Otunba Kunle Folarin

Maritime stakeholders in the country have thrown their weight behind the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA over the hosting of the third Association of African Maritime Administrations AAMA Conference currently going on in Abuja.

The conference with the theme: ‘Sustainable Use of Africa’s Oceans and Seas’, which holds from April 19 to 21, 2017 in conjunction with the International Maritime Organisation IMO, draws participants across the global maritime industry.

Chairman of the Ports Consultative Council PCC, Otunba Kunle Folarin, one of the stakeholders, who reacted to the hosting of the conference in Nigeria, which seeks to draw a roadmap for the future sustainable work plan of the association, described it as a welcome development.

According to him, it is significant that Nigeria is hosting the conference at this time, having failed to take up the hosting right in 2013, which was not good enough for the image of the country as a maritime nation.

“Hosting the conference now is significant and commendable because it shows that Nigeria is once again taking her pride of place among comity of maritime nations and so this is a right step in the right direction”, he said.

Folarin, who doubles as chairman of Nigeria’s Seafarers Board, also argued that Nigeria cannot afford to remain at the periphery of maritime activities not only on the African continent but also across the globe, arguing that the hosting of the conference would provide a springboard the country needs to re-launch her into relevance among maritime nations of the world.

On Nigeria’s bid to seek re-election into the category ‘C’ of the Council of the IMO, the PCC-boss noted that the conference provides an ample opportunity for the country to seek the support and cooperation of other African nations to facilitate Nigeria’s re-election, arguing that the same African maritime leaders, who will participate in the conference are the same people that would vote at the IMO election.

Recall that President Mummadu Buhari has already approved Nigeria’s re-election bid into the IMO Council has and also accepted to declare the event open, even as he would hold talks with select African maritime leaders on the sideline of the three-day conference.

Apart from the Secretary General of the IMO, Mr. Kitack Lim, who would be the guest of honour at the event, participants would be drawn from the European Maritime Association as well as attracting participants from over 32 African countries.

Notable among them is the Chief Executive Officer of South African Maritime and Safety Agency SAMSA, Sobaitu Tilayi, who is also the interim chairman of AAMA as well as representatives from Malaysian Maritime Authority.

Others include the Chief Executive Officer of Maersk Group worldwide, Mr. Soren Skou and the Chief Executive Officer/Commissioner of Liberia Maritime Authority, Dr. James Kodlie, among several others.

AAMA, which was established pursuant to article five of the African Maritime Transport Charter AMTC, is the coordinating body for Maritime Administrations in Africa, and consists of five African stakeholders’ group namely: the Association of African Maritime Administrations AAMA, Africa Ship Registrars’ Forum, African Ship Owners’ Associations, Africa Shippers’ Council and all Cargo Interest and Seafarers’ Forum.

The formation of the association was also part of measures to reverse the challenge of Africa’s insignificant share of global investments in the maritime industry irrespective of her huge contributions to global maritime traffic.

It is also in line with the continent’s renewed zeal and aspiration for a strategic take-off as noted in the African Maritime Transport Charter, which made it necessary to facilitate a forum to bring together like minded agencies and associations to discuss Africa’s maritime governance among other related issues and challenges.

The union had also on October 15 2016 at an extraordinary session of the Assembly of African Heads of State and Government held in Lomé, Togo, adopted a Charter on Maritime Security, Safety and Developments in the continent.

Thus, the hosting of this event, which will for three days relocate the African maritime industry to Abuja means a lot to Nigeria, especially at a time the current management is making frantic efforts at repositioning the industry for efficient service delivery and increased revenue in line with Federal Government’s economic diversification programme, given the dwindling fortunes of the petroleum industry.