Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, has said that the agency spent far less than N100million on its unsuccessful bid to get the country re-elected into the Category C of the Council of the International Maritime Organisation IMO, contrary to speculations that Nigeria spent over N300million on the botched attempt.

Recall that the IMO had penultimate Friday concluded election into the category C of its Council comprising members mainly from developing countries in which the Bahamas Island, Belgium, Chile, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Liberia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, Philippines and Singapore were re-elected.

Director General of the agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, who spoke to select maritime journalists in Lagos Monday at the sideline of the Friends of the Gulf of Guinea also called the G7 Conference, disclosed that there is no iota of truth in the speculations that Nigeria spent a whopping N300 million on the venture, insisting that the country had the least delegation with only three representatives from NIMASA.

He however blamed the failure of the country to get re-elected into the coveted council to the late commencement in the preparations for the election, saying that there were series of approvals that needed to be obtained, which did not come as early as expected.

According to him, another reason for the loss was the negative global perception on the issue of piracy and other criminal activities in the Gulf of Guinea, arguing that most members of the international maritime community did not know the level of efforts being made by the Nigerian government to rid the region of piracy and other criminalities in the region.

“There was this negative global perception of the issue of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. Most of them did not know the level of efforts being made by the Federal Government to fight the scourge of piracy, sea robbery, oil theft, kidnapping and other forms of criminalities in the Gulf of Guinea and by the time we sat them down to brief them, it was already late because they had already gotten instructions from their home governments on where and how to vote”, the DG said.

It was also gathered that the paucity of funds also contributed significantly to the failed bid to be re-elected into the council after several attempts, since the agency did not want to spend the kind of money that could enable it reach out to the various voting countries since the country was still battling with the effects of recession that engulfed the economy in the last two years.

The DG said: “Most of the countries sponsored conferences at the IMO headquarters in London; we did not want to do that because of the cost associated with it, given the economic conditions back home. Same was the reason we could not embark on visit to the home countries of the voters because we did not want to commit such huge funds into the venture considering the current economic predicaments in the country. Also most of those countries were merely re-elected having been on the council already and so did not need intensive and expensive campaigns”.

He however assured that the country has learnt all the lessons she needed to learn from this, insisting that the agency has already started preparations for the next election, which comes in the next four years, insisting that NIMASA would start early so as not to repeat the mistakes of this current year.

Categories A and B and the total number of countries voted for to represent the international maritime community in the three categories were 40.

The Council, which is the executive organ of IMO, is made up of 40 members across the Categories A, B, and C. It is answerable to the General Assembly in terms of supervising policy processes of the organisation.