Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, while speaking to the Senate Committee, yesterday 20th January, in Abuja claimed that a certain foreign investor (name not mentioned) eloped with the sum of N32bn under GEJ administration. The money was paid from the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), which the indigenous ship owners last month has tasked Amaechi and Acting Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA Director, General Haruna Baba Jauro, to speak up on the issue.
The news according to TheHeraldng said, the Minister revealed that about N300 billion was released to encourage investors in the maritime sector by the last administration but the many went down the drain. In his exact statement, the Minister said:
“In fact, there is a particular man who collected N32billion and left the country. I don’t think that the Federal Government needed to release N52bn to investors in the maritime industry.
“What we are considering is to facilitate a partnership arrangement between the operators and foreign investors in which case we can support Nigerians who had shown serious interest in the business with about 40 percent of the investment while their foreign partners bring 60 percent. That will assure us that we would recoup our investment.
“One of those who collected the aviation bailout who has done nothing with the money is walking freely on the streets of Nigeria; his airline is dead and he did not even deem it fit to inform the ministry.”
Proposal To Scrape NIMASA
Mr. Ameachi proposed that the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) be scrapped due to the massive fraudulent activities that goes on in the Institution. And he further complained that NIMASA has nothing to show for the N62bn revenue it generated in 2015.
The Minister backed his claim by citing the fact that there is lack of adequate equipment at the agency’s search and rescue unit meant to monitor movement of vessels and provide treatment for injured personnel. He insisted the agency is useless since it does not carry out the duties it was instituted for but rather, they outsource their duties.
In his outrage the Minister said:
“Currently, the way NIMASA is, if you look at it very well, it was worse in the last administration. It was as if it was established just for the purpose of collecting money and nothing more. What we need to do is to ensure that NIMASA discharges its core responsibilities.
“If NIMASA outsources its core responsibility, then it has no business existing. If it is just to collect money from individuals, anybody can do that. We can hire a tax collector to collect money from maritime operators on behalf of Federal Ministry of Transport.
So, it is either NIMASA sits up and carries out its own responsibility or we come to the National Assembly to repeal the Act which sets it up and allow the Department of Marine Security in the Ministry of Transportation to discharge all responsibilities currently being carried out by NIMASA.”
Amaechi Opposes New NIMASA School
The minister also opposed the construction of a new school proposed by NIMASA, citing that it is unnecessary and a way to misappropriation of more funds.
“We are not going ahead with the university project proposed by NIMASA because we have an institution in Oron, we have Nigeria Institute of Transport Technology, Zaria, and we have the Nigerian College of Aviation in Zaria which we could upgrade to a University status and NIMASA is proposing to build a new one”.
The former President Goodluck Jonathan had approved that the NIMASA University should be located at Okerenkoko, Warri South West Local Government.
“Who will attend the University? How many parents will allow their children to go to such place where it proposes to site the University? What is the aim of the University that we cannot achieve in Oron where they have all the necessary infrastructure.
“I don’t think we are proceeding with the university being proposed by NIMASA because it is a waste of resources and unfortunately a lot of money had already been released for the University project hence there is no structure on ground but just the feasibility study.”
He further advised whoever that is holding on to the money to better return it, since the Chinese company contracted has confirmed that only the feasibility study was in place.
In further talks Ameachi explained that plans had been put in place to ensure that the dollar revenue accruable to NIMASA was paid directly to the Federation Account to boost foreign exchange for the country.