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Buhari Approves Disbursement Of $350m Cabotage Fund

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the disbursement of the $350m Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund with immediate effect.

The Minister of Transportation, Muazu Sambo, made the disclosure at the commencement of the Batch B third phase of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme held at the Naval Dockyard, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Sambo also said the fund belonged to shipowners, adding that the Buhari regime had broken a 17-year-old jink with the approval.

“President Muhammadu Buhari has approved my request for the disbursement of the CVFF Fund. Finally, we are breaking the 17-year-old jinx. By the time we commence disbursement to the beneficiaries; we have made a case that the fund belongs to the Nigerian shipowners. The President, who is a respecter of the law, therefore approved the disbursement of the fund with immediate effect,” the minister stated.

Sambo also said he would meet the Minister of Finance and National Planning and officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria for the immediate disbursement of the fund.

“We shall approach the Minister of Finance and Budget Planning as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria for the immediate disbursement of the fund,” he noted.

He said that even though the fund, which has hit over $350m, was warehoused in the Treasury Single Account of the Federal Government, it would be transferred to the approved primary lending institutions.

Sambo announced that five primary lending institutions had been approved for the disbursement.

The minister also said the collapse of the Nigerian National Shipping Line created a gap in the manpower development of the shipping industry, especially in the area of shipboard training and manning.

He added, “It is worthy of note that the NSDP has so far been a success story and has further advanced the human capacity development programme of the Federal Government. As stated in the director-general’s address, the NSDP from inception in 2008 has trained over 2,000 students in Marine Engineering, Nautical Science and Naval Architecture, of which many are now gainfully employed and sailing on both coastal and international vessels. The presence of these officers is a further testament to the fact that the programme is a success.

“Hence, the ministry explicitly gave its nod to the expansion of the programme by another set of 435 new students to be recruited into the NSDP. The commencement of the third phase of the NSDP, christened ‘NSDP-TERRA’, marks another milestone in the development of manpower in line with the Federal Government’s policy on youth empowerment.”

Also speaking, the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh, said, “The programme was designed to train Nigerian youths up to degree level in Marine Engineering, Nautical Sciences and Naval Architecture in some of the best maritime training institutions abroad, and to position them to compete effectively in the global maritime industry.

“It was noted that the number of Nigerian seafarers on ocean going vessels as at then had depleted over the years and the urgent need to boost it adequately for effective implementation of the coastal and inland shipping policy of the Government informed the initiative.”

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