*Why we changed nominee -Ministry
* Congo, Ghana chairmen disagree on recall procedures
* Why Adalikwu was nominated Nigeria despite age controversy
At last, the recalled Secretary General of the Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa(MOWCA), Dr. Paul Adalikwu has resigned as a director in the Federal Ministry of Transportation, from where he was nominated for the regional body’s position as scribe even as he met with the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Gboyega Oyetola, last week.
Sources said he had closed door meeting with the Minister over his raging recall as Nigeria’s nominee to MOWCA but no details of the meeting was made available but it is expected that the subject was the letter sent to the Minister from the new Chairman/President of MOWCA Council of Ministers, Mr. Honore Sayi.
Dr. Adalikwu’s resignation is not unconnected with pressure from the Ministry of External Affairs and the Office of Head of Service of the Federation over age discrepancy controversy which followed submission of credentials for MOWCA election and pockets of alleged financial malfeasance which include the regional Maritime Bank project.
Following the withdrawal of the nomination of the Dr. Adalikwu as the incumbent Secretary General of MOWCA by Nigeria through the office of Head of Service of the Federation penultimate week, a Diplomatic source who pleaded anonymity has said that Nigeria can recall her nominee if deemed necessary.
Speaking with MMS Plus the source asserted that under diplomatic protocols a country has the liberty to recall a candidate from regional or international positions whether elected or not for obvious reasons especially when it is not a private citizen but an employee of the government who is on leave absence or secondment.
He was replaced with Mrs. Nneka Ogochukwu Obianyor who is the Deputy Director, Reforms Coordination in NIMASA as the new regional body’s SG.
The Federal Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy had written to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA) informing the management of the replacement of Dr Adalikwu as MOWCA Scribe with Mrs. Obianyor
While Mrs. Obianyor is yet to assume the new office, the development has thrown up dust and numerous concerns bordering on the propriety of the action by the ministry’s leadership, arguing that it negates the rules of procedures and articles of MOWCA.
The proponents of the supremacy of the articles and rules of MOWCA have argued that Nigeria had presented Adalikwu in 2021 for election at the regional body and won for a four-year term of office only to recall him in two years in office, a move capable of making Nigeria to lose the position to other nations.
Nigeria’s Dr Adalikwu was elected Secretary-General of MOWCA at the 16th Extra-Ordinary Session of the organisation in Accra, Ghana in 2021. He was unanimously accepted by transport ministers of MOWCA member countries to run the organisation’s affairs for four years from its headquarters in Abidjan.
While the reason for his recall is still sketchy as no official statement has been made by the Ministry, an online report has reported that Dr. Adalikwu was alleged by the office of the Head of Service to be enmeshed in financial impropriety in his two years in office as well as collecting salary as an employee of the Federal Government while on leave of absence since 2021 that he assumed office as the SG.
According to the report, ‘Apart from incidents of financial impropriety leveled against him by the Chair of MOWCA(Chairman and President of Bureau of Ministers),you won’t believe that Dr. Adalikwu still collected his full salary as an employee of Federal Government”.
The former chairman of MOWCA, Hon. Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, had written a note of “No Confidence” on Adalikwu, alleging fraud in the body, thereby putting to rest the question of acceptability of the new nominee. Rather, the concern at this point is whether a bye-election will be conducted since the recalled SG emerged through the ballot.
While the question of whether the SG can be recalled without the extra-ordinary meeting or approval of the council of ministers, it was gathered that Asiamah’s tenure as chairman of MOWCA ended in July,raising questions on when the allegation of fraud against Adalikwu was written. It simply presupposes that this saga has long been raging under.
A source at the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy also told MMS Plus to recall that Dr. Adalikwu was enmeshed in age discrepancy controversy during the 2021 MOWCA, arguing also that the election was conducted on the basis of nations not candidates as such a nominee can be replaced.
He added that when a Minister of Transportation who is member of the MOWCA council of minister is changed by a member country the individual ceases to be a member of the council and make way for the new minister.
