The Minister of State for Transportation, Dr Gbemisola Saraki, who led the country’s delegation to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Council seat election in London has said that Nigeria will reclaim its slot into Category C of IMO in 2021, when it hopes to return stronger.
Nigeria came within whisker of returning to Category C of IMO on Friday in London after losing the IMO Council election by just one vote. Though, the country missed its bid for membership of the Governing Council, IMO’s highest decision making organ, its performance was a remarkable improvement from 2017, when it lost by 12 votes.
However, West Africa lost its only seat in the Council, as Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, and Kenya retained their seats in the 20-member Category C of the IMO.
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.
Nigeria’s delegation to the 31st Session of the IMO had put up a spirited campaign for election into the Governing Council, whose membership the country lost in 2011. Nigeria polled 110 votes to come 21st; one short of the 111 polled by Kenya, which came 20th, the cut off point for Category C membership of the Council.
Nigeria will have another chance for a shot at the Council in 2021, during the next biennial Session of the IMO Assembly. Being in the Council brings opportunities and openings for nations to be involved in various decisions that will impact on the maritime sector globally and the country in particular.