Nigeria quits MOWCA after failed Sec-Gen election bid 

President Muhammadu Buhari


Nigeria has dumped the Maritime Organization for West and Central Africa (MOWCA) following its failed bid to secure the election of its candidate, Paul Adaliku as Secretary-General of the regional body. 

The country has reportedly spent more than USD5million (about N2.5billion) on the regional body over the past 10 years. 

MOWCA was established in May 1975 through a charter signed in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire as the Ministerial Conference of West and Central African States on Maritime Transport (MINCONMAR). 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 in August 1999. 

MOWCA has 25 member states in West and Central Africa, and was set up to serve as the body for handling all maritime matters that are regional in nature. 

Adaliku, who is a Director in the Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMOT), was Nigeria’s nominee for the Secretary-General position in the election held in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday last week. 

Having lost the election, Nigeria’s delegation to the MOWCA 15th General Assembly alleged that there was disregard for the rules of procedure regarding the eligibility of candidates nominated for the position of the Secretary-General of the organization.

The delegation immediately issued a statement expressing its anger over the loss of the coveted seat.

“It is sad and most depressing given Nigeria’s ardent and consistent support for MOWCA and its activities, that Nigeria as a nation must take a stand against the promotion of illegality, disrespect for the rule of law and contravention of the rules regarding the election of the Secretary-General of MOWCA,” the statement read. 

The delegation said its position followed the presentation and acceptance by MOWCA delegates of over-aged candidates by Guinea and the Republic of Benin, in clear contravention of the rules of the regional body.

“Nigeria draws the attention of the   General Assembly to the comment of MOWCA as presented by MOWCA secretariat in the annotated Agenda circulated this week to the Committee of Experts meeting, which confirmed that Nigeria is the only country that met the age eligibility criteria requirement that candidates must not exceed 55 years. 

“The candidate nominated by Nigeria was 55 years as at when nominations closed in 2020, while the candidates of Guinea was 60 years old and that of Benin was 62 years old,” the statement further stating, arguing that the Nigerian candidate was the only eligible candidate and should have been declared unopposed.

“The apparent willingness of some member states to consider for elections candidates who knowingly contravened the age criteria having exceeded the maximum age limit by more than 5 years in the case of Guinea and 7 years by Benin, does not portend well for the reputation and operation of MOWCA as a rule-based organization,” the statement said. 

The statement further pointed out that no member state has supported MOWCA as much as Nigeria, as the records show the country has contributed over $5million in the past 10 years “with the organization not employing a single Nigerian. 

“It should be noted that not a single citizen of Nigeria has ever been employed in MOWCA, and this is the first time that Nigeria has contested for the position of the Secretary-General of the organization even though it is an uncontested fact that it is essentially the contributions of Nigeria that has sustained the organization over the years,” it said.

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