By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA Lagos
A maritime law specialist has recommended that Nigeria should construct a sustainable local ship building industry through the use of Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF).
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Jean Chiazor Anishere, made the recommendation at a one-day colloquium organized by maritime journalists in Lagos on Thursday in honour of the late Otunba Kunle Folarin.
For effective administration of Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund, Anishere said that it is imperative to develop a clear financing mechanism.
Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund was established by the government of Nigeria and to be managed by Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) with support from private institutions, namely, commercial banks, Anishere explained.
She also recommended the encouragement of local participation, and streamlining of vessel acquisition process in order to make efficient use of CVFF.
Elaborating on her recommendations, the senior advocate said that developing a clear financing mechanism for CVFF will ensure successful disbursement of the fund, so that the Fund will not be moribund.
“This will include guidelines on how to apply for the fund, as well as criteria for evaluating and approving applications.
“It’s also important to have a system in place for monitoring and reporting on the the use of this fund.
“The public need to know what is happening. It is not enough for you to tell us that the CVFF has finally identified the beneficiaries; we want feedback,” Anishere argued.
She emphasized that there is a need to encourage local participation because the Cabotage regime is all about domestic development of Nigeria’s maritime trade.
“The CVFF is the creation of the Cabotage Act 2003. It’s about developing the national fleet, improving our domestic trade, creating jobs, so we need to encourage local participation which is one of the key goals of the CVFF,” Anishere explained.
She pointed out that streamlining the vessel acquisition process to make more efficient use of the CVFF may include measures such as simplifying port procedure, eliminating bureaucratic barriers and reducing the time associated with acquiring vessels.
The SAN asserted that building a sustainable local ship industry will create job opportunities, improve the country’s maritime infrastructure, among other benefits.
“We need to monitor and evaluate the impact of the fund on the development of Nigerian maritime industry.
“It’s important to note the importance of employing qualified professionals that can help in the disbursement process. Professionals should be engaged by NIMASA ,” Anishere stated.
She expressed hope that if the CVFF is properly disbursed to Nigerian ship owners it will move the maritime industry and Nigeria forward.
On the occasion, Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos State Council, Comrade Adeleye Ajayi, called on maritime stakeholders to immortalize the late Otunba Kunle Folarin, and desribed him as an encyclopedia of the maritime industry and a maritime economist.
“The legacy of Otunba Kunle Folarin must be sustained so that the present and future generations can tap from his wealth of experience.
“I also want that he should be immortalized and his works published in a book format so that maritime professionals can live to tap from his wealth of knowledge,” the NUJ Lagos Council leader recommended.
He said that from what he knew about Folarin, he had rare powers of memory as he justified his claims with facts and figures.
“Otunba Kunle Folarin was a reporter’s delighted. Whenever you call Folarin either on phone or physically he will be rolling out facts and figures. He was a maritime economist,” Ajayi asserted.