The newly-elected President of Shipowners' Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Dr, Mkgeorge Onyung, has promised to ensure the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessels Finance Fund (CVFF) to maritime operators.
Speaking after his election in Lagos on Tuesday, Onyung said that the association would engage the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Federal Ministry of Transportation over the disbursement of the fund.
He said that the intervention fund was created for the benefits of shipowners and it must be disbursed for the purpose.
"The CVFF is created for the benefit of indigenous shipowners and the fact that it had not been disbursed means something needs to be fine tuned.
"So, I will come back with my team to look at what are the possibilities and what is the real nagging problem so that we can address it for a win-win situation."
"It is not my job to ensure CVFF is disbursed but I believe government is working on the disbursement but we will create a team that will address all issues that affect our members and the CVFF is one of them," Onyung said.
He said that its executive members would look at the best way to ensure that CVFF is disbursed to our members.
Onyung said that the task ahead the new executive is enormous, adding that it's members would support NIMASA's five years waiver cessation plan for the actualisation of Cabotage Act.
The newly elected president also promised to build an association that would engage stakeholders in the sector constructively to enable Nigeria become the hub in the West and Central Africa region.
"The task for the future is very enormous, I want to see a very smoother relationship with our stakeholders and regulators.
"The shipping industry to be moved to the next level and creating a formidable team that will engage stakeholders. l will work with them and engage them positively."
Also speaking, the immediate past president of SOAN, Greg Ogeifun, expressed regret on the non disbursement of the CVFF by the government.
He said the non disbursement had affected activities of shipowners to compete favourably in the sector globally.
"I think Nigerian maritime sector has grown tremendously and the Nigerian content act is working with NIMASA to give opportunities to Nigerians who want to be ship owners.
"The challenge still remains that the funds that is statutorily designed to help the acquisition of ships by Nigerians is still being locked up by NIMASA and the ministry of transport.
"That fund has to be released to be able to allow Nigerians acquire the ships and be able to take their rightful position, otherwise the opportunities for foreigners will continue to be there," Ogbeifun said.
He pledged to dedicate his contacts, time and resources, to the success of the incoming leadership.
Revered Returning Officer, Mrs Margaret Orakwusi who declared the absolutely free and fair election results, announced Dr Mkgeorge Onyung as scoring 12 votes, to beat his co- contestant, Engr. Alfred Okoigun, who polled 10 votes. Members of SOAN newly elected executive are: Eno Williams (1st Vice President); Sonny Eja (2nd Vice President); Babalola Adefarati (Financial Secretary/ Treasurer)
Others are Lucky Akhiwu (Chairman, Technical Com-mittee); Wisdom Nwagwu ( Chairman, Training and Capacity Building Committee; ) Dr Louis Ekere as Chairman, Ethics and Privileges Commi-ttee Iroghama Obuoforibo Chairman, Finance and Membership Committee.