By Lizzy Chirkpi
OrderPaperToday – The House of Representatives joint committees on Maritime Safety and Navy have frowned at the Nigeria Navy for spending N28.9billion for fueling of patrol ships annually and another $250 million for refurbishing of obsolete ships.
These concerns were raised on Monday during a public hearing for a bill seeking to amend “The Maritime Operations Coordinating Board Act, Reconstituting the Maritime Operations Coordinating Board for Effective Control of all Maritime Operations in Nigeria’s Territorial Waters and the Exclusive Economic Zone, Create the Maritime Security Fund, Establish Anti-piracy Offences and for related matters.”
Giving details of the bill, the presiding lawmaker at the hearing, Mr. Mohammed Bago (APC, Niger) who is the chairman, Maritime Safety said the bill would bring about effective security and coordination of all maritime operations in Nigeria and further strengthen the legal structure for punishing all acts of piracy and waterway criminality.
The bill when passed would also establish maritime security fund to enhance capacity to enforce protection laws of the Maritime environment.
Speaking to OrderPaper.Ng after the meeting, Mr. Bago said: “I am wondering why that kind of money would be used for just fueling alone. When I was going through the presentation made by the Chief of Naval Staff, I saw bunkering and diesel alone N28.9 billion while the Navy is looking for funding to combat criminality on our waterways.
“On the $250 million for refurbishing of vessels I think it is waste of resources because those vessels are obsolete and they should be archived but let me not draw conclusions yet because we are not done”, he said.
Also, Mr. Awajil Abiente (PDP, Rivers) who is the Deputy Chairman committee on Navy, disagreed with the position taken earlier by Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on duplication of laws if the present amendment sees the light of day.
“Directly or indirectly, NIMASA is already funding Navy, the law establishing NIMASA already sets aside 25% of their funds for Navy”
Abiente also agreed with his colleagues that the Navy spends so much for maintaining of its vessels. “The Nigeria Navy spends so much maintaining our fleet”
He also decried the mirage of issues facing the Nigeria Navy like adequate releases and non-increment of their budget despite the enormous financial challenges.