From Left: Nigeria’s Alternate Permanent Representative to the IMO, Mr. Diko Bala, Secretary-General of the IMO, Mr. Kitack Lim, Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi and Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside during the recent visit to Nigeria’s office at the IMO.

Less than six months to the election into the council of the International Maritime Organisation IMO, Nigeria’s Alternate Permanent Representative APR, at the IMO, Alhaji Diko Balla has said that the country’s chances of returning to the council have become bright.

Nigeria is currently seeking re-election into the category C of the council seat of the council, which has been a major agenda of the current management of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA.

The Alternate Representative, who at the Nigerian IMO office in London, disclosed that the country’s chances of returning to the Council Seat of the world’s maritime regulatory body have greatly improved with the recent efforts of the management of NIMASA led by the Director General, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, which focused at bringing Nigeria back to leadership position in the organisation.

According to him, the steps taken by the present NIMASA management, have led to a great improvement in Nigeria’s relationship with the IMO as a body and other Maritime Administrations who are members of the international body.

The move, he further said was in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s drive towards integrating Nigeria back into global affairs and make her relevant among comity of nations.

“Nigeria was among the first ten countries from the over 170 member nations of the IMO to submit itself for the IMO Member States Audit Scheme, IMSAS, this is seen as a show of direction of the current administration of maritime in Nigeria by the IMO”, he said.

It was however gathered that the IMO Secretary General Mr Kitack Lim was pleased when the Minister of Transport Mr. Rotimi Amaechi informed him that the findings and observations of the IMO Member States Audit Scheme of Nigeria was being studied with a view to preparing and implementing Corrective Action Plans CAPs within the stipulated time limit.

The APR also  noted that IMO considers the issue of piracy as top priority and that the maritime community, particularly the IMO is pleased with Nigeria for taking the fight against Piracy and robbery at sea to new levels with the Anti-Piracy Bill push parliament.

He said: “The achievements of the Dr. Dakuku Peterside led management at NIMASA in the past one year is an indication that the nation’s maritime sector is heading in the right direction.  And the fact that the IMO is collaborating with Nigeria much more in the area of trainings and technical support shows that the international body is satisfied with NIMASA operations in recent times. By November this year, I can assure you that Nigeria’s election into the Category “C” at IMO will be an overwhelming one.”

Commenting on the implementation of the International Ships and Ports facility Security ISPS Code, Mr. Bala noted that the fact that Nigeria is now in the category of countries considered as most successful in its implementation is a welcome development to both the IMO and other stakeholders in the maritime sector.

” You will recall that when we lost our seat in Council in 2011, our implementation status was less than 13%. Today we have over 85% compliance level, so you can see that the international community is watching and appreciating our efforts” he said.

Speaking further, the Nigerian APR said that the IMO is prepared to support Maritime Administrations in Africa in combating security challenges, and in building human capacity equipped to implement, monitor and enforce international instruments.

While reacting to the recent conference of Association of African Maritime Administration AAMA, hosted by Nigeria, Mr Bala noted that the IMO has restated her commitment to support, when possible, regular meetings of Heads of Maritime Administrations in Africa, at frequencies to be determined by the continental body.

Bala noted that the IMO is satisfied with the decision of the continental body to encourage regional cooperation and coordination among member nations to enhance information sharing and regulatory governance among members which according to the IMO has the potentials to assist in combating the menace of piracy and other maritime crimes while maintaining a balance between security and the facilitation of global trade.

Recall that all member nations of the AAMA had at the third edition of the conference held in Abuja recently, resolved to address the challenges of building human capacities in the maritime industry through developing an integrated human resources strategy to support the provision of skills taking into account gender balance in the entire maritime value chain which includes shipping and logistics, offshore activities, fishing, tourism and recreation, as well as safety and security.

A high point of the three-day event was the election of Peterside as the new chairman of AAMA.