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I am ready to stake my integrity over disbursement of CVFF—-Sambo


—Vows to resign if cabotage loans are  given out for political patronage

—-spells out tough eligibility criteria to access loan


The Eyewitness Reporter

The Minister of Transportation, Engr. Muazu Sambo is trying hard to convince a large army of cynics among the maritime stakeholders who are apparently skeptical about the latest approval he secured from President Mohammad Buhari for the disbursement of the controversial Cabotage Vessel Financing Funds(CVFF).

Sambo broke the news of the approval in Lagos on Saturday, December, 10th, 2022 at the flag-off ceremony of the third phase of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme(NSDP).

Since what could have been the cheering news broke out, most of the stakeholders, especially the indigenous operators, who are the direct beneficiaries of the funds, scoffed at the approval, betraying a heavy dose of disbelief and skepticism apparently due to the long weary wait and delay for the disbursement of the funds for over 17 years.

Their cold attitude and skepticism were rooted in what they described as a vain but similar presidential approval which the immediate Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said he secured but never took off.

However, Sambo, who expressed undisguised passion and commitment towards the disbursement, said he was ready to stake his integrity and 35 years of civil service career to show the government’s genuineness and sincerity over the controversial disbursement of the loans.

”I don’t blame people for being skeptical or pessimistic. I can’t come in public and tell people lies.

”Hold me responsible if this fund is not disbursed. I am staking my integrity on approval granted by Mr President”, the Minister vowed.

He explained that the reason why the approval secured by his predecessor did not yield the desired result was due to what he called administrative challenges between the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Finance.

It would be recalled that Ameachi has then cried out that the disbursement of the funds was sabotaged by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Usman Zainab who he accused of laying landmines on the path of the disbursement.

”Under my predecessor who also secured presidential approval to disburse the funds but could not execute the approval was because of some administrative challenges which the Ministry of Transportation had with the Ministry of Finance.

”We have identified those gaps and ensured that in our prayers to Mr President, we addressed those gaps. So our prayers were all-encompassing” the Minister declared.

He revealed that five banks, Union bank, Polaris, Zenith, UBA and Jaiz banks were selected through a rigorous and transparent process as the primary lending institutions(PLIs) to drive the disbursement process.

He said that these banks were selected based on the criteria that were set out in the guidelines

Explaining the guidelines for the disbursement and eligibility of beneficiaries to access the loans, he said the process is anchored on two major planks: the coastal and shipping act which is the enabling law of 2003 otherwise known as the Cabotage Act and the second plank is the guidelines for the disbursement of the funds as approved by the National assembly.

”There are criteria surrounding the choice of the banks and these banks were recommended to Mr. President based on the guidelines which Mr President has approved”, the minister declared.

The minister also explained the steps to recover the loans as embedded in the guidelines for disbursement and eligibility.

”The guidelines are very clear. The applicants for the funds will make an equity contribution of 15 percent, NIMASA will contribute 35 percent while the PLIs, that is the disbursing banks will provide the balance of 50 percent.

”Other additional criteria for legibility will include but are not limited to such things as a contribution to the funds. Those who do not contribute to the funds as two percent of their contracts executed under the Cabotage as provided under the guidelines will not be eligible for the funds.

”Another condition to accessing the funds is the issue of ”off-taking”. If you do not want your loans to go bad, the easiest way to prevent this is to ensure that the applicant has off-takers for his vessels.

”He does this by showing you his contract, the banks carry out due diligence to verify that such a contract is true and genuine and irrevocable. That way, the banks will ensure that all the proceeds from such contracts go straight into the applicant’s loan account which will domicile with the PLIs. The banks call the process domiciliation of payment.

”So under a tripartite agreement, the domiciliation of payment will be guaranteed. So the proceeds from the off-taker on behalf of the beneficiary of the funds go straight into that loans account. That is the way we can guarantee that the loans will be paid back.

The minister said the applicants must have 50 per cent of the money they want to borrow.

”I, the permanent secretary and the incumbent NIMASA management are men and women of integrity and I don’t think any of us will want to be associated with bad loans.

”The other thing we are going to do is to make sure that we have an administrative structure in place. This will not take more than three days in such a way that loan applications are thoroughly and professionally scrutinised to prevent this money from being doled out as a largesse.

”Rather than be part of doling out the loans as largesse, I will reign my office. I cannot have spent 35 years of my life serving this country only to be messed up in one year.

”At my age, I think I want to go back to my creator with clean hands and a conscience”, the minister declared.

On his part, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh disclosed that the funds have naira component and dollar component.

According to him, the funds have acrued up to N16 billion in the naira component and $350million in dollar component.

