… Allege plans to use CVFF to fund Buhari re- election campaign
By Oluyinka Onigbinde
Stakeholders in the maritime industry have criticized the Minister of Transportation Rotimi Chibuike Ameachi over the non disbursement of the Cabottage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) which is long overdue for disbursement.
The CVFF is a two per cent contribution by indigenous ship owners for every contract they execute and is meant for the development of the cabotage fleet and local shipping capacity.
The CVFF which currently stands at over N100billion was created solely to empower local ship owners in the industry to enable them compete favourably with their foreign counterparts.
Recalled that Ameachi had in a meeting with ship owners and key stakeholders in the maritime industry last year vowed that as long as he remained the minister, the fund would not be disbursed dashing the hopes and expectations of indigenous ship owners who have been waiting for the disbursement of the fund for more than a decade.
The CVFF currently domiciled in the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety (NIMASA) has become an issue of controversy as past administrations of the agency were not able to disburse it.
However, in a recent chat with some indigenous ship owners they berated the lackadaisical attitude of the Minister of Transportation over the non disbursement of CVFF. A ship owner and close ally of the minister who pleaded anonymity said there were plans already to use the CVFF to fund the 2019 general election of President Muhammadu Buhari as some cabals in the presidential cabinet had mounted pressure on the minister to use the fund for the said purpose.
It will be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari recently reappointed Rotimi Amaechi as the director of his 2019 presidential election campaign, making the latest and strongest indication that the Nigerian leader is determined to retain his seat.
Also speaking with Prince Ayorinde Adedoyin an indigenous ship owner also berated the body language of the Minister and the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) regarding the disbursement of the CVFF.
According to him “ the CVFF belongs to ship owners, so, why should anybody want to use that to fund any election, it does not belong to the minister, neither does the money belong to the NIMASA man, the fund is for the ship owners and it must be disbursed to ship owners.
“The body language of the minister does not show that he is ready to disburse the fund and this is quite bad for us as a nation despite the fact that our maritime domain is sick, “he said.
Amaechi had late last year explained that he would not disburse the fund because the ship-owners were looking for free money, stressing that a similar lifeline given to operators in the aviation industry was diverted to other areas, different from the purpose the fund was disbursed.
He, however, denied claims that funds in the CVFF had exceeded the N100 billion mark because the previous management of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) spent a large chunk of the funds on building maritime institutions.
Efforts to get the reaction of the Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi proved abortive as there was no response to several calls and messages sent to him as at the time of filling this report.