Nigeria has done. There is obviously something not right about it. In an attempt to correct the anomaly, NIMASA recently announced some policy measures, which include the creation of the NIMASA Cabotage Compliance Strategy (NCCS) as part of a gradual process to implementing the Cabotage Law. Stakeholders have expressed reservation about the new policy because it does not appropriately address the issues and is somewhat diversionary.
The full implementation of the Cabotage Law is an essential aspect of any strategy to develop the maritime industry in Nigeria. A proper implementation of the law will drastically reduce unemployment, generate more revenue for the government, and contribute to the systematic growth of the nation’s maritime industry. In the same way, it will encourage the technological advancement of the country through technology transfer. The Cabotage Law has been commended by stakeholders for its clarity in addressing many pressing issues in the maritime industry in Nigeria. The law does not need any review at the moment; neither does the country require new policies. The only policy required is the political will to implement the Cabotage Law and this must be driven from the top by the Minister of Transportation.
Copyright 2017 Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to as the source.


Senate to investigate large scale maize import by foreigners

The Senate has mandated it committee on agriculture to investigate the large scale importation of maize into the country.
The move followed a motion sponsored by Senator Adamu Aliero ( APC,Kebbi), Senator Abdullahi Adamu (APC,Nasarawa) and Senator Andy Uba ( APC, Anambra) on Wednesday .
Moving the motion, Aliero observed that the Nigerian market is currently flooded with imported maize from Ukraine, Brazil and South Africa.
He noted that the ” imported maize is liable to import duty of only 5%, consequently information available shows that between the month of July and August, more than 10 ships load of maize have bathed in Lagos and Port-Harcourt ports and more ships are likely to arrive between now and December this year;
” Nigerian farmers are seriously put in a disadvantaged position because the landing cost of the imported maize has made it difficult for them to recover their production cost. This invariable means that millions will be out of job next year due to massive importation of maize. The imported and dumped maize sells at much lower prices than the locally grown maize.”
He observed that the beneficiaries of the importation are mostly foreigners whose interest is mainly profiteering at the expense of the Federal Government policy on food security and self-sufficiency which is also geared towards providing employment to the teeming unemployed men and women in our country;
Speaking in same vein, Senator Ali Sabi Abdullahi (APC,Niger ) described the importation of the maize as a threat
In his remark, the Senate president, Senator Bukola Saraki said the development send a wrong signal and that it would negatively affect the country’s quest to diversify the economy.
He urged the committee probing the importation to report back to the Senate in two weeks.