WORLD MARITIME DAY CONTRIBUTION By: Engr. I. Olu. Akinsoji, M. Sc., FNSE.
Nigeria celebrated the day on the 30/9/2013 @ Transcorp Metropolitan Hotel Calabar, Nigeria.
2. Consequently at the symposium of the World Maritime Day held on the 26th September, the Secretary General, Mr. Koji Sekimizu declared the theme of the organization as “Sustainable Development: IMO’s contribution beyond Rio+20”.
3. He highlighted the importance of shipping to the globalized world, Growth and prosperity as well as shipping contributions to the global life sustainable pillars; economic, social and environmental. Member states were invited to carry forward the discussion on the message not just within the shipping sector, but also beyond, as it is important to impress upon stakeholders outside the maritime industry, the important role the maritime transportation system plays in our world.
4. Nigerian Government through the Ministry of Transport, in response to the IMO call organized a successful World Maritime Day on the 30th.September 2013 at the Transcorp Metropolitan Hotel in Calabar where the Secretary General was represented. Papers relevant to the theme were presented and discussed.
5. IMO on its own part, used the occasion to take stock of its activities and re-affirm its commitments under the grouping of the overall tangible elements of shipping. The organization expressed strong desire to continue to work with its member states including Nigeria through the Seven Elements for sustainable global shipping development. They include:
• Global Standards – the development and implementation of Conventions, etc;
• Energy Efficiency – technical and operational measures;
• Technology innovations for safety, environmental protection, security and efficient operation; • Education and Training to ensure a continuous supply of quality Seafarers and essential Experts;
• Maritime Security;
• Maritime Traffic Management; and
• Maritime Infrastructure including aids to navigation, search and rescue, port facilities, etc.
6. The world shipping trade is growing by the day, influenced by global demand of movement of goods, infrastructural facilities, and other essentials of life whereas the development of the supporting elements for sustenance of the trade is a sovereignty matter only subject to global cooperation and encouragement. It is the sovereign states, either as flag state or port state even as coastal states that must play their respective role in the chain of movement for the overall performance and sustenance of shipping. It is therefore important that Nigeria, qualify for the three categories of the states assume the huge responsibility to the world of shipping and in the region considering the volume of its trade. The national policies and policy thrust should therefore focus on the seven elements of support for sustainable maritime development and to enhance the sovereignty-relevance of Nigeria in comity of nations. It behooves us therefore as we align our nation with the IMO theme of the World Maritime Day, to similarly take stock of these tangible groups of elements and assess ourselves as a nation.
7. For instance, Nigeria could boast of carriage of 16% of the cargo it was generating into the world freight market in the early eighties including the operational personnel employment opportunities. The inability to sustain those developments has reduced us to leaving all our generated cargo to be freighted by those who can sustain and further develop carriage of goods by sea.
8. It is also worthy of note that the Nautical college now Maritime Academy of Nigeria was established thirty four years ago. The objective was to supply seafarers, specialized skills and experts for sustainable development of the maritime industry. The industrial-based institution has not significantly achieved its objectives because the product linkage policy with the industry is very weak. A situation that giving room for employment of persons who may not carryout duties assigned to them efficiently enough for sustainable development of the industry.
9. Another observation that is worth mentioning is that we are gradually getting comfortable assessing industrial performance from the amount of revenue derived from taxes, tariffs, levies and deductions rather than from services which have the attributes of positive influence on administration for sustainable development. These and many more are issues of concern to some of us who believe that the occasion is appropriate for a realistic reflection that will promote the necessary changes for sustainable development of the maritime industry of our dear country.
10. Apart from the general lapses which are not the subject of this paper, the maritime industry requires professionalism and expertise in various areas of activities, and unless this is recognized by the political class we may be getting deeper into the abuse of the future. The Maritime Agencies and public entities; NPA, NIMASA, NIWA, FMOT, Legislative Committees on Maritime issues should consider very urgently the importance of a formal recognition of organized professional and expert bodies, develop policies of encouragement and motivation, and give them opportunities to contribute to policies, policy implementation, appraisals and enforcement procedures. There are such professional and expert bodies struggling to make inputs to the work of the nation with marginal success. Such bodies like, Nigerian Association of Marine Engineers and Surveyors, Nigerian association of Master Mariner, Nigerian Society of Mariners, and Nigerian Port consultative Council etc.
11. Involving these bodies in the fields of their specialization in policy formulation and developmental strategies will give the opportunities to the member’s thereby further developing them for the overall development of the nation’s maritime industry. In addition the Minister of Transport may wish to consider using his good offices to improve the coordination and cooperation of all the Maritime Agencies. Shipping does not thrive in an uncoordinated environment. With these actions considered and taken, the industry will gradually become comparative in global system; begin to earn its rightful place to emerge on the track of sustainable development in line with the theme of the World Maritime Day.
Engr Olu Akinsoji is Nigeria’s former Alternate Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). He delivered this paper when Nigeria celebrated the 2013 World Maritime Day on September 30, 2013, at Transcorp Metropolitan Hotel Calabar, Cross River State.