Shipowners Express Lack of Confidence in Disbursement of CVFF

Shipowners operating in the nation’s maritime industry have expressed lack of confidence in the present administration to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Funds (CVFF) before the end of their tenure by May 29. They lamented that it is no longer possible.

The shipowners stated this following the recent suspension of the disbursement by the House of Representatives. This is even as they have promised to engage the incoming administration on the issue.

The Presidential approval for the disbursement of the fund which was obtained about five months ago has seen several assurances by the Minister of Transportation, Mau’zu Sambo who will be leaving office in a few days.

Shipping Position Daily recalls that the House of Representatives recently suspended the planned disbursement of the $700 million CVFF to Nigeria shipping companies by NIMASA.

However, speaking with our correspondent recently, the National President of the Nigerian Ship-owners’ Association (NISA). Otunba Sola Adewumi noted that it is not right for the legislators to stop the disbursement after the Presidential consent.

Adewumi stressed that the current House of Reps will be out in a few weeks and their decision is not binding on the incoming lawmakers. He stressed that ship owners have decided to go on with their plans by putting their records and documents together while engaging the incoming House of Reps in order to access the fund.

He told our correspondent that: “We have made our position known on several occasions that it is absolutely not right. The best we can do is to engage the incoming ones. It is not even funny that the House of Reps passed a motion to stop the disbursement of the fund. Can a motion stop such a thing? Something that the president has already assented to. It is not possible; they don’t have the right. Can we even engage them? No, because they have a few days to go. We don’t even need them. As far as I am concerned, it is just a political statement.

“What we can do is to engage the incoming legislators and we are going on with our plans. The President has already agreed to it. It is like you making the law in the House Reps and it passes through the Senate and goes to the Presidency who assents to it as a law. So, can they come back and say they did not make that law again? It is absolutely not possible. Whatever they do is not even binding on the incoming ones. It is just mere noise making. We are going ahead with our plans and everybody is putting his records together to access the fund” Adewumi said.

On his part, the President of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) Dr. Mkgeorge Onyung lamented the back and forth in the disbursement of the CVFF to indigenous ship owners.

Onyung noted that there is no formal meeting or notice written to the ship owners on the latest development. He stressed that the information obtained are just newspaper publications and speculations from other maritime stakeholders.

When asked about the options left for ship owners, Onyung said: “That question is not for me to answer, what option did we have before? Those who told you the fund will be disbursed should be asked questions. The Minister, DG of NIMASA and the National Assembly are responsible and should be asked questions.

“We have not been told anything about it officially. Anything you hear about the CVFF are just newspaper publications. I can only comment if we get an official letter. We have not been called to any formal meetings. That is the position” Onyung concluded.

Also speaking, the NISA Chairman of the CVFF Committee, Dr. Edward Sowho opined that the new House of Reps would look into the issues of the disbursement and the new government would proceed from there.

Dr Sowho advised ship owners to be calm and wait on the incoming administration through constant engagements without being confrontational.

“Let’s wait for the new government. The government will terminate in a few days from now. The Assembly will also terminate. With the new Assembly we would now look at the issues. But I think we should just be quiet about it. I don’t think we should raise any dust over it. We should be looking at other things and not that for now. Let the new government come forward and from there we can proceed”, Sowho opined.

Another member of the Nigerian Ship Owners Association, Otunba Sola Olatunji stressed that ship owners are left with no option than to engage the incoming administration. He maintained that the incoming administration is very interested in improving the marine economy for the benefit of stakeholders including the Cabotage Act and other interventions such as the CVFF.

“There is no option. It is just an intervention by the House of Reps. We are looking up to when this fund will be finally disbursed. Of course, we do not expect it to happen now but we believe the incoming administration will continue. I am sure the incoming administration is very interested in improving the marine economy to the benefit of stakeholders including the Cabotage law and other interventions such as the CVFF, that is the position,” Olatunji said


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