The Presidential Campaign Organisation of the All Progressives Congress has challenged the Federal Government and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency to account for the $800 million and N50 billion of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund.
The APC campaign said NIMASA had control of the funds until recently when the “fund” became unaccounted for.
This was contained in a statement signed by the campaign’s Director of Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu in Abuja, on Tuesday.
He explained that the “fund” was money derived as two per cent surcharge for all contracts under the Cabotage regime which came into force in 2004 by the virtue of the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act (Cabotage) 2003.
Shehu said the Cabotage Act, which was closely modelled 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.
He, however, said that till date the 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 interests in the Nigerian coastal waters.
The statement partly read “Instead, the Cabotage regime 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 workers 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 shows that 90 per cent of its 78 registered ship owners are on the brink of extinction as they are submerged in debts without the necessary CVFF to access.”
Shehu, also said that Nigerians deserve to know what happened to the money accumulated under the CVFF Fund amounting to some $800m and N50 billion respectively that the agency should make public the list containing names of beneficiaries and amounts from the “fund” if any.