Despite Nigeria’s widely celebrated success in combating piracy in the entire Gulf of Guinea (GoG) region, the nation’s chances to get into the Category C of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Governing Council still remains slim at the elections, scheduled to hold on December 1st, 2023.
While accolades have poured from the IMO and several member states on account of the tranquility on the nation’s waters, experts have outlined other core aspects of shipping that requires revamping as the nation hopes to get a seat at the apex global maritime regulatory body.
Speaking with the News Diet during an exclusive chat in Lagos, Vice President of the Association of Marine Engineers and Surveyors (AMES), Engr. Emmanuel Ilori warned that Nigeria will be shocked if it expects to get position on the IMO Category C solely on account of anti-piracy accomplishments.
According to him, the IMO isn’t a single-issue organization and beyond piracy there are other issues of concern that Nigeria is yet to address which several IMO member states also rate highly.
His words: “Piracy is a global concern but it is really a local issue for Nigeria. How does the country engage on other issues of global maritime concern that would make the country to be seen as a global player? Some of these core issues include food security from the maritime sector. With a population of over 200 million and vast maritime domain, can the seas add value to food security nationally, regionally and globally? What could the nation do to ensure it plays a major role in ensuring food security from the maritime sector?”
“We talk about Safety Of Life At Sea (SOLAS), but there are other issues bordering on safety for seafarers that Nigeria isn’t part of. Over 3000 vessels visit Lagos ports yearly and these are international seafarers visiting Nigeria; what are their experiences? Most of these ships are flagged and manned by other nations who will have a say at the IMO.”
Ilori, who is also the Assistant Chaplain of the Mission To Seafarers (MTS) Lagos, observed that Nigeria needs to network with organisations that look into the welfare of seafarers because these seafarers give feedback to their countries.
“Nigeria needs to be engaging and collaborating on several global dimensions. So, by the time we go to campaign, we don’t just have a single issue and other nations who engage with Nigeria on other areas will see the country as a partner. This will also make the Nigeria’s participation at the IMO easier,” he stated.
Noting that carbon emissions have become a big concern globally, Ilori posited that as an oil production country, Nigeria isn’t just expected to be part of such deliberations; but should show the global shipping community its position on carbon emissions and its strategies to comply.
Speaking on the delays in the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF), he recalled that lack of technical support in the banking sector led to bad loans in shipping previously, urging the banks to do better this time.
According to Ilori, provision of cargo guarantees and the acquisition of vessels that meet the requirements by Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited will ensure the vessels acquired with CVFF are functional and able to repay their loans.
“With the CVFF, we should be buying quality vessels to be operated by competent seafarers and we must ensure that the vessels remain in class. If the vessels are properly maintained and properly managed, there will always be cargoes for the vessels. If we can achieve this, the rest will be easy.”
“Nevertheless, we have learnt that the monies have been moved to the banks and nothing stops them from trading with it amid the delays and what happens if eventually the monies aren’t disbursed. These are just some concerns worth pondering,” Ilori queried.