Dr Alex Okwuashi (Registrar, Chattered Institute of Shipping)
The question is must- we be there? If we are there what would we be doing? What is important is that as a member of IMO, play your role and fulfill your obligations as a member. We say Nigeria is a member of IMO but we don’t play the politics in maritime that we are supposed to play to be in that position, it is just a glorified position that Nigeria is a member, it doesn’t add anything to our maritime sector, there is no big deal if we are in category ‘C’ or not, what matters is if they call for all member states, we recommend people to go there, but if we continue to look for executive positions that we cannot use to bring anything to our country, then it is useless. When Koffi Anan was the Secretary General of United Nations, he used his position to make the Regional Maritime Academy in Ghana a University, but the highest we have gotten in Nigeria is Regional Maritime Rescue Centre. So there is nothing about being a member of IMO if you cannot use the position to improve your sector.
Capt. Adewale Ishola (Master Mariner)
There are decision-making bodies of the IMO, if you are not there as part of the decision-makers, you cannot make any impact, you just have to accept whatever decision is made for you, you cannot make any meaningful contribution if you are not in any of the categories. Membership of the category is vital because you would be able to discuss regional issues when you are there. In the whole of West Africa, it is only Liberia that is there and they would only talk about what concerns them and their country, they don’t know our own problems in Nigeria. Our bane in Nigeria has always been putting square pegs in round holes, if you look back at when Late Chief Ojo Maduekwe was Minister of Transportation, he went along with professionals and consultant to get Nigeria on the While List, he did not just did that, he also succeeded putting us on Category C, you are not going there to meet novice, you must present the right calibre of people, if we are not doing the right thing, they are looking at us.
Engr Greg Ogbeifun (President, Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN)
Not only did we fail to be re-elected, we were actually second to the last, you would agree with me that for a great nation like us, it would be unfair to just pretend that nothing has happened. What happened at the IMO underscores the importance and urgency of giving a critical lifeline to the Nigerian maritime industry, our maritime sector is sinking already and if we don’t give it a critical lifeline it would sink permanently. Our performance at IMO has dealt a hard blow on our psyche as a maritime nation, the world has told us that our maritime domain is sick and moribund, that we are not a maritime nation that could be relied on for maritime trade, maritime security or for seafarers or other maritime professionals. We have ignorantly believed that we would win elections into the IMO council by political lobbying and flaunting our political influence by reason of our vast natural resources which we have failed to develop.
Lucky Amiwero (Council of Managing Directors)
Well if we have won, there are lots of benefits attached to it. One of them is that you become part of the people that will look at the processes and procedures. There are certain aspects of contracting benefit they are when you can benefit. But when you are not part of the kitchen cabinet, you cannot actually push some of your demands too; it will be very difficult.NIMASA administration under Dr. Dakuku Peterside is not getting it right, he is just learning. When you look at the NIMASA’s core function, it has not been applied, it is not seminar. The core function is to build capacity and drag the process of trying to enhance participation in international shipping; that is the core function of NIMASA when you look at the act. But what we are having is from one seminar to the other and that is not the core function. They are not revenue collecting agency, they are to provide for indigenous operators so that they can participate in international shipping.
Dr Eugene Nweke (Freight Forwarder)
Nigerian lost the election because the Minister of Transportation is very economical with funds. They don’t want a situation where unnecessary fund will be spent, if it was before when Nigeria spent money any how we will not lose that election. But the present administration believes in prudence and it was because they didn’t spend the money that was why Nigeria didn’t win.
Talking about if we are supposed to be there, we cannot proudly call ourselves a maritime nation if we are not seen in maritime organisation. We should be playing major role in maritime organizations not just being a member. So I think they should reconcile and see that Nigeria and other African nations are being represented.
Engineer Matthew Alalade (Merchant Navy)
I think Nigeria lost because the issue of piracy and kidnapping in the Nigerian waterways is getting severe in the past few months, so how do you want to be in the IMO Council as a maritime nation when you don’t have a conducive environment. Where are the roads, no access to the ports and you want to answer a maritime nation? And to crown it all, the government is bribing; why can’t you do the right thing. There are no ships for you to sail and you want to have a say in IMO.
Rev Jonathan Nicol (Shippers Association)
We are not supposed to have gone for the election in the first place, because ordinary driving roads you don’t have and you are going for IMO election. So what do you want to do there? In fact, Nigeria should know what they want. They should not have gone there because they know more about us than we know about ourselves. We are talking about maritime; an international environment and what makes up an international environment you don’t have it. You don’t have roads, so should you have to go there in the first place.