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[Editorial] Nigeria’s Loss of IMO Seat: One Defeat Too Many

Last week Friday, Nigeria once again lost its bid to regain the Category C seat of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in a keenly contested elections in London Headquarters of the world body.

Last weekend loss makes it the sixth consecutive failed attempts which Nigeria made to recapture the global crown it lost in 2009.

The latest loss was particularly painful and dramatic as the country lost against high expectations and hope for better outing.

Disappointed stakeholders have since then been making wild guesses as to why Nigeria has consistently become a serial loser at the IMO Council seat elections.

While some believed that the maritime administration in Nigeria has not done enough to made the country merit a seat to dine with serious maritime nations in the world, others believed the loss was an unfair reflection of efforts of the present management of NIMASA to shore up our maritime fortunes.

Not a few stakehokders gave Nigeria a chance to clinch the covected position which it narrowly lost to Kenya by one vote in 2019.
Nonetheless, we are saddened by this latest loss given the level of improvements we thought our maritime administration has recorded in recent times.

Before this time, the previous loses have mainly been attributed to the  notoriety of Nigeria’s waters for pirate attacks as well as the shamble state of our ship registry.

Our Search and Rescue operations were also blamed while the poor level of compliance of port infrastructures to the ISPS code was not spared.

But in recent times, the present management of NIMASA led by Dr Bashir Jamoh, has shown uncommon commitment and courage to tackle these challenges.

We can recall that incidents of pirate attacks on our waters drastically reduced early this year due to the collaborative efforts of NIMASA with the Navy.

The notorious Gulf of Guinea was calmer in recent times due to the concious collaborative efforts and strategic partnership which Nigeria had with foreign Navies whose presence has help to reduce the incidence of piracy in the region.

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) even acknowledged this feat in its quarterly assessment reports.

Incidents of piracy in the first nine months of 2021 are the lowest reported in 17 years.
This represents 77 per cent decrease in incidents between 2021 and 2020, and 95 per cent reduction from 2018. “The IMB also reported 39 per cent reduction in piracy and armed robbery incidents in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG),” said Jimoh.

To complement its security efforts on Nigerian waters, NIMASA launched an operation of a modern and sophisticated security architecture known as Command, Control Computer Communication and Information System(C4i).

This is to create maximum security, strong surveillance as well as low freight costs that will boost the confidence of investors and port users.

Also, the NIMASA management took a bold step to revamp the ship registry which has for some years been a disincentive for ships to fly Nigeria’s flag.

On the ISPS code compliance level of Nigerian Ports facilities, the United States Coast Guards (USCG) commended NIMASA as the Designated Authority (DA) over the improved compliance level attained by the country which was rated at 90 percent.

The Search and Rescue operations of the agency has recorded significant milestones in recent times with its rescue operations to salvage distressed ships, passengers and crew members.

To put the icing on the cake, the Federal Government, early this year, launched the multi- billion dollars security apparatus called deep blue project which was a revolutionary security arthitecture to sweep our waters of criminal elements.
The project, being driven by NIMASA, involves all other security agencies whose personnel are equipped with the sophisticated hardwares and assets acquired under the project to engage criminals on our waters and keep our waters safe.
The international community even commended this security initiative which it confessed has a considerable calming  effects on  the raging gulf of Guinea.

With all these efforts to improve maritime security and Safety on our waters, which is the core function of any maritime administration in the world and for which Nigeria through NIMASA has acquitted itself, what more does the world want?

The efforts of the incumbent NIMASA management in maritime security has even been acknowledged by the IMO when the body described Nigeria as the most improved maritime nation in the sub-region.

Why then are all these efforts by Nigeria not rewarded with a victory at the IMO elections?

As far as we are concerned, Nigeria lost the elections to grand international conspiracy and criminal gang-up by her jealous and ingrate neighbours.

We are not by any means suggesting that our challenges in the maritime industry are over.

On the contrary, we still need to firm up on some other key areas of administration and operations to put the industry on a sound footing, especially the grey areas identified in the audit exercise by the IMO.

But our position is that unlike  the  previous defeats which Nigeria has suffered since 2009, the current loss is most unjustified and unkindest cut given the sincerity of purpose of Jamoh- led management in its reformation agenda in the industry aimed at correcting some of the administrative and operational lapses that had hitherto caused our failures at the IMO Council elections.

Despite this loss however, we would like to commend Nigeria nay NIMASA for fighting a good battle.

They have put up a good show.

To us at nigeriamaritime360.com , Nigeria didn’t lose as a result  of administrative ineptitude and operational laxity as some critics may want us to believe but instead we lost to bad international politics heavily steeped in “bad belle”.

We want to encourage Jamoh and his team not to be despondent nor allow their fighting spirit to be dampened as a result of this defeat which to us, was “against the run of play”.

Rather, the management should go back to the drawing board and commence immediate preparations for the next IMO council elections in 2023.

The defeat should also spur NIMASA to improve on its current drive to reform the maritime industry that will make us break the chains of defeat in subsequent elections.

© 2021, maritimemag. All rights reserved.

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