As the world maritime nations gear up for another International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Governing Council meeting in London, this November, 2015, Nigeria’s sagging image as a global debtor-nation may degenerate to a pariah status, while that of Kenya, her East African brother is soaring.
Nigeria, which lost election into the category “C” seat of IMO Governing Council in 2011 as a result of her global indebtedness of N18, 900, 000 ($90, 000) is not showing any sign of re-contesting or paying the debt incurred through the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
Meanwhile, Kenya made the category ‘C’ in 2011 and retained it in 2013 and in November, 2015, she is fielding a candidate for the position of Secretary-General of IMO in the person of Mr. Juvenal Shiundu.
According to Nigeria’s High Commissioner to United Kingdom, Dr. Dalhatu Tafida, in a memo to former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, on why Nigeria lost the IMO Council seat, “One of the key reasons for Nigeria’s failure is the long standing indebtedness to organizations, groups, associations or companies which rendered maritime-related services to Nigeria in the recent past. Most of the organizations involved comprise member states of the powerful European union which in protest, did not vote for Nigeria as a block of countries.
“Despite several letters, emails, correspondences and reminders to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), to urgently settle the outstanding bills amounting to about US$90, 000. 00 no action was taken. Nigeria was therefore tagged a debtor, which obviously did not endear her to other regional groups within the organizations. The result is evidently clear as Nigeria lost very substantial block votes from those groups of countries who were being owed.”
He continued: “organizations to which Nigeria is indebted include European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), which is responsible for the European Union Ship Long Range Identification and Tracking Data Centre.”
Tafida explained further that EMSA wrote to the Nigerian National Data Centre operated on behalf of Nigeria by pole star, demanding the payment of LRIT Services received by Nigeria as provided by EMSA, nothing however that the payments for these services were never settled by NIMASA.
Another indebtedness is that of the International Mobile Satellite Organisation (IMSO), which is IMO appointed LRIT Co-ordinator following the entry into force of SOLAS Regulation V/19-1 and adopted Resolution MSC 275(85).
“I was deeply concerned about these over-due payments that I had to write to NIMASA in my capacity as Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to IMO. A copy of my letter reference is attached. My fear that this matter had the capacity to derail Nigeria’s chances of re-election have been confirmed, “the High Commissioner asserted.
Siting an instance, he added, “I wish to recall a similar scenario with the Commonwealth in the last two years (2009) in which non-payment of Nigeria’s financial contributions led to the loss of our membership of the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth. Headquarters instructed the High Commission to pay the outstanding debts, with a pledge for subsequent reimbursement.”
MMS Plus Weekly, however, gathered that the Director-General of NIMASA, Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi had since concluded that the participation of NIMASA in IMO Council meetings is a jamboree. Even with the sagging image of Nigeria in the global maritime community, NIMASA is still not interested in paying the debt or preparing for the 2015 IMO council meeting.
The election which had twenty six countries contesting in category ‘C’ was by secret ballot. The result placed Nigeria in the 21st position with 99 votes. The methodology was by simple majority.
The General Assembly of IMO elected the following countries into category ‘C’; Australia, Bahamas, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Liberia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand and Turkey.
However, Kenya, boosted with the election into category ‘C’ of the IMO Council has fielded a candidate for the position of a Secretary-General.
Shiundu is contesting against five other candidates from Europe and Asia.
As a result, the Government of Kenya has requested the support of the Pan Africa Association for Port Cooperation (PAPC) for its candidate.
The election of the Secretary General of IMO is done by the 40 member states, who are members of the IMO’s Council.
Shiundu has over the years worked extensively in the IMO in support of Africa’s cause for maritime institutional and human capacity building.
He is credited with the successful establishment and running of IMO’s Regional Presence Programme (RPP) which has resulted in the opening of three sub-regional offices of the IMO in Accra, Ghana; Abidjan, Cote d’ivoire and Nairobi, Kenya.
Since the establishment of the IMO in 1958, Africa has never had an opportunity to occupy the post of Secretary-General.
Under Barr. Temi Omatseye, as the Director-General, NIMASA fielded Mrs. Monica Mbanefo for the position of Sectary-General, IMO but it turned out unsuccessful. Today, Nigeria is nowhere near IMO decision-making seat.