Stories by Isaac Anumihe
Since Nigeria lost the December 1, 2017 International Maritime Organisation (IMO) council election, the dramatis personae in the woeful loss have been trading blames against one another.
A London-based Nigerian maritime analyst, Donald Adebola, who spoke shortly after the election, attributed Nigeria’s loss to “inexperience and shoddy preparation” by the handlers of the country’s bid.
“It is clear that both the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and the Director General of NIMASA, Dr Dakuku Peterside are not knowledgeable about the workings of IMO. While that is not wrong in itself, their inability to mobilise knowledgeable people on board to drive the process is confounding.” he said.
Also speaking, a former Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Ferdinand Agu, lamented that politicians don’t have a clear idea of what the maritime sector is all about.
“How can you contract maritime safety to a private company when the Nigerian Navy is there?” he asked.
The estacode spent on 36 members of the IMO team which include air tickets, accommodation, feeding and entertainment, cost the tax payers more than N200 million.
At an average of $600 daily as estacode for the 36-man delegation which spent five days at the IMO Council meeting and an average of £500 for a return ticket for each of the delegates one can only imagine the cost of this ego trip to the Nigerian tax payers, another stakeholder, reasoned.
It was gathered that Nigeria’s 36-man delegation was led by the Minister of Transportation, Mr Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. Others include, the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr Dakuku Peterside and some directors and top officials of the Ministry of Transportation.
It is regrettable Nigeria could not make any of the three IMO council categories.
For instance, the president of Ship owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Mr Greg Ogbeifun, had posited that Nigeria lost the IMO council seat due to lack of infrastructure and security in the maritime sector. These, he said, were major reasons the members voted against Nigeria.
But according to Minister of Transportation, Mr Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, who was present on the occasion, the country failed because it stopped paying dues and levies since 2011 and so when it started lobbying for re-election, it was already too late.
“That is not true. The truth is that we stopped being in the executive by 2011. We stopped paying our dues by 2011.By the time we started lobbying, we were new persons to IMO. If you saw the election, 114, 140, 130, 198. Good attempt” he said, promising that Nigeria must clinch the seat in 2019.
Also, the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Mr Hassan Bello, contradicted Ogbeifun.
He, however, opined that Nigeria lost because of reasons not far from paucity of funds and logistics and not lack of infrastructure.
“We have been out of IMO council for several years. We lost because of strategic reasons and finance. We never had the opportunity to visit other countries during the campaign period. I think in the years to come Nigeria will get back to IMO” he assured.
Speaking to newsmen in Lagos, Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, blamed the failure on late budgetary approvals by Federal Executive Council (FEC) and economic recession.
Contrary to media reports, Peterside said that only N100 million was spent on the trip and only three delegates attended the conference as against countries like Singapore, China and United Arab Emirates, that attended the election with a large retinue of delegates.
Nigeria lost woefully at its third attempt to get re-elected into the ‘Category C’ of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Council seat.
The country won its IMO Council bid in 2007 under the then Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Ade Dosunmu. In 2011, Nigeria began a fresh move to return to the council but has always failed in spite of its inability to contribute to the maritime transport.
Forty countries were elected into the IMO Council in three categories for the 2017/2018 biennial which include, China, Greece, Italy, Japan, Norway, Panama, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and United States in ‘Category A’.
Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and United Arab Emirates were elected in ‘Category B’ while Bahamas, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Liberia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand and Turkey were elected in ‘Category C’.
‘Category A’ council members are countries with the largest interest in providing international shipping services, while countries in ‘Category B’ are countries with the largest interest in international seaborne trade.
‘Category C’ which has 20 countries are those with 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.
But the election which took place in London had Nigeria as one of the countries seeking re-election by scoring 98 points in an election that saw five African countries of Morocco, Egypt, South Africa, Kenya and Liberia joining the group at the expense of Nigeria.
A breakdown of the votes showed that Morocco scored 134 votes; Egypt, 133; South Africa, 121; Kenya, 120 and Liberia, 116.
It was gathered that Singapore came tops with 142 votes to beat 20 countries.
However, ‘Category C’ is the executive organ of the IMO that takes decisions in the absence of the Assembly and co-ordinates all activities of the organs of the organisation. It has 20-member countries with special interest in maritime transport or navigation.
Maritime stakeholders have expressed shock at the inability of Nigeria to get re-elected into the policy-making body of the IMO, citing policy somersaults, shoddy preparation and inexperience by the Federal Government as represented by Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMOT) and NIMASA.