The bid for Nigeria’s election into the Governing Council of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) could suffer setback as the country dumped the Maritime Organization for West and Central Africa (MOWCA) following its failed bid to secure the election of its candidate, Paul Adaliku as Secretary-General of the regional body.
Nigeria plans to seek election into Category C of the IMO in October/November this year. The council is the decision-making body of the United Nations specialized agency responsible for regulating the global maritime industry.
Recently, Nigeria pulled out of MOWCA in protest of the regional body’s decision to allow the candidates of Guinea and the Republic of Benin – both of whom it claimed were overage – to contest election for the position of Secretary-General against Adaliku.
Adaliku, who is a Director in the Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMOT), was Nigeria’s nominee for the Secretary-General position in the election held in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday last week.
Having lost the election, Nigeria’s delegation to the MOWCA 15th General Assembly, held in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Cong, alleged that there was disregard for the rules of procedure regarding the eligibility of candidates nominated for the position of the Secretary-General of the organization.
The country said it was pulling out after spending more than USD5million (about N2.5billion) on the regional body over the past 10 years.
The Director, Press and Public Relations at FMOT, Eric Ojiekwe, said in a statement issued in Abuja on Monday that Nigeria’s delegation to the MOWCA election “expressed sadness at the outcome of the meeting, given Nigeria’s ardent and consistent support for MOWCA and its activities over the years.”
“Nigeria as a nation must take a stand against the promotion of illegality, disrespect for the rule of law and contravention of the rules regarding the election of the Secretary-General of MOWCA.
“Nigeria draws the attention of the General Assembly to the comment of MOWCA as presented by MOWCA secretariat in the annotated agenda circulated this week to the Committee of Experts’ meeting.
“It confirmed that Nigeria is the only country that met the age eligibility criteria requirement that candidates must not exceed 55 years.
“The candidate nominated by Nigeria was 55 years as at when nominations closed in 2020, while the candidate of Guinea was 60 years old and that of Benin was 62 years old.
“By this, the Nigerian candidate and Director, Maritime Services, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr Paul Adaliku was the only eligible candidate and should have been declared unopposed,” the FMOT spokesman said.
Ojiekwe said Nigeria frowns at the “apparent willingness of some member states to consider for elections candidates, who knowingly contravened the age criteria by more than five years in the case of Guinea and seven years by Benin.”
The statement further pointed out that no member state has supported MOWCA as much as Nigeria, as the records show the country has contributed over $5million in the past 10 years “with the organization not employing a single Nigerian”.
“It should be noted that not a single citizen of Nigeria has ever been employed in MOWCA, and this is the first time that Nigeria has contested for the position of the Secretary-General of the organization even though it is an uncontested fact that it is essentially the contributions of Nigeria that has sustained the organization over the years,” he said.
However, Nigeria’s face-off with MOWCA, could impact negatively on its IMO council election bid as it risks losing the vital support of the 24 other members of the regional body. Even with the support of the region in the past, the country has consistently failed to win the IMO Council seat since 2011.
Nigeria contested and lost the council seat bid four consecutive times in 2011, 2013, 2017 and 2019.
The last two failed attempts were led by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and his protégé, the former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside.
Forty countries are typically elected by the IMO Assembly into the Governing Council every two years. Ten countries are elected into Category A, ten into Category B and twenty into Category C.
In the 2019 election, the countries elected into Category A, consisting of countries with the largest interest in providing international shipping services are China, Greece, Italy, Japan, Norway, Panama, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, and the United States.
Those elected into Category B, made of countries with the largest interest in international seaborne trade include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Arab Emirates.
Category C members are those that are not eligible for election into either Category A or B. They are countries that have special interests in maritime transport or navigation and whose election to the Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world. Those elected under the category include Bahamas, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand and Turkey.
It is not clear how Nigeria hopes to win the support of the MOWCA countries considering the row generated by its unceremonious exit from the regional body.
Source: Ships & Ports