Former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Temisanren Omatseye has said that unless there is a different approach to the implementation of the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act otherwise known as the Cabotage Act, the much anticipated disbursement of the Cabotage Vessels Financing Fund (CVFF) will not happen.
Speaking during an exclusive chat in Lagos recently, Omatseye said creating a system that would enable indigenous shipowners have direct access to the fund is the solution to solving the CVFF logjam.
The former NIMASA boss who is eyeing the Presidency of the Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA), also said that the Cabotage Act was designed to fail from inception.
His words, “After ten years Cabotage was enacted to law, it (the CVFF) has not been disbursed. Look at where we are; then something is wrong and we cannot keep doing the same thing over and over and then expect things to change so the government has to do something differently.
“What I can say about the Cabotage Act is that the regulation that was created for Cabotage was created to fail. It is not possible for Cabotage to succeed because we have some aspects that have to do with money and NIMASA staff are not trained to determine credit risk or worthiness of any organization.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria who happened to be the regulator for the financial sector has that role and procedures. How then can you wake up to tell me that is putting money into a fund that you (government) will determine who will get the money among us?”
He said putting so much risk on the four banks selected by NIMASA as the Primary Lending Institutions (PLIs) under the CVFF guidelines has contributed to the failure of the Cabotage regime.
“A system must be created so that NISA members can access that money directly; I found out that the regulation will fail because after reading the Act, I got to know that the Act was created to fail from the beginning.
“NIMASA is the one to tell the PLIs who to give the money to but if the person does not pay back the money, all the risk is on the head of the PLIs. Who will take that kind of thing?” he asked rhetorically.
Omatseye disclosed that the money that was being contributed into the fund belonged to Nigerian shipowners and must be disbursed to them without further delay.
“CVFF belongs to NISA members. They are the ones paying that money. It is their money but you say you want to determine who within us should be given that money; that is not right because NIMASA is only a custodian of the money. The money is for Nigeria shipowners. It is their money that was given to you to disburse,” he stated.
When asked what he did as the DG of NIMASA in removing the bottlenecks he identified as the problem to disbursement of the CVFF, Omatseye said, “It is easy to criticize from the outside but when you are inside, it is difficult to do. Though I approved all the PLIs but I was not comfortable but I have to follow the flow which I did. As the DG, I drove Cabotage in line with the regulation and the law.”