Daily Times Online

OPINION

Issues in cabotage law in Nigeria (II)

BY CHRIS IGBOJEKWE

No one has truly given the cabotage law the bent it deserves, than the newly appointed transport minister. Bearing his mind to one of the dailies on August 22, 2003, the amiable Dr. Abiye Precious Sekibo, who rightly has taken up from where his predecessor, Ojo Maduekwe stopped, remarked, “The Federal Government is considering a cargo support scheme for indigenous oil companies would in the lifting of petroleum liquids to boost local participation in the oil and gas industry.

The scheme, will be in form of favoured cargo allocation according to Sekibo, who stated this in Lagos on Monday. Sekibo said that the measure would “provide the windows of growth for our nation’s vessels fleet, and expansion of local capacity including local building and maintenance”. The minister stated this in an address at the beginning of a one-day visit to the Nation Maritime Authority, as part of his familiarization tour of the parastatals under the ministry.

According to him, there is no better place for the Federal Government to succeed than to ensure that the nation benefited from its crude oil through a sound maritime sector. “The government is determined to succeed and there is no better place to exemplify this than the very linkage between our nation’s economic lifeline, crude oil and world market through shipping”.

“Government is carefully considering the options and opportunities inherent in the industry including the possibility of indigenous participation of tried and tested Nigerian companies through government impelled cargo support and the lifting of petroleum liquids and of course, the imminent Carbotage regime we are looking forward to”, Sekibo said.

From his analysis of the subject matter, it is crystal clear that the government white paper on carbotage regime is yet to be published and so those debutants posing as maritime guru, before unsuspecting oil and service firms, should stop forthwith. Sekibo argued that there is a growing interest in private sector participation in businesses worldwide, especially in shipping, where a greater volume of investment is privately driven in both vessels ownership, port facilities and shipping services.
There is no better place for the Federal Government to succeed than to ensure that the nation benefited from its crude oil through a sound maritime sector.

He stressed that the beneficiaries must, however, reciprocate government’s interest and support by avoiding the abuse of the goodwill, which, he said, resulted in the indebtedness that characterized the scrapped ship Acquisition and Ship Building Fund. He also added that the nation’s maritime involvement would enjoy quality growth and development through the training of its young cadets and the current practitioners and the security of goods and services.

Sekibo therefore, commended the NMA for concentrating on its technical functions, especially the maritime safety operations, adding that the entire world is united, “to ensure a clean and secure environment within which to freely carry out business through the sea routes”.

This clarification became necessary to eschew the entry of wrong hands into the carbotage deck; as the implications of such terror will be too dreadful for nigeria’s nascent democracy to contend with.

•Igbojekwe wrote in from Port Harcourt