Lessons for Nigeria from the defeat at IMO Council’s election

Penultimate Friday Nigeria for the first time in about three decades, failed to be elected into the Council of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
Operators in the industry have adduced various reasons for Nigeria’s failure to be elected into the Council.
While expressing disappointments over Nigeria’s failure to be elected into the Council which is the second highest decision making body of the IMO, next only to the General Assembly, we need to identify and solve the root cause of the issue.

The Council is made up of 40 countries elected in three categories; Category A and Category B made up of advanced maritime nations, including the United States of America (USA), Great Britain, France, Germany and others; and Category C made up of 20 other countries.
Nigeria, along with other less developed maritime nations have often sought election into Category C of the IMO Council, but at 27th IMO General Assembly which held in London from 21st to 26th November 2011, Nigeria lost her seat on the Council by a lone vote to Denmark.
Denmark had polled 100 votes against Nigeria’s 99 to win the 20th slot in the Category C effectively, ending the nation’s aspiration to serve on the Council for the 15th consecutive time.

Weeks before the election, Nigeria through the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) began an intense campaign, which involved sending of delegations to different IMO member states soliciting for their support for votes.
The sending of delegation to different countries to solicit support for the Council seat is not new to Nigeria because that have been the usual practice by Nigeria every two years before the election.
Curious enough is the fact that no other country (member state in the IMO) has ever led a delegation to Nigeria seeking for our support for the council seat to our knowledge.
If no country has ever come to Nigeria to solicit for support then we need to ask what is wrong with our country or it is another way to divert fund meant for the development of the nation’s maritime sector?.

In all these trips termed delegation to other countries to solicit for votes during the election, each of the delegation has at least 5 members, who travel to that country and spend a minimum of three days and we ask at whose expense.
Some of the African countries that were fortunate enough to make it into the IMO Council under Category C include Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Liberia and South Africa.
The Nigerian delegation to London, venue of the 27th IMO General Assembly was made up of Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar; Directors in the Federal Ministry of Transport and heads of maritime parastatals, including the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and several other stakeholders.
On the cumulative we were told that the Nigerian delegation was made of 40 members but we were told that only three out of the 40 persons can be allowed into the Assembly at a time, so what were the rest doing in London?

We need to ask what have been our benefits for being elected into the Council for the past thirty years, has it improved on the level of participation of indigenous operators in the sector? Has there been improvement in manpower for the industry?
The only benefit we think our membership of the IMO Council has done for us is our being privy to IMO regulations before they are release but of what essence it is when our maritime industry has not improved .
We have lost the election and this not the time to blame anyone for our failure but a time for the government and stakeholders to consolidate and improve the nation’s maritime industry.
Subsequently we need to cut down on the money we expend on our campaign for the Council seat and the number of delegates to the council.

Copyright Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to www.shipsandports.com.ng as the source.