The federal government and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) should explain to Nigerians what happened to the $800 million (US Dollars) and N50 billion of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) under the agency, the Buhari campaign office has demanded.
The fund contains money derived as two percent surcharge for all contracts under the cabotage regime which came into force in 2004 by virtue of the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act (Cabotage) 2003.
The Cabotage Act which was closely modeled after the United States of America’s Jones Act 1938 was to help develop the capacity and participation of indigenous ship owners in coastal inland trade which was largely dominated by foreigners.
“But to date that objective is yet to be achieved as seen in the depleted Indigenous Ship Owners Registry, the mass unemployed Nigerian Seafarers, and the prevalence of foreign interest in the Nigerian coastal waters,” the campaign media and publicity director Malam Garba Shehu said in a statement.
The cabotage regime, the opposition campaign office said, instead breeds corruption, ranging from request of inducement and gratification from foreign ship owners through their agents for waivers processing by NIMASA and approval of the Federal Ministry of Transport by some top staff of the agency to the disappearance of the CVFF Fund meant to be accessed by the Nigerian ship owners.
The website of the Nigerian Ship Owners Association (NISA) shows that 90% of its 78 registered ship owners are on the brink of extinction as they are submerged in debts without the necessary CVFF to access, the statement said.
"Nigerians deserve to know what happened to the money accumulated under the CVFF Fund amounting to some $800 million US Dollars and NN50 billion respectively that the agency should make public the list containing names of beneficiaries and amounts from the “Fund” if any," the opposition campaign office said.
The spokesperson said time is of the essence in publishing the list following fears that the money may have been diverted for other purposes like campaign for the PDP presidential candidate, and the submission of a request from the director general of the agency to proceed on a six months leave of absence from the agency.
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