Why IMO Sec. Gen. Visited Nigeria

Why IMO Sec. Gen. Visited Nigeria
R-L: Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko, Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo; Secretary General International Maritime Organization (IMO), Kitack Lim, an Officer of NPA, Florence Babalola-Smith at the NPA Pavilion during the 2022 Nigeria International Maritime Summit (NIMS), held in Lagos last week.

 

  •  Misconceptions, illusion, intrigue  on loose
  •   What are the chances?

The Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation(IMO), Mr. Kitack Lim was not invited to Nigeria to rally support or enhance the nation’s image ahead of 2023 December IMO Council elections, MMS Plus finding has revealed.

Many Nigerians are already groping under the illusion that his visit will guarantee the nation’s reinstatement into the Category ‘C’ council of IMO, saying his visit has availed him with first hand information on Nigeria’s unassailable maritime status, especially with the vaunted background of the presumed incidence of piracy decimation at the Gulf of Guinea.

The Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation, Engr. Muazu Sambo had given life to this mirage when he expectantly submitted, “The Secretary General is going back to London better informed than before. And by the grace of God, next year, Nigeria will clinch the council seat.”

The Minister spoke during the familiarization tour of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA) Resource Centre in Kikikiri, Lagos.

The President of Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association(WISTA) Nigeria, Mrs. Eunice Ezeoke caught the bug too when she in a reaction to a question in an interview said, Mr. Lim came to appreciate Nigeria for the landmark achievement of concluding one whole year of maritime operations through the GoG without any incidence of piracy”.

Playing a good guest, perhaps, the IMO scribe in his speech showered praises on Nigeria and the leadership of the ministry and maritime agencies, adding,” I saw what they are doing as far as maritime is concerned.

“An important element is human competency and capability, with leadership being the most paramount to consider, which I have seen exhibited by the Minister; he is an extraordinary and rare leader. I am very confident to look forward to more prosperous opportunities and development of maritime activities of Nigeria”, he added.

While the momentum of his visit is seemingly being misconstrued for tacit endorsement for Nigeria’s IMO Council re-election bid ahead of 2023 London rendezvous, experts have advised that Nigeria and the leadership of the transport sector should not be deluded by the moment but work towards competing with other true maritime nations.

The questions arising herefrom are: What is and what could ultimately be the impact of the IMO scribe to Nigeria? Can his visit sway votes for Nigeria at the next election?

To correct the impression, a highly placed source divulged to MMS Plus that Mr. Lim was invited by the organizers of NIMS to deliver the keynote presentation at the 2022 summit with the theme: “Igniting the Blue Economy”.

“We and indeed the entire industry will be honoured to have your participation at this landmark event particularly as we note that Your Excellency is yet to visit Nigeria as your tenure draws to a close. Nigeria is strategically located and plays a significant leadership in the maritime and shipping ecosystem of the sub-region including but not limited to the Deep Blue Project on maritime security, fleet expansion etc. The visit of the Secretary General will greatly enhance and encourage not only Nigeria but other member States in the sub-region of IMO’s interest in their efforts to invest in compliance with applicable IMO Instruments,” another source obliged this correspondence with the Scribe.

Recall that for the fourth time, Nigeria failed to clinch the coveted Category ‘C’ seat on the IMO Council.

That failure denied Nigeria the pivotal role of contributing to taking key decisions in the global maritime space.

Category C comprises countries which have special interest in maritime transportation or navigation, and whose election to the IMO Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world.

At the election held during the 31st Session of the IMO, Nigeria lost to Kenya by one vote in the Category C elections. Kenya got 111 votes to come 20th, while Nigeria got 110 votes to make 21st. Saudi Arabia got 106, Poland 101, and Liberia 100.

The last time the country got elected into the Council was in 2009, during the administration of Dr. Ade Dosunmu, after its initial election in 2000.

Following this, the former Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemi Saraki acting on the capacity of the senior minister before the coming of Sambo, suspended any reelection bid by Nigeria for the position pending when the nation is able to put in place requirement of a true maritime nation.

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