He also accused Adalikwu of using the new Chairman/President of MOWCA Council of Ministers,Mr. Honore Sayi, Transport Minister of Republic of Congo who resumed office in August to write to the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, saying Adalikwu is now answerable to MOWCA having been elected as SG and not Nigeria.
He argued that Adalikwu tutored the Chairman and authored the letter sent to Nigeria in his defence.
The letter reads in part: “It is instructive to state categorically that whereas Nigeria nominated and sponsored Dr. Paul Adalikwu to contest election into office as Secretary General of MOWCA, it is pertinent to underscore that he assumed the office after been voted for at the I6th Extra Ordinary General Meeting held in Accra, Ghana in November 2021 by 23 member states of MOWCA. Although a Nigerian Citizen, he is now answerable to the entire member states of MOWCA.
“Therefore, despite the seriousness of the situation, the prerequisite of prior consultations with the Chairman/President of MOWCA in order to consult should have been the proper cause of action and then he is given an opportunity to respond”, the letter added.
The MOWCA boss said the action contradicted Article 16 of the Rules of Procedures1999 that no member country has the right to single-handedly nominate an interim Secretary General to replace duly elected one.
However, the MOWCA Chairman and President failed to disclose how MOWCA can penalize a Secretary General or President who has a proven case of fraud after investigation. To observers, can a nation remain with a moral and image burden at the international body because the article and rules of procedures forecloses recall of a discredited nominee?
However, information sympathetic to Adalikwu has it that he has not started receiving salary from MOWCA since assumption of office in2021 rather he receives a monthly allowance of $5000 approved by the Chairman and President of the Bureau of Ministers.
Also, Adalikwu noted that his request for salary as the SG and increment in salary for other MOWCA employees is yet to be approved but placed for consideration in November,2023.
Adalikwu said to be 55 years old as at close of the entry in 2020 was the Director, Maritime Services in the Federal Ministry of Transportation and was said to be the only eligible candidate by age.
It was further gathered that Adalikwu had declared in his profile that he started working at the age of 18, a report that was inconsistent with his employment record even as it was gathered that he had begged some Nigerian authorities to settle him with the MOWCA SG position because he had one year in 2020 to retire from service.
It was then a surprise to many that after he clichéd the MOWCA job, he still maintained his position as a director in the Ministry, leading to the alleged collection of salary while on a supposed leave of absence.
Nigeria remains the highest contributor of funds in MOWCA having contributed about $10 million in the last 12 years.
The new SG, a lawyer, until her nomination was the Deputy Director, Reforms Coordination, NIMASA. She was appointed the Registrar of Ships, Nigerian Ship Registration Office, NIMASA in 2018. Prior to this, Nneka was redeployed from the Legal Services Department, where she performed numerous roles including heading the Litigation and Case Management Unit to the Reform Coordination and Strategic Management Unit of the agency in 2017.
A graduate of Law, she was called to the Nigerian Bar 30 years ago and had a stint in private practice before joining NIMASA, then NMA in 1999.
She has a Masters in International Law from the IMO International Maritime Law Institute in Malta in 2001. She was a member of the Inter-ministerial Committee that reviewed the 1962 Merchant Shipping Act and contributed in the making of the Merchant Shipping Act, 2007.
She is also the Secretary General of Women In Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa(WIMOWCA).
MOWCA was established in May 1975 a as the Ministerial Conference of West and Central African States on Maritime Transport (MINCONMAR), also called Charter of Abidjan
The name was changed to MOWCA as part of reforms adopted by the General Assembly of Ministers of Transport, at an extraordinary session of the Organisation held in Abidjan the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire from 4-6 August 1999.
Objective of MOWCA include to serve the regional and international community for handling all maritime matters that are regional in character; cost effective shipping, pollution free marine environment and promoting safety and security in the region’s maritime domain
MOWCA unifies 25 countries on the West and Central African shipping range (inclusive of five landlocked countries). These countries comprise of 20 coastal states bordering the North and South Atlantic Ocean with 5 landlocked countries