The APC Presidential Campaign Organization (APCPCO) has challenged the federal government and the Nigerian Maritime Administration & Safety Agency (NIMASA) to tell Nigerians what happened to the $800 million and N50 billion of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) which the agency was in control of until recently when the “Fund” became unaccounted for.
Mallam Garba Shehu, Director, Media and Publicity of the APCPCO said that Nigerians deserve to know what happened to the money, and that the agency should make public the list containing names of beneficiaries and amounts from the “Fund” if any.
He explained that the “Fund” was money derived as 2% 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. The Cabotage Act, which was closely modeled after the United States of America’s Jones Act 1938, was to help develop the capacity and participation of indigenous ship owners in coastal inland trade which was largely dominated by foreigners. Up till today, that objective has not been achieved as seen in the depleted Indigenous Ship Owners Registry, the mass unemployed Nigerian Seafarers, and the prevalence of foreign interest in the Nigerian coastal waters,
Malam Shehu said that 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 Fund meant to be accessed by the Nigerian ship owners.
He noted that 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.
He stressed that time is of the essence in publishing the list following fears that the money may have been diverted for other purposes such as the campaign of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, and the submission of a request from the Director General of the agency to proceed on a six-months leave of absence from the agency.