…As Amaechi, Onyema woo foreign diplomats***
The campaign for the nation’s re-election bid into the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) Council ‘C’ Category was on Sunday flagged off, with a vigorous appeal from two Federal Government ministers: Rotimi Amaechi and Geofrey Onyema.
Specifically, the Minister of Transportation. Rotimi Amaechi and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geofrey Onyema called on all the Heads of Foreign Missions in Nigeria to support the country’s quest, in so far as the IMO Council seat, an arm of the United Nation (UN) responsible for global maritime regulation is concerned.
Speaking at a Cocktail Dinner in honour of Foreign Missions, organized by the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja, Mr. Onyema noted that as a key player in the global maritime industry, Nigeria has played active leadership roles in ensuring the development of the sector not only within the country but also in the entire West and Central African sub region.
Mr. Onyema assured the global maritime community on Nigeria’s readiness to ensure optimum performance through curbing piracy, preventing marine pollution, reinvigoration of its ports and capacity building.
“I wish to inform you that we have enacted proactive policies that conform to global best practices in the maritime sector. More specifically through the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), we have domesticated a number of IMO maritime safety conventions with a view to ensuring maritime safety and security not only in our domain but in the entire West and Central African Sub region” he said.
In the same vein the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi highlighted that Nigeria had taken a lead role in African maritime sector, adding that the Regional Search and Rescue Coordination Centre (RMRCC) in Lagos, coordinates Search and Rescue (SAR) activities in Nigeria and African sub region which comprises of, Togo, Benin Republic, Cameroun, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Equitorial Guinea as well as Soa Tome and Principe.
He added that the Federal Government has approved the establishment of an Integrated National Surveillance and Waterways Infrastructure Protection which will ensure security in the Nigerian maritime domain.
To corroborate the Ministers’ stance, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside said that Nigeria occupies a special position in the African Maritime sector based on the length of its coastline and the attendant volume of trade.
According to Dr. Dakuku Peterside “Nigeria has a coastline of over 850km, and 65% of the cargoes heading to Africa would end up in Nigeria. We are the first country in Africa to enact a Coastal and Inland Trade Law (Cabotage Law) and we are likely going to be the first to enact and anti-piracy bill and so we are committed to taking shipping to the next level”, he said.
The Indonesian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Harry Purwento and his counterpart from Syria, Mohammed Abo Serriah, commended Nigeria’s achievements in recent times and pledged support towards the election in to the council seat. They said aside supporting Nigeria’s bid they would also canvass for votes for the country after seeing the strides being made by Nigeria in the entire African Maritime Sector.
Nigeria, through NIMASA is seeking re-election into the Category C of the IMO council which is coming up later this year. Nigeria lost the seat in 2011 however unprecedented improvements have been made in the past 2 years which puts Nigeria in a stead to clinch the seat of one of the highest decision making body of the IMO Council.