When Nigeria lost its bid to get re-elected into category ‘C’ of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Council in December 2017, it was the third consecutive time the nation lost in the quest to be re-elected into IMO.
Recall that the last time Nigeria won its IMO Council bid was in 2007 under Dr. Ade Dosunmu who was then the Director-General of NIMASA and every attempt made since 2011 to return to the council had failed.
Another opportunity comes up this year, but what chances does Nigeria have to get it right at the 2019 IMO Governing Council elections?
IMO is the global standard-setting authority for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping. Its main role is to create a regulatory framework for the shipping industry that is fair and effective, universally adopted and universally implemented.
The IMO Council, which is elected biennially, is the executive organ of the organization and is responsible for supervising its work between sessions of the IMO General Assembly. The Council performs all the functions of the Assembly, except that of making recommendations to governments on maritime safety and pollution prevention.
The IMO Council is made up of 40 countries elected in three categories – A, B and C. Category A consists of 10 States with the largest interest in providing international shipping services. Category B also has 10 States “with the largest interest in international seaborne trade” while category C comprises 20 States not electable under Categories A and B.
According to IMO, Category C Council members are States 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”.
Speaking on the preparedness of Nigeria in the forth coming election, the Public Relations Officer of the Nigerian Indigenous Ship-owners Association (NISA) Engr. Emmanuel Ilori said that the government was geared up and ready to try again.
“There is no doubt that the government is making efforts to get into the Category C of the IMO Council. I strongly believe that the Nigerian government is doing all that is necessary to ensure it gets into the Category C of the IMO Council” he said.
According to him, if re-elected, Nigeria will maximize the opportunity for the accelerated and sustained growth of the maritime community. The country’s interests will also be represented at the highest levels of international maritime policy making which will be of benefit to the country’s maritime sector.
“Whether Nigeria is at the level of development which it should be vying for that position is a different story altogether, but as a nation, we have every reason to be on the IMO Council given the peculiarity of our maritime sector. The large maritime environment the country is exposed to and the volume of cargoes that come in, also mean that Nigeria should desire a position at the IMO Council. You also have to note that the nation is the 8th largest oil producing country in the world” he added.
Nigeria has good reasons to want to be part of the IMO Council because that is where regulations are passed that affects its maritime environment. With a population of approximately 200 million people, it is important that the nation is at the IMO to influence the decisions that take place there for the benefit of its people and the economy.