Minister of Transport, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi

Nigeria came within a whisker of returning to Category C of the Council of the International Maritime Organisation IMO, at the weekend in London, in the just concluded election, losing by just one vote to Kenya, in what stakeholders described as marked improved performance.

Though, the country lost its bid for membership of the  Council, the highest decision making organ of the apex global maritime regulatory body and an agency of the United Nations, Nigeria’s performance remains a remarkable improvement when compared with the 2017 outing, when she lost by 12 votes.

This also implies that West Africa has lost its only seat on the Council, as Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, and Kenya retained their seats on the 20-member Category C of the IMO.

It was gathered that Nigeria’s delegation to the 31st Session of the IMO had put up a spirited campaign for election into the Governing Council, whose membership the country lost in 2011. The country polled 110 votes to come 21st, one short of the 111 polled by Kenya, which came 20th, the cut off point for the Category C membership of the IMO’s Council.

Nigeria will have another chance for a shot at the Council in 2021, during the next biennial session of the IMO Assembly. Being on the Council brings opportunities and openings for nations to be involved in various decisions that will impact on the maritime sector globally and the country in particular.

Minister of State for Transport, Gbemisola Saraki, who led the country’s delegation, said the campaign for the 2021 bid had begun. Saraki said it was a matter of paramount national interest that “Nigeria gets a seat on the maritime table”. 

She said the country would, as a first task, appraise the factors behind its narrow loss. “We are going to go back to the countries that voted to ask them what they did not think we have done well or why they did not vote for us,” Saraki also stated.

She however insists Nigeria has done remarkably well in reforming its maritime governance systems to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals SDGs. She pointed to the milestones in maritime safety and security, gender equality, and environmental responsibility.

Saraki was delighted by the determined effort of the Nigerian delegation to campaign for the Category C seat.

The Nigerian delegation also included Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside; whose agency was the lead anchor. Others were Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman and the Executive Secretary/CEO, Nigerian Shippers Council NSC, Hassan Bello.

Others include chairman Senate Committee on Maritime Transport , Senator Danjuma Goje, chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, Lynda Ikpeazu; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Sabiu Zakari and Rector, Maritime Academy of Nigeria MAN, Oron, Emmanuel  Effedua.

Nigeria was elected into the council for the first time in 2001, which she lost two years after and got re-elected again in 2009 and lost its re-election bid in 2011.