AAMA: 32 African Countries, IMO, Others Storm Abuja April 20

President Muhammadu Buhari
  • As EU, FG Brainstorm On How To Deport More Nigerians

Thirty two African countries, as well as revered Maritime nations outside Africa and bodies, including the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) are billed to storm Abuja on 20 April, 2017,  as the Association of African Maritime Administration (AAMA) parley with President Muhammadu Buhari, in furtherance of Government’s dream, towards optimizing the economic potentials of the continent’s oceans.

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Head of Corporate Communications, Isichei Osamgbi confirmed this on Sunday, highlighting that major shipping lines operators would also, actively participate, at the Abuja AAMA Conference.

“Interest is growing in the maritime industry and there is need to evolve a stronger economy by boosting non-oil revenue as a major source of the President Buhari’s economic policy thrust.

“Hence, the Federal Government’s huge interest in encouraging greater cooperation among African nations to enable them make the best use of the opportunity,’’ indicated Osamgbi noting that President Buhari had earlier approved the participation of Nigeria through NIMASA in the IMO Council election coming up later in the year.

Pointing out that the conference call which is being organized by NIMASA and the IMO as part of AAMA’s collaborative meeting, Osamgbi described the body as an umbrella body of five African maritime stakeholders’ groups; comprising of the Association of Maritime Administrations of Africa, Africa’s Ship Registry Forum, African Ship Owners Association, Africa Shippers’ Council and Seafarers’ Forum; formed in 2012 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, sequel to the signing of the African Transport and Maritime Charter

Isichei Osamgbi

Isichei Osamgbi who said the country was renewing it’s bid for the Category of the IMO Council Seat said it should therefore be expected that Nigeria would seize the opportunity of the conference to promote the development of Africa’s maritime regulatory and maritime environment, to also  hold strategic sessions to garner adequate support for Nigeria’s bid.

“The Council is the highest decision making body of the IMO.

“Nigeria’s participation in the Council of the IMO will further add value to the economy through participation in critical decision-making sessions on global maritime affairs.

“Sitting on the Council will further reinforce Nigeria’s leading role in the maritime industry in Africa,’’ Osamgbi explained further, adding that President Buhari’s presence would no doubt, effectively influence certain policy directions in tandem with his administration’s vision for the maritime industry; in addition to unveiling the new NIMASA brand at the event.

The Secretary-General of IMO, Mr Kitack Lim; the Chief Executive Officer of South African Maritime and Safety Agency (SAMSA), Sobaitu Tilayi, and representatives of Malaysian Maritime Authority and European Maritime Association will be at the conference.

Nigeria not only presently controls the highest cargo throughout in the West and Central Africa region with over 200 million tonnes of cargo being handled annually, the country also, is annually visited by not fewer than 6,000 ocean-going vessels in its ports.

In the meantime, more Nigerians currently living illegally in Europe may soon be home bound, as the European Union (EU) engages the Federal Government in talks to facilitate the repatriation of Nigerians living illegally in EU countries.

More than 250 Nigerians have already been deported this year, from different European countries since January, with 50 recently repatriated Thursday, from eight European countries for immigration-related offences.

Confirming this in Abuja on Sunday during the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, the EU had also offered to provide vocational training for those who had been repatriated.

“The EU for instance, for now, is trying to have a collective agreement with Nigeria covering all the EU countries so that there can just be a one-stop-shop and everybody can repatriate Nigerians.

“We are looking to see whether it will not be fairer to just have separate bilateral agreements rather than one omnibus agreement with the EU.

“In fact, the EU wants to engage with us in helping to provide vocational training programmes for Nigerians who have been repatriated so that they do not come back, have nothing to do, have no skills and have no choice but try and go back again.

“So they are also keen to cooperate with us to provide skills development for them”, indicated the Minister,  stressing that the issues of migration had become a priority for most EU countries.

He however assured that the legal rights of Nigerians whether regular or irregular migrants, would be fully respected, dismissing claims that some Nigerians were deported from some countries without the knowledge of the Nigerian Government.

“The ones from Libya wanted to come home because the conditions in which they were staying were deplorable so it was a question of facilitating their return home.

“Of course, you know that Libya is almost a failed state at the moment so it is not advisable for any Nigerian to be in that country at the moment.

“With regard to the UK, we had an agreement bilaterally; they cannot deport without our cooperation because to deport or repatriate somebody, they have to have a travel certificate and the certificate is provided by the Nigerian Government.

“So, you have to first identify and be sure, we insist, that the person is Nigerian and we insist also that the person has exhausted all their rights.

“At the moment, these things stand; it is not possible for the UK to unilaterally repatriate without our cooperation,” he observed, adding that most fled the country as a result of harsh economic realities on ground.

“The prime responsibility rests with us; we, as a government, have to provide for our citizens and that is what Mr President is trying to do in the restructuring of the economy”, the Minister concluded.