Some maritime industry operators have attributed Nigeria’s loss at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Council Category C elections to lack of synergy among maritime stakeholders.
They made the claim in interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Saturday.
NAN reports that Nigeria lost a bid for membership of the Governing Council of IMO, polling 110 votes to come 21st – one vote short of the 111 polled by Kenya, which came 20th, the cut-off point for Category C membership of the Council.
West Africa lost its only seat in the council as Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, and Kenya retained their seats in the 20-member Category C of the IMO.
Cpt. Abel Ogah Rtd., President, Merchant Seafarers Association of Nigeria, said that the industry did not have a collaborative approach toward maritime issues.
According to him, there is too much rivalry in the maritime sector, hindering the growth of the sector.
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“We do not have synergy and collaboration within the industry; until we begin to come together and speak with one voice, it will be difficult for us to have a place in IMO.
“In Africa, Nigeria has strategic importance in the maritime sector; so, the issue of Nigeria in IMO is something that we needed to have encouraged a long time ago.
“Quite a number of other African countries participate in the IMO program like its maritime school in Malta, but most times, you do not have Nigeria’s participation,” he said.
Oga also blamed the loss on lack of awareness or ignorance about what Nigeria could gain.
He added that Nigeria’s closure of its land borders could have made aggrieved neighbors vote against Nigeria.
“We have to do an in-house mobilization first, come together in this country and form a formidable voice so that we can speak on the maritime sector,” he said.
Mrs. Obiageli Obi, Director-General, Nigerian Chamber of Shipping, called for synergy and effective communication among agencies in the sector to help stakeholders to speak with one voice.
According to her, much effort was put in place by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and other stakeholders but unfortunately, it did not yield the desired goal.
“A seat on IMO is a good thing as it will come with more influence, networking, ability to make decisions and more development.
“I do not want to say this loss will adversely affect us. We would have been better off if we had the seat but I am thinking in line that we are getting better with our efforts.
“We started in a good way with everyone’s effort; we just need to do more, we should not relent because we failed; we should be more focused and, above all, stand with one voice,” she said.
Obi hoped that by 2020, there would be more policies to push the industry forward, ensure an enabling environment, help in vessel acquisition and encourage shipowners.