The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh has assured that the new management under his watch will work assiduously towards Nigeria’s return to the White List and Category C of the Council Seat of the International Maritime Organisation IMO before the expiration of its tenure in the next four years.

Recall that the country had in the last few years made futile efforts at returning to the Category C of the Council as well as retaining the white list due to issues ranging from insecurity, low tonnage to other regulatory deficiencies in her maritime domain. The next election is scheduled to hold sometime in November next year.

The DG, who spoke in Lagos, observed that there are processes that would guarantee a member -state of IMO to be enlisted on the while list of countries or being elected into any of the categories of the council seats, Category C in the case of Nigeria.

It was gathered that the level of security in a country’s maritime domain plays a key role, tonnage of the country is another factor while the efficiency of the country’s ship register as well as ability to domesticate international conventions and protocols and enforcing them are key elements that determine the electability of a country to any of the council seats; be it A, B or C as the case may be.

According to the DG, the current management was putting in place necessary measures that would address some of the issues that have forestalled the country’s desire to be reelected into the council seat and also return to the white List ranking.

“We will not sleep until Nigeria returns to the White List and Category C of the Council seat of the IMO before the end of our four-year tenure. We are putting measures in place that would address all forms of inadequacies that have made it difficult to return to the council seat.

“The greatest obstacle towards being re-elected to the council seat has been the worsening insecurity in the nation’s maritime domain. You know within a short time, the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, also called the Deep Blue Project will be fully operational, as most of the assets have arrived the country and would therefore help stem maritime crimes such as piracy, sea robbery, and kidnaping and oil theft, among many others.

“You also know that in addition to the synergy that now exists between NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy, the enactment of the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences SPOMO Act 2019 would also boost maritime security. Since 2006, Nigeria has not been able to arrest any pirate but in the last two months, a total of 27 pirates have been arrested and are current being prosecuted”, he said.

It would be recalled that the United Nations through the IMO had commended the new management of the agency over the improved security on Nigeria’s waters, which led to the arrest of the 27 pirate suspects, describing it as a ‘great feat’.

Nigeria had November last year narrowly lost in its bid to get re-elected into the council to Kenya by 110-111 votes even while other African countries like Egypt, Morocco and South Africa retained their seats on the 20-member Category C of the Council of the IMO.

Expert believe that though there were the interplay of international politics and a combination of other factors during the buildup to the election, the decision of the Nigerian government to shut its borders against its West African neighbours in order to check smuggling may have also played a prominent role in the country’s narrow loss to Kenya.

Records show that the last time the country got elected into the Council was in 2009, nine years after it was elected for the first time in 2000.