African Countries Mobilised Against Nigeria At IMO Council Election Over Border Closure – NIMASA DG
The federal government’s closure of Nigeria’s land borders is said to have cost the country the membership status of the governing council of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
The governing council is IMO’s highest decision-making organ.
Nigeria lost by one vote to Kenya in the IMO elections that was held in London, United Kingdom at the weekend.
The Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside, whose agency was the lead anchor, revealed in an interview with online medium, Shipping World, that other African countries worked against Nigeria in the election due to the country’s refusal to open its land borders.
“Our African brothers mobilized against us for reasons best known to them. Benin Republic told us bluntly, ‘If you want our vote, go and reopen your land borders,” medium quoted Dakuku to have said.
“The last time, we lost by 12 votes. This time around, we lost by a margin of one vote. These issues have nothing to do with NIMASA, rather it was international politics. Our neighbours all voted against us for closing the land borders while Switzerland voted against us because the Nigerian Navy seized their vessel for more than two years,” he said.
Meanwhile, in a statement sent to THE WHISTLER on Sunday, NIMASA said Nigeria almost returned to Category C of the IMO but for the one vote it lost to Kenya.
In the statement issued by its head of corporate communications, Isichei Osamgbi, the agency said “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.”
While West Africa lost its only seat in the council, Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, and Kenya retained their seats in the 20-member Category C of the IMO.
NIMASA said 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, 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.
The Nigerian delegation the NIMASA DG, the Managing Director of the 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, Lynda Ikpeazu; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Sabiu Zakari; Rector of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, Duja Effedua and Barr. Hassan Bello, Executive Secretary Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC).