We need to put our house in order first – Minister   

By Godwin Oritse

The Federal Government 
has suspended Nigeria’s participation in subsequent elections of the International Maritime Organization, IMO, pending when the country do the right things that will make her excel as a maritime nation.

Speaking at a just concluded maritime stakeholders meeting held in Lagos, Minister of State for Transportation, Ms Gbemi Saraki, said that Nigeria must suspend every effort towards IMO elections until the issues confronting the industry are dealt with once and for all.

Saraki also said that issues like maritime security and unfavourable media reports that have negatively impacted on the country internationally must be addressed before Nigeria can stand for IMO elections.

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She explained that even though Nigeria is beginning to overcome the challenge of piracy, the fight must be sustained adding that there must be a holistic approach to resolving the issues that have led the Nigeria’s continuous failure at the elections.

She however, appealed to the maritime media to be conscious of the nation’s economic and security well-being in the course of discharging their duties as reporters.

Similarly, Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, blamed Nigeria’s failure on the media reports that are read by the international shipping community.

Recall that  for the fourth time, Nigeria failed to clinch the coveted Category ‘C’ seat on the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Council.

That failure denied Nigeria the pivotal role of contributing to taking key decisions in the global maritime space.

Category C comprises countries which have special interest in maritime transportation or navigation, and whose election to the IMO Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world.

At an election held during the 31st Session of the IMO, Nigeria lost to Kenya by one vote in the Category C elections. Kenya got 111 votes to come 20th, while Nigeria got 110 votes to make 21st. Saudi Arabia got 106, Poland 101, and Liberia 100.

The last time the country got elected into the Council was in 2009, during the administration of Dr. Ade Dosunmu, after its initial election in 2000.

Commenting on this development, Former President, Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Greg Ogbeifun, said the nation should look inward and develop its capacity and expand its platforms in other to earn a better reputation in the comity of maritime nations.

Ogbeifun stated: “there are still some challenges. From the international perspective,

 I think we have done well, but what is remaining is for us to now look inward and see how we can develop our own resources.”

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