Nigeria came within a whisker of returning to Category C of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) 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, Nigeria’s 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.
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. The country 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.
The Minister of State for Transportation, Dr Gbemisola Saraki, who led the country’s delegation, said the campaign for the 2021 bid had begun. Saraki said it was a matter of paramount national interest that “Nigeria gets a seat on the maritime table”.
She said the country would, as a first task, appraise the factors behind its narrow loss. “We are going to go back to the countries that voted to ask them what they did not think we have done well or why they did not vote for us,” Saraki stated.
But she insisted Nigeria had done remarkably well in reforming its maritime sector to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She pointed to the milestones in maritime safety and security, gender equality, and environmental responsibility.
Saraki was delighted by the determined effort of the Nigerian delegation to campaign for the Category C seat.
The Nigerian delegation also included Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, whose Agency was the lead anchor. Others were Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman;
Chairman, Senate Committee on Maritime transport , Senator Danjuma Goje; Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, Hon. Lynda Ikpeazu; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Sabiu Zakari; Rector of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, Duja Effedua and Mr. Hassan Bello, Executive Secretary Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC).