Nigeria has started early in preparations for the 2019 election into Category C of the International Maritime Organisation Council, even as the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside has assured stakeholders that Nigeria will win the IMO Council seat come 2019.
Speaking while addressing newsmen on the sideline of the G7++ group summit held in Lagos on Monday, the NIMASA DG highlighted some of the factors responsible for the Nigeria’s loss at the last IMO council election held recently in London.
According to him, some of the factors included: late preparations, poor economic situation of the country, and misrepresentation of piracy attacks in the gulf of guinea.
Addressing the issue of maritime domain security, the DG gave assurances that NIMASA was working with stakeholders and the global maritime community to ensure that the menace of piracy is totally stamped out in the Gulf of Guinea, in order to allow for free flow of trade in the region.
In his words, “the decision by the Italian Government to hold the meeting in Lagos Nigeria, which is the first time outside Europe, showed that they believed in the country’s efforts to fight piracy and other criminal activities in Nigeria and in the Gulf of Guinea.
“Since Nigeria has been given the leadership role to curtail criminal activities in the region, the Agency has continued to collaborate with the relevant authorities, both locally and internationally to put an end to the issues surrounding piracy in the region,” he said.
Speaking further, Dr. Peterside noted that NIMASA has also gone a step further to tackle piracy from four broad approaches namely; Legal framework through an anti-piracy bill, which will soon be passed to law, thereby making Nigeria the first country in the whole of Africa to formulate such policy.
Others are; acquisition of military hardware, through partnership with an Israeli firm, which will enhance our response capabilities to criminal activities, enhancing our intelligence gathering system and regional integration and collaboration through working with other African countries.
In his words, “No piracy begins and ends in one jurisdiction; when there is a hot pursuit, they shift to another region, and on our part, we are determined to give them a hot chase through our partnership and other collaboration with other countries in the region.”
The NIMASA DG also used the opportunity to clear the air on the just-concluded International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Council election and noted that the international community still reckons with Nigeria’s efforts in terms of its performance.
He stated that “Nigeria is the first country in Africa that subjected itself to IMO audit, which rated Nigeria high in terms of security on its waterways in line with the International Ships and Ports Security (ISPS) facility code; with Nigeria having complied by over 80 per cent.
“Nigeria has done very well in the area of ratification of IMO conventions, which he said was evident in the day-to-day running of the maritime sector in Nigeria.
Further explaining reasons for Nigeria’s loss at the IMO election as resulting from a fairly late campaign, Peterside said Nigeria only came back into the international reckoning with a new government, so NIMASA could not reach out early enough to its counterparts in other countries for support, some of whom he said had made up their minds.
He also said that “contrary to insinuations in the media, Nigeria however did not spend as much money as is being peddled. Nigeria spent far less than N100 million for the IMO Council election.”
The DG called on the media to continue to partner with the Agency in beaming its activities in good light as Nigeria looks forth to return to the IMO Category C, in the next election in 2019.
Earlier, the Honourable Minister of Defence, Brigadier General Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd), commended the collaboration between NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy and stated that it has also helped to curb criminal activities in the region.
Accordingly, he stated that the combined technological efforts of NIMASA, the Navy and other relevant Agencies has also helped to deter criminals from carrying out their nefarious activities on the nations water ways and by extension the Gulf Guinea.
The G7++ Friends of Gulf of Guinea Group is headed by the Italian government and it is poised to ensure sustainable interest in the promotion of peace, security and development in the Gulf of Guinea.