By Oyeniyi Iwakun
The Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside has given the reasons for Nigeria’s loss in the Category “C” at the just concluded International Maritime Organization (IMO) Council elections.
Speaking to journalists at the G7++ friends of Gulf of Guinea in Lagos yesterday, the NIMASA boss explained that contrary to the impression held by the public, the IMO election was lost as a result of many factors far from NIMASA’s leadership failures but as a result of late preparation, poor consultation, logistics constraints, among others.
He said: “We have been misrepresented in the media about the loss in our quest to be elected into the IMO Council. I think that a lot of uniformed persons keep giving commentaries that are simply laughable. Our original approach is to dismiss it and to ignore it but when you allow wrong information to dominate the space for a very long time; it begins to develop some life.
“Recall that Nigeria lost the election into IMO Council in December 2011 and since then we have made efforts to be reelected. The choice of who gets elected into the council is actually both democratic process and peer comparative process.
“We started late in our quest to be elected into the IMO Council. If you noticed the trend of the election, literally all those who won the election in the category “C” were simply reelected. In the African continent, there was no new country. Morocco, Egypt, Liberia, South Africa were simply reelected.
The NIMASA boss also attributed the loss to Nigeria’s inability to fulfill some obligations as demanded by IMO. According to him, other countries were hosting IMO events on regular basis but Nigeria couldn’t do so because of financial constraints.
“Before, whenever Nigeria bids for election into IMO, we will go from country to country. This time we are just coming out of recession and we didn’t think it wise to send delegations from country to country, you know how much that would cost. We presented ourselves and lost due to few things we have not been able to tidy up which has to do with administrative processes. I don’t want to come here to begin to talk about who did what.”
“Mind you, by rules of engagement, NIMASA or the maritime administration in our country is not supposed to directly engage international organizations; ministry of foreign affairs is supposed to do that on our behalf and we leverage on that. I don’t think I am here to reel out reasons why we lost the election” he said.
Dakuku said misconceptions and misrepresentation of facts about security and other related issues about the Nigerian maritime domain is also part of the rationale behind the loss even as he announced that Nigeria went for the election with only three (3) delegates and spent less than 100,000,000 million naira; an amount he said was very minimal compared to what some other countries that participated in the election spent.
“On the issue of piracy, we cannot deny that it must have had impact on the election. Our colleagues didn’t have enough information about what we are doing to tackle piracy and there was a general impression that Nigeria wasn’t doing enough to tackle the issue of piracy but by the time we put the information in a proper perspective, most of their home countries have given them instructions to vote in a particular direction. Again, Liberia is within the Gulf of Guinea and they were reelected into the Council” he said
Dr. Dakuku explained that NIMASA had experienced remarkable improvements under his leadership which got the acknowledgment of the IMO and the international maritime communities even as he expressed optimism in Nigeria coming out victorious in future elections in the IMO Council.
“We are the first country in Africa to subject ourselves to mandatory audit by the IMO and after the audit we were highly rated as performing very well in our ports, flags and coastal safe function.
“In the last one year, we have attracted more training than any other African country. I don’t think I want to reel out those statistics here about the things we are doing. NIMASA has sent over two thousand five hundred (2,500) seafarers abroad for training and one thousand four hundred (1,400) graduated at a time.
“We are sending two hundred (200) cadets to Egypt and eighty nine (89) to United Kingdom making the total of two hundred and eighty nine (289) by December or January next year to do their seatime” he said
Dakuku also seized the medium to express confidence and throw a public support for the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police in the face of the ongoing social media campaign.
The NIMASA boss who acknowledged the need for reforms in NPF opined that SARS which is a unit in the NPF created as response to rising case of crime and armed robbery needs to be sustained based on its remarkable successes in Rivers State, said the call for its scrap is due to its refusal to compromise like other security agencies in Rivers state even as he described the agitators as criminals whose criminal activities are being thwarted by SARS men.
“There is an ongoing campaign championed by governor Nyesome Wike of Rivers state and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the SARS wing of the Nigeria Police that SARS should be scrapped.
“Consistently, for the past eighteen months, Rivers State has occupied number one position in the area of high profile crime and several persons have been beheaded in the state.
“Recently a lady Barrister Mary Obe was assassinated recently just because she was pursuing a case of her younger brother who was assassinated earlier in the year. Another banker was also assassinated while stepping out of work recently and just because one political leader seeks to control all the institutions of government and this particular institution of government has said no because they are federal agency and for all the people of Nigeria, he has decided to institute a campaign against it.” He said.