A group, Maritime Professionals Association (MPA), the initiators of the newly approved national shipping line, the Maritime Professional Association (MPA) has kicked against their non-inclusion in the setting up the shipping firm threatening to take legal action against the authorities.
In interview with Vanguard, the President of the association Dr Chinedu Ogbuagu said that he wrote the proposal that led to the approval of the company, adding that their exclusion from the planning and execution of the entire will lead to its failure.
The marine expert also said that more than half of the entire projects in the maritime industry approved by the minister are proposals he wrote and sent to the ministry through the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
â€œThe minister o Transport had a press conference last week and more than half of the programmes he presented were proposed by me.
The ministry of Transport and NIMASA are at again, they have started their usual antics on the vexed question of a national shipping company.
â€œThey think it’s just Nigerian politics where anything goes, but as usual they are wrong, I proposed a national carrier to them but they now think they can successfully establish it without me.
â€œThey cannot as they could not do it in 1994 when I also proposed a new carrier to replace the bankrupted NNSL and they failed woefully in setting NUL without meâ€
Ogbuagu also showed Vanguard a memorandum emanating from the office of the minister directiong the director general of NIMASA to appraise the proposal sent by the group with a view to approving it.
The memo with reference number T.4252/S.11/T3/15 and dated March 26th 2009 also directed NIMASA\’s chief executive to treat the matter with prompt attention.
Part of the memo reads â€œÂ Memorandum on the establishment of a public limited liability company to be known as Nigeria Shipping Company Plc.
â€œFurther to a memorandum on the establishment if the Nigeria Shipping Company by Messrs NDC Limited, â€œI am directed to request you to forward your comments promptly to the ministryâ€.
The newly approved shipping firm Vanguard gathered will start with three second hand international trading vessels whose cost has been put at N5billion.
â€œThe modalities for the successful take off of this scheme are being finalized with the constitution of an inter-agency Committeeâ€ he added
Part of Ogbuagu’s original proposal reads â€œWe are anxious to help NIMASA to grow the supply side of maritime labour and could not wait to get started in that direction.
â€œSir as you know, growth of maritime manpower could only happen with general shipping development.
â€œSo we have been thinking of how NIMASA could achieve general shipping development which would carry along training of seafarers and other maritime manpower.
We think that the acquisition of at least three training and trading vessels is absolutely necessary to get started in training Nigerian seafarers to globally acceptable standards.
â€œWe also think that this matter of inspecting and acquiring the training vessels deserves your very urgent consideration.
â€œThe trip if approved, would constitute a duty assigned to us under the sought consultancy contract and would, therefore, be subject to incidental expenses.
Mindful of how NNSL and NUL came and went, and fully aware of pitfalls of handling the vessels to an existing private company to manage and/or operate, we strongly recommend the setting up of a public limited liability company to be known as Nigeria Shipping Company Plc (NSC)â€.
The shipping line when functional will occupy the vacuum left by the NNSL and NUL, to provide employment for thousands of Nigerians and earn huge income for the country that are today being lost to foreign ship owners and operators.
The IMO consultant in the said proposal advised that funding for the shipping firm should also be source from the capital market through private placement and public offers to allow for a wide range of ownership.
â€œIn order to quickly acquire enough assets (particularly bottoms) to place it in a competitive position against long- established ship operators, the proposed national carrier should have initial share capital of up to N500billion.
â€œWe think the proposed company should be marketed at both private placement and public offers to prospective and potential subscribers and let the actual subscriptions determine the relative holding of the proposed company’s share by the various shareholders,â€ he stated.