By Jerry Aguigbo
The Maritime Journalists’ Association of Nigeria (MAJAN), has called for the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Funds (CVFF). This is coming at the heels of the official launch of the blue economy assets by President Muhammad Buhari in Lagos tomorrow.
The CVFF was established by the Cabotage and inland shipping Act 2003, to provide finance to operators,to maintain vessels, purchase new vessels, build capacity and create employment.
The fund is derived from two per cent surcharge of of revenue of ship owners in operation from 2004.
The Nigeria Maritime Administration And Safety Agency (NIMASA), have the statutory responsibility to ensure that funds are made available for the CVFF.
An initial $124m domiciled with the CBN, with seven Nigerian banks picked for the disbursement after the screening exercise by the 15 man committee set up by the Transportation Ministry, with about 15 operators said to have been penciled down as possible beneficiaries of the CVFF but even with the approval of the National Assembly, the funds is yet to be disbursed as FMOT refuses to give its accent.
However, MAJAN has commended the Director General of NIMASA, Dr.Bashir Jamoh for his keen vision and drive to acquire needed infrastructure to ensure Nigeria harnesses the enormous Deep Blue Assets.
The President of MAJAN, comrade Ray Ugochukwu, while taking a look at potentials of the Deep Blue Assets with stakeholders yesterday, said NIMASA is trying to ensure a reduction of piracy in the gulf of Guinea and the territorial waters of Nigeria, so that Nigeria can fully tap the the potentials of the Deep Blue economy.
According to him, Singapore is a clear example of countries that have fully tapped its deep blue assets, he urged Nigeria to emulate, because of the benefits deep blue economy.
Further on, the MAJAN President said, ” it was a very good initiative by NIMASA and when fully explored, will become a top revenue earner for the country, shipping and other ancillary businesses will be fully maximized.
It is a noble idea , Nigeria with a coastline 850 kilometers is at a vantage position. The Deep Blue economy if we continue at Jamoh’s speed, will create job opportunities , raise revenue to finance the national budget and raise the GDP.”
The Deep Blue infrastructure, when fully developed, will enhance Maritime security but according to him, it must be a policy initiative to be sustained.
Continuing, the Comrade said, there must be a more intensive collaboration with the private sector and other African stakeholders in the blue economy, noting that Africa with 38 coastal and Island States , 13 million km2 of collective exclusive economic zone(EEzs) and a coastline of over 47,000km, there is an enormous untapped potential Nigeria and other African countries to develop their blue economies, expanding fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, transportation, shipping and inland ports, while enhancing food and energy Security, economic growth and exports, Ocean health and a sustainable use of blue economy resources.