CABOTAGE : Sea Scout Commissioner tells Nigeria Federal Government what to do to create 50, 000 jobs
BREAKING : CABOTAGE Sea scouts Commissioner tells Federal Government what to do to create 50, 000 jobs , accuses FG of underutilizing CABOTAGE ACT
By :Temple Micheal PH.D
A National Headquarters Commissioner for Sea scout in the scout association of Nigeria has accused the federal government of not delivering the coastal and inland shipping industry act otherwise known as" CABOTAGE law
The Headquarters Commissioner Raji Q Bomodeoku who was fielding questions from sea scouts at the Organization's Capacity building seminar at the Navy Sailing Club, Ojo Lagos said this while answering questions on the massive unemployment in the maritime sector for Nigerian seafarers despite the dire need of manpower in the industry. Raji said this in the presence of a formal maritime marketing Director A. W Adetola.
Raji accused the federal Government of attempting certain policies in order to experiment, as to whether it will work for them and then they tap into its exploits. He said some governments venture into specific policies because some counterpart nations have successfully experimented and they believe they can do it too. Whatever category Nigeria falls into, looking analytically at the policy upon which the Nigerian Cabotage law is anchored, Ministerial waiver in the event that there are no indigenous capacities to carry out the objectives as spelt out in the Act. You will detect the challenges encountered at different stages of implementation by FG and its resolve for granting waivers as the only achievable portion of the act.
Raji who is an Associate of the Certified Institute of Shipping of Nigeria contends that what Nigeria stands to gain by Cabotage law is now whoosis and the entire CABOTAGE legal apparatus had had objective miscarriage as against the benefits as seen in US or in Australia where same waiver is granted .
He continued by adding that the country had 22.5 billion cubic meter of petroleum besides other hydrocarbon derivatives on her 870 coastline and about 3000km inland waters.
The significant impacts these natural endowments would add to the earnings of Nigeria in the international market is directly proportional to the activities in the maritime industry where the unemployed Seafarers of which some are sea scouts are supposed to fit in for . The Sea scout Commissioner noted that the oil and gas industry as the leading sector in Nigeria coastwise trade is made of approximately 95 per cent of coastal and inland shipping while freighters, fishing trawlers, chandlers, chatterers and other carriers are made of the remaining 5 per cent which signify a massive business opportunities for the shipping industry as well as creating a lot of employment opportunities for a lot of jobless Seafarers and the Nigerian youths which in a way will reduce the rates of unemployment and poverty, by so doing, it would encourage Nigeria in the achievement of the SDG.
Raji continued that the attainment of a robust oil industry is proportional to the maritime activities on the Nation's coastline. He further stated that almost Fifty Thousand (50,000) Americans in Thirty Three (33) States are directly employed in building, repairing, and maintaining the Jones Act's fleets. American shipyards employing these workers generates over $1 Billion (One Billion Dollars) in an annum.
Africa has demonstrated the slowest progress in developing her maritime industry in spite of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) which sought to promote regional and co-operation arrangements and WTO equilibrium trade.
The Cabotage act has in it amendment that ;
2.2 The Cabotage Regime
The Cabotage Regime under the Cabotage Act 2003 is spelt out in section 2 (a) - (d). The parameters of the Nigerian Cabotage regime are stated in Sections 3 of the Cabotage Act as follows:
(a) Cabotage Vessel must be wholly owned by Nigerian Citizens;
(b) Cabotage Vessel must be manned by Nigeria Citizens;
(c) Cabotage Vessels must be registered by Nigerians;
(d) Cabotage Vessels must be built by Nigerian shipyards.
It follows that in the event of non availability of certain local capacity, the Act introduced a liberal Cabotage policy in which three of the four parameters can be waived. The Act insists that the shipping companies must be incorporated by the Corporate Affairs Commission under CAMA, LFN, 2004. The Cabotage Act went ahead to preserve the rights of foreign investors under the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission Act, Cap N17, LFN 2004 by establishing a Special Register for Cabotage (Fully Foreign Owned Vessel) for Foreign owned Vessels engaged in Cabotage trade (Implementation Guide)
Raji questioned on the percentage of the CABOTAGE parameters that have been achieved under its regime?
Where are the docks or shipyards? How many of such yards has government built to encourage indigenous investment?
Where are the local players ?
How much has the government committed to seeing the adjustability of the foreign investors dominated Nigeria Coastal and Inland Shipping industry to an indigenous based plato?
How many of our seafarers are contracted/employed on fully foreign CABOTAGE vessels?
Raji submitted that one of the impediments that have militated against the survivor of the CABOTAGE was the ministerial Waiver.
He questioned that what do you say of enacting a law that only Nigerians can grow rice in Nigeria and opening a substitute for foreign participation in growing same crop where Nigerians had no capacity. Is that not an exotic competition and downgrade of indigenous competency ? Who made the Local capacities incapacitated to give waiver to foreigners? Why the waivers for foreign investors where you are not growing local effort to compete favorably?
Raji Bomodeoku asked the federal Government and indigenous Ship owners to intensify collaboration to build a formidable indigenous capacity .He asked the Federal government to sanction both foreign and local violators of the cabotage and jealously guard against the flag of convenience vessels as advised by [Sam Olatuji 2013]. There is also a need to establish a national maritime resource center as a concentration point for research development in the sector. This centre will cater for the required manpower.
Raji added that the Sea scout section of the Scout association of Nigeria, a voluntary, non political organization has remain a veritable instrument to global maritime growth from its voluntary coast watching activities during the first world war between 1914-1918 at its formative years. He further pledged the support of the Sea scout branch of the Scout Association of Nigeria to assisting Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency on its comprehensive enforcement of CABOTAGE policy. The sea scout section which places emphasis on Nautical twist develops young people on basic maritime skills targeted at making them self fulfilled individuals who can contribute to making a better world by acting constructive roles in the society.
The Commissioner concluded that you can see how despicable and worrisome it is, " Some of our sea scouts had gone through the seafarer training and 1978 mandatory STCW with NIMASA's discharged certificates, yet remain disillusioned as the industry beclouds indigenous participation. Indigenous ship owners need sufficient collaboration with government and necessary stake holders to boost indigenous performance at the upstream sector that is predominantly dominated by foreigners which will in turn generate more earnings for the government and put food on the tables of the unemployed Nigerian youths by allowing them man the indigenous vessels.
Temple Micheal, reporting from the Navy Sailing Club.
NHQ Communication/External Relations, The Scout Association Of Nigeria.