For two consecutive years, Nigeria has lost an opportunity to return to the Category C of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) after losing the body’s Council election held in London on Friday to Kenya by one vote.
The country polled 110 votes to come 21st, one short of the 111 polled by Kenya, which came 20th, which is the cut off point for Category C membership of the Council.
By implication, West Africa lost its chance to be among the decision-making members in the Council, as Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, and Kenya retained their seats in the 20-member Category C of the IMO.
Being in the Council brings opportunities and openings for nations to be involved in various decisions that impact on the maritime sector globally and the country in particular.
Gbemisola Saraki, the Minister of State for Transportation, who led the country’s delegation to IMO, said the campaign for the 2021 bid had begun.
Saraki said it was a matter of paramount national interest that “Nigeria gets a seat on the maritime table”.
She said the country would, as a first task, appraise the factors behind its narrow loss.
“We are going to go back to the countries that voted to ask them why they did not think we have done well or why they did not vote for us,” Saraki stated.
She insisted Nigeria had done remarkably well in reforming its maritime sector to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She pointed out the milestones it recorded on maritime safety and security, gender equality, and environmental responsibility.
Saraki was delighted by the determined effort of the Nigerian delegation to campaign for the Category C seat.
The Nigerian delegation also included Dakuku Peterside, director-general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), whose Agency was the lead anchor; Hadiza Bala Usman, managing director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), among others.
It is expected that Nigeria will have another chance for a shot at the Council in 2021, during the next biennial Session of the IMO Assembly.