By Our Reporter
Those who think that Nigeria lost the Category C , Seat, of the United Nations, UN, maritime agency, Interrnational Maritime Organisation, IMO, due to the East African country of Kenya, due lack of preparations for the election on Friday, December 3, 2021,may have to do a rethink.
Bashir Jamoh, Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, with the support of president Muhammadu buhari, a retired army General had reached out to the Leadership of the Maritime Authorities in other parts of the world, including South Korea, to support Nigerian bid for the IMO Council Seat, reserved for 20 countries.
Jamoh, the NIMASA Director General may have known the high level of international politics involved in the election of the members of the IMO Category C, meaning countries that are not eligible to be elected into Categories A and B, reserved for the big players.
. Dakuku Peterside, the then Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of the agency who had taken Nigeria to the Council election in London, United Kingdom, in 2019, was emphatic on this. ‘’What went wrong. The election of any country into the Council IMO Category C, is a function of International Politics and not a specific case of IMO.The NIMASA, boss may have known the areas Nigeria has been most criticised by the International Community that he had mobilized his Management Team to decide on what to do in order to win the heart of the voters at the December 3, 2021, Council election in the United Kingdom.
He had taken advantage of the of the $195 million maritime maritime security assets meant for the Deep Blue project, procured by the Katsina state born Nigeria President for the agency and which was supplied by the Israeli firm, HLSI Security Systems and Technologies Limited, to move into action immediately. , The security assets comprises of 16 armoured vehicle for Coastal Patrol, 17 Fast Interceptor Boats, Two Special Mission vessels and Two Special Mission aircrafts including four armoured marine vehicles to address the security Challenges in Nigerian waters and the Gulf Guinea, GoG, with the Collaboration of other maritime security agencies , particular, the Navy and the Air Force.
The agency was said to have gone a step further to Launch the Maritime Security Unit, MSU, in order to win the heart of the International Community to give Nigeria their vote.
TheInternational Community, IMO And the International Maritime Bureau Bureau, IMB, had recognised the efforts of Nigeria to make the country’s maritime domain and GoG , safe for Foreign ocean going vessels, which was enough to keep the IMO, Category C Seat, up for grab by Nigeria.
Jamoh had said at recent Chartered Institute of Transport Administration in Nigeria, CIOTA, Conference in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, that there were 27 Piracy and sea robbery attacks between May and July, 2021, stressing the Pirates and sea robbers had Launched the attack on three vessels in the anchorage areas, meaning that the sea Criminal elements wing have been Completely clipped.
Although, Nigeria had lost the IMO Category C, Seat to Kenya, many believe that there was no basis for such show of hatred by the International Community on Nigeria. There is no gainsaying the fact that the East African country has the largest tonnage in the Continent , meaning that the country have more vessels in their Local ship registry compared to Nigeria which have less but the country still remain the second largest tonnage owner in the African Continent ahead of Egypt, Morocco, or any other maritime nations in the Continent that was elected into the Council in the last Friday election in London, UK. The loss of the IMO Seat for the sixth time may have come as a shock to the Nigerian delegation led by the NIMASA Director General as they were optimistic of winning the election given the high level of preparations that was that was made for the election , both giving out time and resources to Campaign for it.
Industry watchers believe that Nigeria may have lost the election to Kenya, which is already a member of the Council because of its established good working relationship with other member nations in the various IMO Categories: A, B and C, to retain the Seat in the Council while allowing Nigeria to do the spending that will lead the country nowhere.
The Industry stakeholders, who had watched the election process from the beginning to the end, believe that Nigeria had lost in the election to Kenya because of the high level of insecurity in the country. The insecurity which was informed by the activities of the Islamic Fundamentalist Group, BokoHaram and the Islamic State of the West African Province, ISWAP, in the north east states of Borno , Yobe and the activities of the Bandits Group Court declared terrorists in the north west states of Zamfara, Kaduna, Sokoto, Kebbi and Katsina, Buhari home state , including the north central state of Niger, and other criminal activities in other parts of the country may have worked against Nigeria. Kenya and its friendly nations were said to have cashed on to Campaign against Nigeria and succeed in winning the heart of the majority 175 member countries to support its reelection bid.
Nigeria, may not have been the only country which efforts to be elected into the IMO Council was frustrated by the International Community. South Africa, Kuwait and Peru who were elected members of the Council, also suffered the same fate, but Egypt and Morrocco,two North African countries were reelected to join Kenya, in the Council.
Kuwait and Peru, two countries from the Asian and South American Continent which had had lost their bid to return to the Council including South African, Kuwait and Peru, were said to have been replaced by new entrants like Quatar and Saudi Arabia, both countries from the Middle East and Vanatu. Quarter may have got the sympathy vote of the IMO Council members because it has spent so much money preparatory for hosting of the World Cup Fiesta next year.
Recall that in 2019, when Nigeria made attempts to regain its Seat in the 20-member Council, but lost out, to Kenya as Bahamas, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Morocco,Indonesia, Jamaica, Kwait, Malaysia, Malta , Mexico, Peru, the Phillipines, Singapore, , South Africa, Thailand and Turkey, were the twenty countries elected.
Indeed, most of the sitting members of the IMO Category C, were said to have been reelected in the 2121 election. The Category A, exclusively reserved for the Asian countries of China, Greece, Japan , Republic and the European Countries of Korea and the European countries of Norway, the Russian Federation, , and the UK including the North American country of the United States, US, and Panama, believed to have the largest interest in proving International shipping services, were all retained in the Category.
The situation was the same for countries reserved in Category B, such asAustralia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the United Arab Emirate, UAE, believed to have ‘’the largest interest in International borne trade’’ as they were retained.
The Council, as the Executive arm of the IMO, according to the UN, maritime agency sources is ‘’responsible, under the Assembly for ‘’supervising the work of the Organisation’’. It is reported that between the sessions of the Assembly, the Council could also perform the functions of the Assembly , except that of making recommendations to the governments on Safety and Pollution prevention’’, which are the exclusive responsibility of the Assembly. Nigeria began making fresh moves to return to the Council in 2011 but had continuously failed.
It is instructive to note that that the 175 member states and three Associate members of the Council, are entitled to attend the Council’s meeting which is the IMO, highest decision making body. With the Nigeria loss of the IMO Council elections, ‘’it would again deny the country’s pivotal role of’contributing in taking key decisions in the global maritime environment’’.