The minister also disclosed that the presidential approval for the disbursement of the funds came to his office late Friday, December 9th, 2022 while attending a function in Lagos but chose to divulge the information at the flag off ceremony of the third phase of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme(NSDP) held on Saturday where the indeginious ship operators, who are the primary beneficiaries of the funds, would be in attendance and to show the nexus between the ceremony and the disbursement of the funds.

”On Monday,December 12th, 2022, the NIMASA DG will get formal communication from me conveying the approval of Mr President and I expect him to take immediate steps towards the disbursement process”, the Minister directed.





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Traffic gridlock returns to Apapa port as Federal government closes Total bridge for maintainance works

The eyewitness reporter
The relative respite that port users have recently experienced from the malignant traffic gridlock at Apapa port may be over as the Federal Ministry of Works closed down the ever-busy Total bridge to the traffic.
Announcing the temporary closure which is expected to last for two and half months, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) said the measure is to pave way for repairs and maintenance works to be carried out on the bridge.
According to the statement by the authority on its verified Twitter handle, the bridge was closed to the traffic inward Apapa Port Sunday, 26th March 2023 at about 11.35 pm.
To minimise the pains of the resumed traffic gridlock on the port access road, the NPA said it has put in place a traffic control mechanism that is expected to ease the pains of port  road users.
The agency said it has partnered with LASMA, Police, FRSC and the Nigerian Navy to manage the traffic situation and work out alternative routes for motorists.
” To pave way for repair and maintenance works, the Federal ministry of works yesterday closed the TOTAL BRIDGE INWARD APAPA at about 11:35 am on 25th March 2023 to last for two months and a half.

“Given the impact the closure will have on Port users, the Authority in partnership with LASTMA, Police, FRSC, and the Nigerian Navy have worked out alternative routes and are on the ground to manage the traffic situation in the affected areas.

“The Authority wishes to solicit the understanding and cooperation of all stakeholders as we continue to support measures to mitigate the temporary disruptions, the NPA pleaded.

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NIMASA collaborates with NCC to regulate submarine cable operation for enhanced navigational safety on Nigerian waters

The eyewitness reporter

Apparently alarmed by the indiscriminate laying of communication cables and pipelines underneath the Nigerian waters by telecommunications operators and other allied professionals which has the potential of harming the safe navigation of ships, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, (NIMASA) has engaged the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in a strategic discussion to forge a formidable synergy with other relevant stakeholders with a view to developing a regulatory framework to provide operational guidelines for submarine Cable and Pipeline Operators in Nigeria.

Officials of both organs of Government in Lagos reached this agreement at a pre Audit meeting on submarine cable regulation.

The Director General of NIMASA Dr. Bashir Jamoh, who chaired the meeting, which also had the Director General of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR) Mr. Dasuki Arabi in attendance, noted that the Agency is committed to the Ease of Doing Business while implementing International Conventions which Nigeria has ratified and domesticated.

He noted that with Nigeria now a destination for global communication players, the time has come to prevent unregulated underwater cable laying, which might become hazardous to shipping.

According to him, “It is worthy to note that marine cable laying has been ongoing for over two decades in Nigerian waters.

“Our focus is to ensure the safety of navigation of shipping in Nigerian waters with all these underwater cables being laid.

“NIMASA is actually developing the guidelines to regulate submarine cable operators in line with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, UNCLOS; which we have ratified and NIMASA is the Agency of Government in Nigeria responsible for its implementation.

“We do not just implement laws; we consult. Where the responsibility of an Agency stops, that is where the responsibilities of another Agency start.

“Collaboration is a key component of ease of doing business in the best interest of the country and we will work closely with the NCC to achieve this”.

On his part, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, who was represented by the Director, Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement, Efosa Idehen, noted that the stakeholders’ dialogue strategy adopted by NIMASA in developing the guidelines would ensure a win-win situation, urging NIMASA management to include the Ministry of Justice, a request NIMASA DG immediately granted.

Also speaking at the meeting was the Director General of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms Mr. Dasuki Arabi, who commended NIMASA and NCC for adopting effective Inter-Agency collaboration to avert a potential challenge for the country in the future.

NIMASA had notified submarine and cable operators in Nigeria of a soon-to-be-implemented regulatory guideline for submarine cables and pipelines in Nigeria, in line with the provisions of UNCLOS.

NIMASA and the NCC agreed to identify and resolve areas of likely regulatory overlaps, ensuring a regulatory framework based on consultation to engender the attainment of Nigeria’s digital economy transformation.

Officials of the Federal Ministry of Environment and representatives of Submarine Cable operators in Nigeria were also at the meeting.

