The Federal Government on Monday said it has appointed a National Fleet Implementation Committee, to refloat the moribund Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL).
The committee which is headed by the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello, will work closely with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to attain its terms of reference.
In the new arrangement, the core investors will own 49 per cent of the NNSL shares while Nigerian ship owners will own 51 per cent of the firm which will be given a national career status.
Making this known yesterday when he hosted the Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr. Alex Okoh, in Lagos, the Director General of NIMASA, Dr Dakuku Peterside, stated that shipping to all extent defines the growth trajectory of any nation, especially as it relates to seaborne commerce.
“The emphasis of the Federal Ministry of Transportation is to drive a process where we will refloat the national fleet, this time with the core investors that will own 49 per cent of the shares, whereas, Nigerian ship owners will hold 51 per cent of the shares of the firm which will also be given the National Career Status. We are looking at different models, hence the importance of this engagement, so that we can review what has happened over time and choose the best model”, the DG said.
He added that the greatest asset in the maritime space is the vessel itself and if there are no vessels, one cannot be a major player. “You can only be a major player in name, but in reality you will not get maximum benefit from trade,” he said.
Peterside disclosed that the only way to guarantee the efficiency and effectiveness of shipping, which will add value to the economy, is through the involvement of the private sector.
He noted that the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, has initiated a process whereby people from the private sector will pool resources to float a national fleet, facilitated by the Ministry of Transportation and NIMASA, adding that the process which will hoist the Nigerian Flag is ongoing.
Earlier, the Director General of the BPE, who commended the strides of the Peterside-led management of NIMASA in repositioning the maritime sector, said that BPE is the agency of government responsible for public sector and enterprise reforms of the Federal Government. He emphasised that businesses are better managed by the private sector and that government has very little to do in business apart from creating an enabling environment for businesses to strive.
Okoh stated that the BPE will be willing to partner NIMASA in the quest to revive the National Unity Line in collaboration with the private sector.
“We have looked at the Nigerian Unity Line and the only tangible asset they have is operating licence. The licence confers on the enterprise certain privileges, deriving from the Cabotage Act and also from the local content policy. This can be the foundation for the building block of a virile shipping business in Nigeria,” he said.
He, therefore, called on the agency to take a common position with the bureau in realising the privatisation mandate, which will be forwarded to the National Council on Privatization (NCP) as the strategic way forward for handling this particular enterprise.
Recall that as part of the agency’s commitment to ensure a robust maritime sector, it has continued to work closely with the Ministry of Transportation, which has been at the forefront of championing the revitalisation of the National Shipping Line with private sector participation.