THE Federal Government, Wednesday, dumped the proposed Maritime Development Bank of Nigeria, MDBN, for a Regional Maritime Development Bank, RMDB, whose headquarters and presidency have been ceded to Nigeria by the 25 countries that make up the Maritime Organization for West and Central Africa, MOWCA.
Speaking to Vanguard on the sidelines of the just concluded Public Hearing on some maritime bills organized by the House of Representative Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, Director of Legal Services at the Federal Ministry of Transport, Mr. Pius Oteh, said that the entire members of MOWCA in 2011 agreed to have a USD1.0 billion as the capital base of the Bank.
Oteh explained that the establishment of a Maritime Bank in Nigeria could send a wrong signal to other countries that are already committed to the formation of the regional maritime bank.
He also disclosed that the shareholding of the RMDB has been shared amongst the MOWCA with Nigeria taking the highest equity at 12 percent.
He stated: “There is an agreement that dates back to 2011 where the Transport Ministers in West and Central Africa approved and ratified the various agreements on Maritime Organization for West and Central Africa. But there was no serious follow up on these decisions until about four years ago; we have re-energized this process.
“Countries have signed the charter to the Bank and we have enough number of countries to activate the process of the Bank; as at this time the processes of the set up are going on.
“The Headquarter of the Bank will be in Nigeria, the other 24 countries have conceded to that and they have also agreed that a Nigerian will the President of the Bank. But it is going to be a Private–Public sector driven Bank, so the states in the two sub-region of West and Central Africa collectively have 51 percent of the shareholding of the Bank given to the MOWCA states and these shares were allotted to them on the basis of volume of trade and so naturally Nigeria has the lion share of 12 percent and the other 49 percent will be for institutional investors.
“More like African Import Bank AFREXIM has shown a lot of interest, we have quite o lot of institutional investors particularly within member countries who want to be part f the Bank.
“Like I said Dr. Paul Adalikwu, a Nigerian, who is the current Secretary General of MOWCA has been given the mandate to follow the process and ensure that the Bank takes off as quickly as possible, hopefully within this year.
“As a matter of fact the Federal Ministry of Transportation is currently engaged in discussion with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, for some assistance with respect to office spaces and all that.
“The point we are making is that, having gone that far, having reached agreement with sister countries in the two sub-regions, we will like to continue and conclude that process as quickly as possible and pushing ahead with the Nigerian initiative is likely to bring a wrong impression that we are no longer fully committed to the Regional Maritime Development Bank that is why we used that language that we should step down the Nigerian initiative and at the appropriate time, there is nothing wrong in having a domestic Maritime Development Bank.
“Given how far we have come with the Regional Maritime Development Bank and properly structured, the Bank will give Nigerian a wider playing field and more access to funds in terms of pulling funds from 25 countries instead of from a single country. So we think it is an initiative we should pursue to conclusion before we take up any new initiative.”