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Comptroller Nnadi mourns death of retired customs officer,   DCG Sanusi

—–reminiscences on his encounter with late Customs boss
The eyewitness reporter 
Comptroller Dera Nnadi, the Area Controller of the Seme Command of the Nigeria Customs Service, has expressed a deep sense of loss mixed with grief over the death of DCG (rtd) Umar Sanusi
The retired Customs boss died early hours of Sunday 26th, March 2023,  at a private hospital in Abuja and will be buried according to Islamic rites the same day after Muslim prayer in the Abuja Central Mosque.
However,  in an emotion-laden tribute to the late Customs boss, Nnadi bemoaned the death of Sanusi whom he said he admired and revered as a Customs officer.
Recounting his various encounters with the deceased, Nnadi disclosed that the late Sanusi came across to him as a fine, diligent, compassionate, thorough, and core professional officer who was humane, humble, and highly detribalized, the attributes which Comptroller Nnadi said had a deep impression on him
“It is with a heavy heart that I received the news of the death of DCG Rtd Umar Sanusi.  A gentleman officer and an erudite Nigerian.
“My first encounter with the senior officer was in 2003 or so at the  CGC conference in Calabar Cross River State, where, as an Assistant Comptroller of Customs, he presented a report as the  APM Apapa Command.
“It was not common then to present papers and reports in PowerPoint, but he did. This was not the only remarkable thing he did at the conference.
“The then AC Sanusi was detailed in his report, which was a departure from what others presented.
“He was factual and honest and admitted it where things were wrong in NCS  operations at Apapa Command and highlighted them in writing during his presentation.
“This was shocking to the entire audience as it was rare then for officers to admit that their acts while discharging their duties, were not optimal.
“Some attempt by the moderator to stop him was rebuffed by a lone voice.
“One man and indeed the Boss was that voice. The then  CGC now Gbon Gwom Jos Da Elder Jacob Gyang Buba overruled everybody and urged him to continue and to even say more if he has facts.
“He gave him more time than the allotted 30 minutes. There was a pin-drop silence.
“AC Sanusi earned a place in the Service after that encounter. He also earned my admiration as a young Deputy Superintendent of Customs.
“Our path was to cross again when I was posted to Apapa prior to the commencement of the second phase of the NCS and  NPA port reforms, which coincided in 2006.
” AC Sanusi was the APM and  I was the PRO of the Command.
“The NCS reforms included migration from basic  ASYCUDA to ASYCUDA 2.0, the use of the precursor to PAAR called Risk Assessment Report RAR, the introduction of e- Payment regime and the introduction of Non-Intrusive Cargo examination- Scanners all with Apapa Port as the pilot Command.
“On the other hand and going on simultaneously was the port concession which saw NPA handing over to private sector owners of the port facilities.
“The challenges then were enormous, but we survived all through DCG Sanusi’s diligence with the then Comptroller Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo.
“It was a milestone for me and indeed for the senior officer then AC Sanusi. I learnt a lot from him.
“Yet another remarkable encounter with DCG Sanusi was at the NCS Headquarters when he was appointed ACG Headquarters.
“I had gone to greet him and pay homage when he did the “unthinkable” at least in my little understanding of life then.
“After taking my compliments, he offered me a seat and of course, I refused to seat in his presence as an Assistant Comptroller out of courtesy.
“He said ‘Nnadi, I have observed that we are not close anymore and I think this is an opportunity for me to address it’. I was shocked and said it wasn’t so.
“What he said next shocked me. He said ” I know I offended you but I  want to use this opportunity to apologise and request that you work closely with me. As ACG HQ, I will need you around me since you are in SR&P”.
“I  responded that I did not know that he offended me being his junior who respect and admire him. He said I should never mind.
“He offered me a gift, stepped out, shook my hands and gave me a hug.
“I left his office confused, overwhelmed with emotions and thereafter held in greater esteem and awe. His loss is a personal one to me.
“Farewell DCG Umar Sanusi. NCS and indeed Nigeria lost a gem” Nnadi sobbed.
The deceased, Sanusi, who retired in 2019 as DCG, Human Resources Department, died after a brief illness in the early hours of Sunday, 26th March 2023.
Sanusi was earlier appointed Assistant Comptroller General Customs (ACG), Headquarters by Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), in 2015 before he was promoted to DCG in 2018.
Announcing his death, the Public Relations Officer, PTML command of the Service, SC Yakubu Muhammed said
“With heavy heart,i notify us of the demise of DCG AU Sanusi(Rtd).

“He passed on about an hour ago at a private hospital in Abuja. The Janaza prayers hold after the Zuhr prayers (1 pm) at the National Mosque, Abuja In Shaa Allah,”

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