The Senate on Wednesday at the plenary mandated its Committee on Local Content to investigate reasons for the dominance of foreign vessels above locally owned and registered vessels in the domestic carriage of petroleum products within coastal inland waterways of Nigeria.
The resolution of Senate is a sequel to a motion on urgent need to investigate a breach of Nigerian laws by foreign vessels in coastal shipping of petroleum products in the downstream sector of the Nigerian maritime industry.
The motion was sponsored by Sen.Mustapha Ramoni (APC Ogun) and co-sponsored by 10 other senators.
Presenting the motion, Ramoni said Nigerian Content Act 2010 was enacted to promote value addition to the national economy by stimulating growth and industrial development in the oil and gas sector.
He said the influx of foreign vessels into Nigeria downstream sector was alarming against the coastal and inland shipping Cabotage Act of 2003.
He said the act clearly states that vessels engaged in domestic coastal trade to be wholly owned, manned and registered Nigerian vessels and can engage in domestic coastal carriage of petroleum products within the coastal inland waterways.
He said that more than 15 years, indigenous tonnage capacity and coastal shipping capabilities have grown remarkably with Nigerian operators owning multiple tanker vessels in their fleet.
He said that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was the largest employer of downstream shipping services in Africa on account of its Direct Sale and Direct Purchase(DSDP) of petroleum products and vessels service contracts.
He said in spite of the numerous opportunities generated via the activities of DSDP, indigenous capacity and capabilities have not been enhanced.
According to him, the value of DSDP for 2019/2020 contract period is at the range of nine billion dollars out of which foreign ship-owners amounted to 100 per cent freight overseas.
Contributing to the motion, Sen.Ibikunle Amosu, who seconded the motion urged his colleagues to support the motion.
He said the adoption of the motion would stop capital freight, create jobs, increase technology and ultimately improve local content.
Following the debate, the Senate in a unanimous voice vote also mandated the committee to also carry out an investigation on the level of patronage of Nigerian shipping companies.
It also mandated the committee to investigate foreign ships owners and freight associated with downstream activities that were repatriated overseas by NNPC to the detriment of local patronage.
Earlier at plenary, the Senate referred to its Committee on Finance, request of President Muhammadu Buhari for confirmation and appointment of Chairman and Members of Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) for further legislative inputs and report back in one week.
In a related development, it also referred the request of President Buhari seeking the confirmation of newly appointed Chairman for the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Mr Edward Adamu to Committee on Banking and Insurance for further legislative inputs and report back in one week.
It also considered four bills for second reading at plenary.
The four bills are Bill for an Act to alter the provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to designate a definite and certain day for convening the first session and inauguration of Elected Members of National and State Assemblies by Sen.Suswan Gabriel (PDP Benue).
Others are a bill for an Act to repeal the Federal Road Maintenance Agency Act 2002 to Establish the Federal Road Authority to provide for ownership, regulation, management and development of federal roads networks by Sen.Bassey Henry (PDP Cross River).
The Senate also at the plenary considered first reading of six bills.
Among the bills presented for first reading is Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 Alteration Bill, 2019 sponsored by Sen.Gyang Istifanus (APC Plateau) and Federal University of Technology Oko Establishment Bill, 2019 by Sen. Ifeanyi Ubah (YPP Anambra), among others.