Nigeria is not interested in contesting for a place in the Council of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and this is official.
SHIPS & PORTS DAILY can authoritatively reveal that because the Federal Government is not convinced about the benefits the country has derived from previous campaigns for the IMO Council seat and presence on the Council, Nigeria will not vie for election into any of the three categories of the 40-member council at the 28th Session of the IMO Assembly holding from 25th November to 4th December, 2013, in London.
IMO is the United Nations’ specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.
The Organization consists of an Assembly, a Council and five main Committees: the Maritime Safety Committee; the Marine Environment Protection Committee; the Legal Committee; the Technical Co-operation Committee and the Facilitation Committee. A number of Sub-Committees are also set up to support the work of the main technical committees.
The Council is elected by the Assembly for two-year terms beginning after each regular session of the Assembly. The Council is the executive organ of IMO and is responsible, under the Assembly, for supervising the work of the Organization. Between sessions of the Assembly, which is every two years, the Council performs all the functions of the Assembly, except the function of making recommendations to Governments on maritime safety and pollution prevention which is reserved for the Assembly.
Other functions of the Council are to: to-ordinate the activities of the organs of the Organization; consider the draft work programme and budget estimates of the Organization and submit them to the Assembly; receive reports and proposals of the Committees and other organs and submit them to the Assembly and Member States, with comments and recommendations as appropriate; appoint the Secretary-General, subject to the approval of the Assembly; and enter into agreements or arrangements concerning the relationship of the Organization with other organizations, subject to approval by the Assembly.
The IMO Council consists of three categories: A, B and C.
Category A consists of 10 countries which are considered to represent the largest interest in providing international shipping services; Category B also has 10 countries considered to represent interests with the largest interest in international seaborne trade; while Category C which has mostly developing nations has 20 countries “which have special interests in maritime transport or navigation, and whose election to the Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world.”
The Council members for the 2012-2013 bi-ennium in Category A are China, Greece, Italy, Japan, Norway, Panama, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States of America. Category B consists of Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden; while Category C Council members include Australia, Bahamas, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Liberia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey.
Nigeria’s membership of the Organisation could be traced back to 51 years ago as it became a member of IMO on March 15, 1962.
Although the country was expelled from the Organisation during the military regime of the late Gen. Sanni Abacha, especially after the killing of environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni Nine, it was readmitted in 2000 when the then Minister of Transport, Chief Ojo Madueke, led a Nigerian delegation to win an election into the Council, in Category C. The country could not retain the seat during a subsequent election, but regained the seat six years ago in the same Category. It however lost re-election in 2011.
“We spend millions of naira every two years in the name of campaigning for the IMO Council seat and the current management of NIMASA is of the opinion that such money could be better spent by channeling it into the development of the local shipping industry. The current leadership does not believe in jamboree. We believes in practical development of the shipping sector and that is why we are not contesting this time around,” a top management staff at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), who said he could not speak officially on its behalf, informed SHIPS & PORTS DAILY.
Despite not contesting the IMO Council seat, however, Nigeria will be joining 169 other IMO nations in the meeting of the General Assembly which opens in London on Monday.