By Stephen Ubanna
Barely two months after President Muhammadu Buhari, had approved the disbursement of the millions of dollars and billions of naira that have accrued into the Single Treasury Account, TSA, of the Cabotage Finance Fund, CVFF, opened with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, under the close watch of Godwin Emefiele, by Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency , NIMASA , under the close watch of Bahir Jamoh , and the selection of five banks to do it, the stage appears set for the disbursement of the funds by the five selected banks.
The five selected Commercial Banks selected by the Federal ministry of Transportation on the recommendations of NIMASA, to handle the disbursement of the CVFF, include United Bank For Africa, UBA, Union Bank, Zenith Bank, Jaiz and Polaris Bank.
Eng . Muazu Jaji Sambo, the Taraba state born minister of Transportation and Jamoh, Director General, NIMASA, may have to do a rethink about the choice of Polaris as one of the five banks that would disburse the CVFF, to avoid running into stormy waters.
This is because the CBN and Ahmed Kuru, led Asset Management Company of Nigeria, AMCON, have formally sold the government 100% Share Purchase Agreement, SPA, to Strategic Capital Investment Limited, SCIL. There are indications that the Katsina state born Nigerian President had approved the Sale of the Bank to SCIL, to improve on its financial base. The government may have been encouraged to sell the bank to the private investor as it had paid upfront N50 billion to Acquire the 100% of the government of the bank without sweating to raise the money.
The Strategic Investor was said to have also accepted the terms of the Agreement which, according to the CBN, include ‘’the full repayment of the sum of Nn1.35 trillion , being the consideration bonds injected by the government to the Bank to bring it back to live.
In spite of the Acquisition of Polaris, by a Strategic Investor to improve on its Finances and reposition for business, as well as put it at par with other major Financial Institutions in the country, it is not guarantee for officials of the ministry of Transportation and NIMASA, to give it same treatment as UBA, Union Bank, Zenith or Jaiz, described as financially solid.
The CVFF, which is financed through a surcharge of 2% of the contract sum performed by any vessel involved in the coastal trade and monies generated from the Coastal and Shipping ( Cabotage) Act of 2003, like tariffs, fines and fees for licenses, waivers and other service charges stipulated by the National Assembly was said to have been established by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, ‘’to assist the indigenous ship-owners in their drive for ship Acquisition to increase the country’s tonnage’’.
Indeed, between 2003 and now, Eng. Sambo, the minister of Transportation and Jamoh the, NIMASA, Director General , had said at different times that $350 million had accrued into the CVFF, TSA, with the CBN.
Until her deployment to the ministry of Mines and Steel Development during the last ministerial shake-up, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, a former minister of state in the in the ministry of Transportation had said that what had accrued into the CVFF, in its over 17 years of existence was $350 million, lodged in its TSA with the apex Bank. Jamoh, the NIMASA, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, had said that an additional N16 billion had accrued into the funds within the over 17 years of its existence. A top official of the agency had told The Value News that the fund, grows on a daily basis, meaning that it may have grown substantially and ready for disbursement.
Although, the duo, Eng. Sambo and Jamoh, the NIMAASA, CEO, had at different times aid that only $350 had accrued to the CVFF, so far, but tIsaac Jolapomo, a former Chairman, Board of Directors, NISA, would not take it. He had dismissed the claims of the minister and the NIMASA, Director General,that only $350 million had accrued into the CVFF, TSA , with the CBN, noting that what accrued into the Account was two billion dollars.
Notwithstanding the disagreement between the NIMASA, and the former NISA, Board Chairman, Jolapamo, over the actual amount that had accrued into the CVFF, TSG, the two appears to have resolved their differences.
This is evident going by the continued meetings between NIMASA and the NISA, CVFF, Steering Committee, led by Edward Sohwo, Chairman.
Jamoh, the NIMASA boss, was said to have repeatedly told the NISA Steering Committee officials that the agency Commitment under the supervision of the ministry of Transportation ‘’to implement the Presidential approval for the disbursement of the CVFF was unshakable’’.
The NIMASA, Director General, had said that the agency ‘’continued Consultation and Engagement of the NISA, CVFF, Steering Committee was ostensibly ‘’to ensure effective Communication to attain seamless disbursement of the CVFF that had been approved by the Nigerian President’’, who has barely six months in office.
Many believe that Jamoh the NIMASA, Director General, may have taken over from where Eng. Sambo, the minister of Transportation had stopped to facilitate the disbursement of the CVFF to the Indigenous ship-owners as he was said to have taken up the matter with the Nigerian President to make it mandatory for apex bank to make available the required forex to the five selected banks overseeing the management and disbursement of the CVFF.
Informed sources told the online Magazine that the Emefiele, the CBN,who is till shuttling between the North American country of the United and States, US and London, United Kingdom, for his Heart ailment Treatment, had agreed to make forex available to the five selected banks for the disbursement to the NISA members.
This should serve as a good news to Sohwo, led NISA CVFF Steering Committee and scores of the indigenous ship owners who are still waiting on the wings to get the NIMASA nod to approach the banks for the CVFF, loan.