By Godfrey Bivbere
Nigeria Maritime AdministrationÂ and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has chosen Fidelity, Skye, Diamond and Equitorial Trust Banks for the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF).
Vanguard gathered that the four banks which have been given letters of authority to that effect were selected after a rigorous process which included their experience and expertise of maritime business.
A source in NIMASA told Vanguard that the selection process was very rigorous and it included visits and evaluation of the depth of the maritime desk of each of the applicants.
The source also disclosed that other criteria considered in the award of the disbursement right to the four banks are their risk analysis model, governing system and post Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) audit report.
According to the source, â€œwe looked at their risk analysis model, governing system and post CBNâ€™s audit report are the criteriaâ€™s for the selection of the banks as Public Lending Institutions (PLI).â€
The source also said that the four banks are to guarantee the CVFF as well as put up a 35 per cent contribution to the loan system. The source also assured that the actual disbursement would commence in a better of weeks.
It would be recalled that the Indigenous Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (ISAN) has severally stressed the need for government to seek its input in the planned disbursement of the CVFF.
ISAN noted that the involvement of the group in the planned disbursement is necessary because it would help to ensure that the fund gets to practitioners and is used for the purpose for which it is meant.
Speaking on behalf of ISAN, its Chairman, Chief Isaac Jolapamo, said unless this is done, the funds would end up in the hands of wrong persons and thereby defeating governmentâ€™s planned improvement of the shipping sector of the nationâ€™s maritime industry.
According to Jolapamo, â€œISAN is fighting it now that whoever is going to get that fund should have ISANâ€™s input because we know who the operators are, even if they are not ISAN members. We know you canâ€™t do something like this in Nigeria without having some percentage to give out for politic patronage but not to the extent that it would be cornered by just anybody.â€
He, however, said the major problem is not the disbursement of the fund but refusal of chatterers to engage their vessels and the need for government to put in place adequate laws to make operators who borrow from the banks for ship financing pay back as is obtainable in other parts of the world.
In his words, â€œOur major problem is not about the money that NIMASA is giving out, but the fact remains that all you need is a god-the-father who is the charterer that takes the vessels. Secondly is you, the ship owner who is the god-the-son and thirdly is the bank who finances you, the holy spirit. If one is missing, then there is a problem.
â€œWe are missing one – god-the-father, the charterer. If we are patronised, if they drop the foreign ships and allow Nigerians to take over, the table will turn. I recently said that banks should have a legal framework that states that when they lend money to people (ship owners) and if they do not pay back the money on time, there is jail term waiting for them. Such are the kind of laws put in place in advanced countries where you want to develop shipping but, of course, shipping is a vast area and that is where you have the best of crooks.â€