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NIMASA, NCDMB shipbuilding dream shattered by failed assent to Ajaokuta Steel Bill

The bogus five-year plan to ease out granting of cabotage waivers and takeoff of indigenous shipbuilding industry may have been dead on arrival as both the body language of the Presidency and experts views run contrary to the claims of both the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).
Presenting a document he described as roadmap to first end granting of cabotage waivers nationwide, and drive a five-year plan to a new regime that makes indigenous operators compete favourably with their foreign counterparts, the Director General of NIMASA, Dakuku Adol Peterside, said after the careful implementation of the roadmap in the next five years, government would have revived the Ajaokuta Steel Mill and the Aluminum Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) to achieve local production of vessels.
However, whereas both NIMASA and NCDMB may be dreaming to flag off local shipbuilding industry with locally sourced iron and steel, the presidency seems to be on a different page on the matter with the two agencies.
This is based on the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari had vide a letter dated March 19, 2019, rejected the bill that sought to provide funds for the completion of the moribund Ajoakuta Steel Company.
Buhari said in the letter that “The nation cannot afford to commit such an amount in the midst of competing priorities with long term social and economic impact that the funds can be alternatively deployed towards.
“Bills which seek to make an appropriation of revenues to fund public expenditure should be consolidated in the annual Appropriation Act such that these proposals pass through the traditional scrutiny that budget proposal is subjected to by the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Budget and National Planning and the National Assembly.
“Furthermore, as the Excess Crude Account Funds belong to the Federation, it would be proper to consult with the National Economic Council where the States are represented.
“Relevant stakeholders such as the Ministries of Mines and Steel Development, Industry, Trade, and Investment were not fully consulted.
“The inputs of key stakeholders are necessary to create the optimal legal and regulatory framework as well as an institutional mechanism to adequately regulate the steel sector.”