Reactions trail Loss at IMO Elections 

Abiola Seun    |      

Stakeholders in the nation’s maritime sector have continued to react to Nigeria’s loss at the recently concluded International Maritime Organization (IMO) election to Kenya by a lone vote last week.

Speaking to newsmen, a member of the steering committee of the Nigerian Shipowners’ Association (NISA), Capt. Taiwo Akinpelumi said that the federal government should take shipping seriously in the country.

According to him, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) should setup a committee to ascertain why Nigeria has continuously lost out to other countries with just one vote.

He said, “What we have to do is stock taking. We need to seriously do stock taking, a committee should be set up to actually let NIMASA know why things are going wrong because we lost by one vote to Malta now it is another one vote to Kenya. Is it coincidental? I don’t think so, there are lots of things we have to interrogate because we need to be serious as a maritime state.”

Akinpelumi further bemoaned Nigeria losing to Kenya which doesn’t have capacity like Nigeria in shipping.

“NIMASA should also ensure people we put forward are seasoned professionals and for people to take us serious they must see that we are developing capacity, industry booming and shipping practices the way it should be. That will speak for us, we shouldn’t be struggling with Kenya with one vote with Kenya. 

“Kenya has only Mombasa port but Nigeria with so many ports, vast maritime asset, human resources should make concerted effort to control shipping and not be struggling for one vote with Kenya.”

Also, a shipping expert and Deputy Ship Registrar of Liberian Flag, Capt Tony Onoharigho in an interview said that it was going to be difficult for Nigeria to win IMO election category C’ because she is not even on the white list or grey list.

According to him, the only consideration Nigeria is having at IMO is just a favour because of her size.

The failure of Nigeria to review its Cabotage Act 2003 has continued to portray the country as unserious and unworthy to seat at the table with the ‘big boys’ of shipping. 

Billions of Nigeria which has over the years accrued from the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) a product of the Cabotage Act which was meant to help indigenous shipowners grow their business has not been disbursed despite several appeals.

Piracy is another factor that has continued to work against Nigeria. The country has maintained its reputation as the hotbed of piracy and kidnapping for ransom in the Gulf of Guinea.

Recall that Nigeria has for the fourth consecutive time, lost out in the much-touted bid for election into Category C of the global maritime body’s governing Council, International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Assembly in London on Friday.

The IMO council is the United Nations specialized agency responsible for regulating the global maritime industry.

Recall that the last time Nigeria won the IMO Council election was in 2009 under Temisan Omatseye, who was then Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and every attempt made since then to return to the Council had failed.

The last two failed attempts were led by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and the Director-General of NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside.

40 countries were elected by the IMO Assembly into the Governing Council for the 2020-2021 biennium;10 were elected into Category A; 10 into Category B and 20 into Category C.

The countries elected into Category A, consisting of countries with the largest interest in providing international shipping services are China, Greece, Italy, Japan, Norway, Panama, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, and the United States.

Those elected into Category B, made of countries with the largest interest in international seaborne trade include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Arab Emirates.

Category C members are those that are not eligible for election into either Category A or B. They are countries that have special interests in maritime transport or navigation and whose election to the Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world. Those elected under the category include Bahamas, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand and Turkey.

Nigeria’s delegation to the IMO Assembly, which is meeting from November to December 4 in London, include the Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemi Saraki; Chairman, House Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, Lynda Chuba-Ikpeazu; Director General of NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside and Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, among others.

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