The National Unity Line (NUL), a former government -owned shipping firm was acquired about four years ago by a private shipping company. The new owner later dropped the acquisition idea and asked for a refund of its investment when the government failed to assist the firm to transform into a national career status. But the government is now considering the resuscitation of the company.
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) may soon resuscitate the defunct National Unity Line following the inability of the Bureau of Public Enterprises to sell off the moribund shipping firm floated many years ago by the agency to replace the Nigerian National Shipping Line, which was liquidated 15 years ago.
The Nigerian Unity Line was first sold about four years ago to Sea-force Shipping Company, which initially paid the sum of $20 million only for the same company to ask for the refund of the deposit about a year later.
Sources said the company took the action when it was becoming obvious that it might not be possible for it to act as a national carrier as expected. It was thought that the government would assist the then new owner of the NUL to lift crude oil across the seas on behalf of the Federal Government.
The government under the headship of then President Olusegun Obasanjo actually gave it the assurance that it would be nurtured to become a national carrier to lift crude oil but the arrangement could not be sustained because of the end of tenure of the former president.
The Director-General, Mr. Temisan Omatseye, dropped the hint at a media parley few days ago in Lagos. He explained that five ships would be acquired for shipping business, adding one tanker, two liners and three bulk ships would be acquired by the agency in collaboration with the private sector.
Omatseye said there has been significant increase of funds for the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) from less than $7 million in July 2009 to over $55 million in June 2010, representing 685 per cent increase.
According to him: “Arrangements for the administration of the CVFF have reached advanced stage and the first batch of disbursement would be concluded shortly through the primary lending institution such as Diamond Bank, Skye Bank, Fidelity Bank and Equitorial Bank.
“We have recorded 240 cabotage vessels in the cabotage special registry as against 45 vessels when we assumed office. This represent 450 per cent increase.”
Omatseye stressed that NIMASA would provide the policy and legal framework for the establishment of ship demolition and recycling facilities in the country. He said the project had attracted tremendous favourable interest from investors.
He hinted that plans were on by the agency to establish more maritime academies to address the current challenge of acute shortage of qualified seafarers.
Omatseye also noted that the agency had facilitated matchmaking between indigenous shipping companies and their foreign counterparts in Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and United States of America.
He also explained that management was planning to implement public sector cargo support scheme in line with the provision of section 36 of NIMASA Act and the Nigerian Content Development Policy objective.
In addition, he said that NIMASA had complied with the directives of the ministerial committee on payment of seamen gratuity by paying all affected people.
He mentioned that new condition of service for Nigerian seafarers on board fishing and coastal vessels in line with the standards of the National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC).
NCC Reassures On Protection Of Customers
The Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) has assured telecommuication consumers that they would continue to get the right value for their money
It also said that it would continue to address challenges in the industry.
The NCC’s Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Prof. Umar Danbatta, gave the assurance at NCC Day at Lagos International Trade Fair Complex, Tafawa Balewa Square.
He said as the regulator of the industry, the commission is aware of the huge responsibilities of safeguarding the interests of all the stakeholders.
Represented by the commission’s Deputy Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, Mr. Ismail Adedigba, the NCC boss said the forum was specially organised to strategise with the consumers to seek and proffer solutions to various telecom issues confronting them.
He said: “The NCC as the telecom regulator is aware that this feat of telecom being central to our daily life could not have been achieved without the consumers and as such identifies the consumer as a very important stakeholder in the telecom industry.
“This is evident in the Eight Point Agenda of the commission where the empowerment and protection of the consumers from unfair practices through availability of information and education to make informed choices in the use of ICT services is emphasised.”
Danbatta said the NCC as a regulator has devised ways for subscribers to lodge complaints when they are dissatisfied with the services provided by operators, adding that the commission will also apply appropriate regulatory measures and sanctions against erring service provider.
He said one of the issues affecting telecoms consumers which the commission has proffered solution to is the issue of telemarketing, commonly known as unsolicited text message.
Human Capital Dev, Key To Mining Sector – Minister
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite says human capital development is key to growing the mining sector.
He said this yesterday in Abuja when he visited the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA) to inspect some of its facilities.
The minister said developing human capital in the mining sector was necessary to build the right expertise to do things like certification of minerals locally, rather than going to South Africa and other countries to do same.
“If we do certification of minerals here, things will be easier and people can even come from other countries to have their minerals certified in Nigeria.
“Nigeria is a great country, and I am sure we have the resources in terms of human capital, let us train our people so we can achieve this.
“I have no doubt that we can do it, and I know that the NGSA is doing well and I will like us to keep it that way,’’ the minister said.
Adegbite also expressed concern that the engineering profession was currently dominated by men, saying that there was the need to encourage women into the profession.
According to him, girls in universities should be given career talk to encourage them to take to the profession.
The minister also tasked Nigerians on the need to be patriotic and to always have the interest of the country at heart, as this was critical to ensuring its greatness.
“Let us all have Nigeria’s interest first and foremost at heart, if we do that, Nigeria will be greater, and we will all leave peacefully.
“When Nigeria is great, it is able to provide for more.
“All this banditry we are having all over the place is because the growth that Nigeria has experienced has been exclusive, a lot of people had been left behind.
“And when people are left behind, the result is desperation and this had led to banditry, kidnapping and others vices,” he said.
Adegbite charged the management of the agency to feel free to come up with ideas on how to move the agency forward.
The minister also inaugurated the agency’s Mineral Museum and Customer Service Centre.
Earlier, NGSA Director-General Dr Abdulrazaq Garba said the museum was established for the archiving of Nigeria’s scientific breakthroughs and geological heritage.
Garba said the agency‘s geological museums and collections were a great national asset that contributed to culture, research, scientific education and public engagement.
He added that it had also formed an intrinsic part of research carried out in the past and played a key role as a source of evidence in exploration of the nation’s natural resources.
Speaking on the recent persistent earth tremors experienced in parts of the country, especially around Abuja, Garba said proactive measures were being taken to predict, detect and monitor earth movement and earthquake related activities.
According to him, the agency has procured and deployed earthquake monitoring equipment in form of high sensitivity volksmeter II in some parts of Abuja and Kaduna.
The Director General said the agency was collaborating with various institutions both locally and internationally with a view to adding value to its activities.
MOSOP Plans Template On Oil Production In Ogoni
The Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), says it will soon set up a template for discussion around the issue of oil production in Ogoniland.
President of the movement, Mr. Legborsi Saro Pgagbara, who disclosed this at the 24th Ogoni Martyrs Day in Port Harcourt, recently said the resumption of oil production in Ogoniland must involve a broad based discussion with the people.
“Our points remain that any resumption of oil production in Ogoni must involve a broad based discussion with the Ogoni community taking into account that the oil industry and Ogoni had been in dispute and the issues surrounding this dispute have not been settled” he said.
The MOSOP president also stressed the need for the people to find a united platform that will protect their interest.
Also speaking the president of KAGOTE, Dr Peter Mede, said his organisation and MOSOP were working together to advance the common interest of the Ogonis.
Dr Mede also said KAGOTE was in support of the move by the Federal Government to conduct a forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
He said the 24th commemoration marked another milestone in the Ogoni struggle and used the occasion to pass a vote of confidence on the Lgborsi Suro Pgagbara led MOSOP.
The chairman of the occasion and former Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt, Professor Ben Naanen, said the Ogonis lost a whole generation to the struggle.
He, however, commended MOSOP for keeping the memories of Ogoni heroes alive.
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