By Godwin ORITSE
The Nigerian Chambers of Shipping (NCS), the Maritime Arbitrator Association of Nigeria (MAAON) and the Nigerian Ship Owners Association (NISA), are currently working round the clock to change Nigeria’s policy on the affreightment of crude oil and refined products.
The move which is being spearheaded by the Chambers is geared towards changing the country’s trade policy from the Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) to Free on Board (FOB) for the inward and outward movement of both the nation’s crude and refined products.
Speaking to Sweetcrude in Lagos, weekend, the Director General of the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping, Mrs Ify Akerele said that it was obvious that some Government officials are working against the interest of the move because of their personal gains.
She, however, vowed to sustain the fight until the Government see the need to change the trade policy in favour of the Nigerian people and the economy.
Akerele noted that after ten years, no progress has been made to show for the implementation of Cabotage Law; “we need to be more practical in our approach to this issue” she added.
Lamenting on the development, the President of the Nigerian Ship Owners Association (NISA), Chief Issac Jolapamo said that his group has gone beyond that stage, adding that NISA has been part of the Presidential retreat where they recommended that the policy be changed to the advantage of Nigerians.
He disclosed that about N2 trillion is lost as freight to foreign carriers on an annual basis adding that with FOB, this amount will be retained in the nation’s economy.
He stated that if the Government changes the policy, it will put local players on better stead; it will also create more than five million jobs for the teeming populations.
In his reaction, maritime lawyer and legal luminary, Mr. Olisa Agbakoba, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said a prudent business man must take full advantage of the business he does.
He said that Nigeria is not taking advantage of its position as an oil and gas producing nation adding that the country needs to change some laws so as to put local shipping operators on a more advantageous position. He maintain that ship owners have instructed them to push their case through, so that they can use the proceeds to develop the shipping sub-sector.
He explained further that even Nigerian banks and insurance firms are short- changed in the entire process of moving both crude and refined products as most of the monies used in transacting these deals are done with the foreign banks like J.P. Morgan.
He noted that these foreign banks do not remit these monies as at when due and use those to trade before they finally remit them.
He said “For example, Shell explore oil, decide on the vessel to carry the crude. Shell has no right to give these businesses to foreigners, Nigerians are the rightful people who should carry the crude to whatever country the government so decide. We need to be more aggressive in controlling our dues “.