Outcome changes IMO
- NIMASA DG clashes with Perm. Sec. over election
- Capt. Olugbade faces recall
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary General election took place last week, with Africa defeated again, against the great expectation in the global maritime community that Africa deserve the seat this time in nearly 60 years of IMO as the continent constitutes 25 percent of the body’s membership.
Analysts have however explained that the trend could continue in decades to come unless concerted efforts are made to address the problems.
Meanwhile, the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, who traveled to London for the election against the disapproval of the Permanent Secretary of Federal Ministry of Transport, Muhammad Bashir, did not attend the meeting out of fear, but instructed the Alternate Permanent Representative (APR) to IMO, Capt, Ibraheem Olugbade never to tell one
about it. Consequently, there is plan to recall Olugbade before his due retirement in November, 2015 over allegation that he covers Akpobolokemi’s excesses in London up.
The election saw the emergence of a South Korean candidate, Mr. Ki- Tack Lim as the Secretary-General with effect from January, 2016, for an initial term of four years. He succeeds the Japanese current Secretary-General, Mr. Koji Sekimizu, whose tenure will expire on 31st December, 2015.
Lim defeated 5 other candidates to emerge winner with 26 votes from the 140 member IMO council. The only African candidate, Mr. Juvenal Shiundu of Kenya fought a good fight having lost at the 4th round.
The election, it was gathered unprecedentedly dragged on to a 6th round during which the final ballot was between South Korea and Denmark. While the Danish candidate polled 14 votes to emerge second, many attendees were of the view that the best candidate did not win the election, alleging that the financial muscle of South Korea may have influenced the outcome of the polls. But an Analyst, asked if it is a coincidence that a South Korean is the current Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) and another is to lead the IMO.
A source in Nigeria High Commission in London who prefers not mentioned said, “I would not say that Africa lost, rather it is an advancement for Africa. Africa emphatically registered its presence at that election and sent a warning shot as to what is to come. Africa now needs to get its house in order for the future. Africa has 43 member states of IMO, making up 25 percent of the organization’s membership. That is a formidable strength in terms of numbers and can indeed use its numerical strength to decide which direction the global maritime industry goes. The 40 member council which elects the SG of IMO, unfortunately has only 4 Africa countries as members. These are: South Africa, Kenya, Liberia and Morocco.
“A candidate contesting for the post of SG must secure 20 plus 1 votes to be elected. What can 4 African votes do in this circumstance? What Africa should concentrate on now is to increase its membership of IMO council through conscious efforts. African countries must pay up their dues to IMO so as to be eligible to vote and be voted for during council elections which comes up November this year, he noted.”
He continued, “African countries should contest council elections into categories “A” and “B” which had hitherto been the exclusive preserve of the so called developed countries. If Liberia and South Africa get elected into categories “A” and “B” they would have freed up 2 places in the traditional category “C” for 2 other Africa countries to get on board. It is a game of numbers and Africa has the numbers”
Speaking with a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who was a board member of NIMASA: “it is a shame that due to the incompetence of the leadership of NIMASA, Nigeria is not in IMO council and may never be in a long time to come unless President Muhammad Buhari sacks the management immediately so that a new crop of competent and dedicated management refocuses and reposition the organisation to play its key role in the continent.
“There is absolutely no reason why Nigeria should not be in IMO council but Akpobolokemi, who is the Lord of the manor had insisted that Nigeria does not need IMO. Ridiculous! This though is shared by one of his Executive Directors, Capt. Bala Agaba, who is still living in the past! So, as you can see, a combination of factors made it impossible for an African to win the IMO SG election this time but there is hope for the future with great strides made by Kenya at the just concluded election. And for Nigeria as a key player in the continent, NIMASA needs urgent reorganization. There are competent and tested Nigerian maritime professionals to do the job and make Nigeria proud,” he added.
MMS Plus Weekly sought to establish the benefits of the membership of IMO council and that of SG to countries and found from expert thus: “The benefits are enormous. First, is the recognition of the country which produced the SG and by extension the region, says an African who is staff of the IMO.
“In the current dispensation, Asia is rising continuously while Africa is virtually stagnant, maritime-wise. The current SG is an Asian and the incoming is also an Asian. Again, such positions attract maritime investments. Investors would like to do business with a country that produces the SG and that is a win-win situation. Also, the SG position has the capacity to sway decisions in one way or the other. An African in that position will be able raise the maritime profile of the country by attracting necessary capacity building activities. Can you imagine what that position will do for the global image of your new President Buhari’s administration? He explained.
However, the recurring question since after this election is: How can the head of an organization of 171 member states be determined by only 21 members, that is, 40 member council, out of which only 21 determine who becomes SG of IMO? As a result, an argument has arisen that the future SGs must be elected by the General Assembly of IMO which is made up of 171 members of which Africa makes up 25 percent of the membership.
Meanwhile, moves are being made to recall Olugbade in the Ministry over allegations that he is covering the excesses of the Akpobolokemi in London as his deputy, Engr. Suleiman Anas is being programmed to act.
MMS Plus Weekly gathered that the Permanent Secretary is pitched against Akpobolokemi over rumours that the Director-General had “settled” him with dollars against official written directive from the ministry not to travel to London for IMO election, which Akpobolokemi defied.
Sources said that the Permanent Secretary is therefore furious and have denied ever receiving any money from him or his agent.