· You are self-serving says Peterside
· I will not release fund, says Amaechi
In a rare outburst on Thursday, the President of the Shipowners Association of Nigeria Engr. Greg Ogbeifun took on both the Minister of Transport Hon. Rotimi Amaechi and the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside with both regulators fiercely responding.
Speaking at the end of year workshop and dinner of the association on the theme Giving a Critical Lifeline to the Nigerian Maritime Industry, Engr. Ogbeifun stated that Nigeria lost the recent IMO Council election because “our maritime domain is sick and almost moribund” and “we are not a nation that can be relied on for maritime trade, maritime security, maritime infrastructure or for seafarers and other maritime professionals.”
According to him, “we have ignorantly believed that to win election into the IMO Council is by political lobbying, flaunting our economic influence by reason of our vast natural resources which we have failed to appropriately harness to impact the lives and fortunes of our vast population.”
Describing NIMASA as “extremely weak”, Ogbeifun lamented that “instead of engaging and collaborating with stakeholders, shipowners, ship repairers and maritime security providers to grow the industry, they (NIMASA) only specialise in collecting levies and revenues and meting out punitive measures on these stakeholders such as arrests, threats and shutdown of ship repair yards with the accompanying consequences to the industry which the international maritime communities and the IMO are observing”.
He accused NIMASA of “spending and squandering huge sums of money developing other nations’ maritime industries and institutions at the expense of ours by sending young Nigerians to various institutions round the world for incomplete training as seafarers” without funding the Maritime Academy of Nigeria Oron.
Taking on the Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi, Ogbeifun accused him of lacking the political will to implement the recommendations of a committee the minister set up to revamp and restructure the maritime administration and make it more attractive for international patronage.
He regretted that the nation’s cabotage fleet has diminished considerably despite the 2% contribution of vessel owners to the “infamous CVFF” because “there has been no response from the maritime administration”.
He ended by advising the minister to “evaluate the people who have been appointed into positions to deliver their expected mandate and where possible, take out non-performing persons and appoint more eligible and knowledgeable persons to turn things around for our industry.”
Reacting swiftly, Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi accused shipowners of “asking for free money”, and insisted that he will “not release the fund”.
He revealed that he had already given directive to the NIMASA Director General to implement the recommendations of the committee on revamping and restructuring the maritime administration, and that he has commissioned a performance audit of key agencies and departments under the ministry headed by Ifueko Omogui-Okauro.
Director General of NIMASA Dr. Dakuku Peterside excoriated Ogbeifun for his criticisms, describing them as “garrulous, unsupportable and should not have been made.”
Noting that 60% of the committee’s recommendations have already been implemented, he denied the lack of political will in the administration, noting that the administration will ensure compliance with its mandates without abusing its powers.
He described the floating dock project of the agency as a critical national intervention which will save the country over $100million over the next two years. According to him, contrary to Ogbeifun’s suggestions, the CVFF has only $100million and not N100billion.