Nigerian Maritime industry stakeholders were numb with shock Friday night, as news filtered in from London that the country has again lost another bid, for the Category ‘C’ Council Seat of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
While Success has joyous Fathers, mothers, happy uncles and cousins, failure is sadly an orphan.
Former President Yar’Adua and Dr. Ade Dosumu took us into the IMO’s Council Seat. Carelessness, piracy, loss of vision and overwhelming ineptitude took us out.
Once we tried it under President Jonathan Goodluck and Patrick Ziakede Akpobolokemi, we failed woefully, sadly beaten by Malta, over a single vote.
On Friday, November 29th, Nigeria again failed woefully, this time beaten by Kenya, again via a single vote!
Kenya got 111 votes while Nigeria got 110 votes.
An industry watcher, Tony Emeordi asked, “One vote. One vote. A beg, wetin Nigeria do one vote o?!”
To which another stakeholder, who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “It goes beyond one vote o!
“If you go to IMO, one of the things that Nigeria will stand to address before they go into this category C business, is in a document. I call it ‘Needs assessment for the establishment of Coastal State Responsibility’.
“It is the Coastal State Responsibility that determines whether you will go to that category ‘C’ or not; and we are lacking in that Coastal State Responsibility.
“The money we spend in all this fanfare can establish that Coastal State Responsibility without any issues and you will still have change in your pocket”, the stakeholder said.
Worried that we might not win the IMO election, we had turned to the nation’s foremost shipping mogul, Engr. Greg Utonwen Ogbeifun for assessment or in-depth evaluation.
Engr. Ogbeifun not only in superlative words presented Nigeria’s chances, he also gave the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) very clean bill of health, he also advised that Nigeria should temporarily ignore IMO, in the advent of any failure to concentrate on other issues.
We went to bed with both eyes closed, telling the Security Guards to only wake us up, when popping of Champaign begins, in celebration of IMO victory. Alas! When we woke, we only saw mumbling, frowning faces. The anticipated victory was nowhere!
The stakeholder who spoke on conditions of anonymity said Nigeria failed to respond to the cacophony of negative voices, lamenting inability to get timely responses, under emergency situations.
“Nigeria bought rader equipment to install on the Coast; till today the current administration left them in cartons, they did not install one!
“We have to install this equipments, that is number one.
“We have to be able to communicate with Ships within our Search and Rescue radiants which we signed for; and if you know the number of reports that are going to the IMO from Ship Captains, that they cannot talk to Nigerian authorities when they are in their waters, you won’t believe. And yet, you expect to go and get into Category ‘C’.
“What else is the purpose of NIMASA which is for safety reasons and the safety thing which you are responsible for was shipping, while passing through your area you cannot do anything to protect!
“We went for the CMDFF new Center there, so that we can communicate with Ships, because the CMDFF system stipulates all the periods for testing every communication equipments on the ship, some are to be tested weekly, some are to be tested three weekly with the Coastal Station you have filled in, NIMASA cannot do one; yet we were going for Category ‘C’!
But another industry watcher, Bolutife Egbewole said the seat eluded Nigeria, we failed to do stock taking!
“What the country is suppose to be doing is that once you go on this venture, especially those type of IMO category projects, on arrival we should set up an informed body to examine why we failed.
“There should be an enquiry on why we failed; a respected committee should be setup to check why did we fail!
“Perhaps, such a Committee would also assess all the statistics of ships attempting to communicate with Nigeria and which cannot communicate because the requirements to communicate were lacking, inadequate or poorly utilized”, he said, even as he broached over our next preparations, stressing that getting into a Category C should not be perceived as an impossible task.
A staff of the NIMASA in his contribution however blamed the way the agency was choosing its representatives to IMO, noting that sometime it hovers more on the gratuitous, rather than at ‘producing professionals.
“You are sending people to IMO to go and do IMO meeting, without bothering on what would be their contributions there; or what would they bring back to the agency!
“Sometimes the people we send there don’t even even know the language they are speaking, they are talking about matter on Safety on Ship. We send people to IMO to bless them.
“We fail to realize that the quality of the contributions of those we send also affect the nature of assessment they give the country.
“For instance, What has been the quality of our contributions at IMO sittings in the last two years? This is because one of the requirements to be in the category C is what are your contributions to the improvement of General Maritime Sector?
“So if you go and sit inside the IMO meeting and you are just listening and sitting like a toy waiting to be sold, they are watching you”, he said, stressing the need to groom professional people who would champion the agency cause at IMO.
But many people, including Engr. Ogbeifun strong believe our preparations this time, irrespective of the result, was a lot better.
Did we spend more than Saudi Arabia who got 106?
Welcome back Dakuku Peterside. We narrowly missed the mark. But, we are still better off today, than yesterday!