The Shipowners Association of Nigeria has disagreed with the Maritime Administration and Safety Agency’s request for its merger with the Nigerian Indigenous Shipowners Association as a prerequisite over the disbursement of the $350m and N16bn Cabotage Vessels Financing Fund.
NIMASA had last week met with NISA, another faction of shipowners in the country, and asked the two factions to merge to enable it to disburse the Cabotage Vessels Financing Fund.
SOAN has faulted the NIMASA’s request, saying that Cabotage law should be followed in the disbursement of the fund.
It added that coming together of both NISA and SOAN, should not be a criterium for the disbursement of the fund.
It would be recalled that the Chairman of the CVFF committee of NISA, Dr Edward Sowho while speaking with journalists after the committee’s meeting with the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh, in Lagos last week, said Jamoh asked NISA and SAON to merge and become one indigenous shipowners’ association before the CVFF can be disbursed.
He was quoted to have said, “The NIMASA DG asked that before the CVFF will be disbursed, the division among indigenous shipowners must end. That NISA and SOAN must collapse into one body of indigenous shipowners’ groups. Secondly, the NIMASA DG asked that NISA must change the name of its CVFF committee because the Federal Ministry of Transportation is about to set up a committee with that name. The NIMASA DG told us that the Federal Ministry of Transportation cannot have a committee named CVFF committee while NISA also has a committee named CVFF committee.”
Reacting to this, the President of SOAN, McGeorge Onyung, in a telephone conversation with The PUNCH said nobody has the right to bring conditions for the disbursement of the CVFF.
“If a meeting was held, SOAN was not invited and the group was not part of the agenda. So, the people saying that should come together, are they the lawmakers or the national assembly? There is a cabotage law. So, because you held a meeting, the law should not stand. Nobody has the authority to bring his own conditions for the disbursement of the CVFF. There is an act. That is the law, whether you held a meeting or party doesn’t mean that you will drive without a driver.”
He said that coming together was a wish and not part of the requirements for the disbursement of the fund.
“So, if they call us for a meeting and they wish that people should join together that is a wish but the act doesn’t say so. The act does not say, for instance, all farmers that want to benefit from the CBN intervention must be a member of the rice farmers group.”
Meanwhile, a member of NISA, Taiwo Akinpelumi, in a telephone conversation with our correspondent in Lagos, said, “Yes, we met with the NIMASA DG. Nobody said anybody should merge with anybody. What was said was that we should speak with one voice, that members of NISA should come together and speak as one. That we should present one front, that he would love a situation whereby there would be no SOAN or NISA, because a shipowner is a shipowner anywhere. He didn’t say we should merge with SOAN. He only said members should come as one and interface with SOAN so that we can speak with one voice.”