… As template is ready
By Ray Ugochukwu
The much awaited contentious Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) disbursement to merited stakeholders will take place any moment from now as all grey areas leading to its delay have been sorted out.
Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Bashir Jamoh, revealed this in Lagos on Thursday, assuring that the disbursement must happen before the present administration exits on May 29, 2023.
Jamoh, who spoke as the Guest Lecturer at this year’s The Bullion Lecture of the Centre for Financial Journalism (CFJ) held at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, disclosed that the template for the Fund’s disbursement had been worked out with the consultant, Dr Chris Asoluka, a maritime expert.
He added that what remained for its full implementation was the ministerial approval.
The NIMASA boss disclosed that to make the disbursement worth the while, the agency was insisting on a one digit interest rate from the Money Lending Institutions (MLIs).
He made it clear that part of the delay in the disbursement of the Fund, which had been lying idle since 2004, was to ensure that what befell the Ship Building and Ship Acquisition Fund (SASBF) under the defunct National Maritime Authority (NMA) in 1996, did not repeat itself.
Jamoh took time to explain at the lecture, that most of the beneficiaries of the SASBF saw the Fund as their own share of the national cake while just a few repaid the loan till date.
Speaking on the lecture topic, “Banking on Blue Economy for Nigeria’s Economic Development”, the NIMASA Director General made it clear that Blue Economy was not a new phenomenon but one that had exited from creation. He however, blamed its non-recoginition by the country’s industry stakeholders on what he termed ‘seablindness’.
He defined Blue Economy from the World Bank perspective as “the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihood and jobs, while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem”.
According to him, the Blue Economy was hinged on five pillars of sustainability, promoting ocean resources, preservation of ecosystem, economic growth and improved livelihood and jobs.
Jamoh put the worth of the world’s Blue Economy at $24 trillion with Nigeria being the 7th largest in ocean resources potentials ahead of Brazil.
He also disclosed that Blue Economy would create 350 million jobs worldwide only linked to fisheries and wondered why Nigerians were not tapping into the homongous opportunity for the country’s development.
In his words, “Blue Economy is valued at $2.5 trillion per annum; 90 per cent of global trade volume is seaborne; 350 million jobs worldwide linked to fisheries; 34 per cent offshore crude production by aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector, providing 50 per cent of fish for humanity”.
He stressed on Nigeria’s untapped maritime potentials, which he saw as the only avenue the country’s economy could be rescued and the nation’s huge debt overhang resolved.
“Nigeria is blessed with 850 kilometres (km) of coastline, 8,573 km of inland waterways, 200 Exclusive Economic Zone, twelve nautical miles territorial waters and six port complexies of Apapa, Tin Can, Onne, Port Harcourt, Warri and Calabar.
“In addition, Nigeria has 21 oil terminals and more than 10 jetties and 200 million production output. Twenty eight out of 36 states are accessible by water and linked to five neighbouring countries with 10,000 km of waterways that is navigable year-round”, he stated.
Jamoh enumerated the Blue Economy inland assets as Niger North, Niger Central, Upper Benue, Lower Benue, Niger South, Western Littoral, Eastern Littoral and Lake Chad.
The immediate past President, Chartered Institute of Transport and Logistics (CITL), however listed some of the criminal challenges of the country’s Blue Economy as piracy, smuggling and illegal oil bunkering.
Others, he stated, are narcotic-trafficking, arms running, non-payment of taxes, pollution, kidnapping, encroachment and human trafficking.