Hope rises for Nigeria’s return to IMO council
Nigeria may soon regain its membership in the council of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), as the country’s Alternate Permanent Representative (APR) in the IMO, Diko Balla, recently disclosed of efforts being made by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety (NIMASA) to return to the fold.
Nigeria was a former member of the global maritime council before it lost the seat in 2011, and plans to resume its membership before this year runs out.
Speaking at the Nigerian IMO office in London, Balla noted that steps taken by the present NIMASA management have led to a great improvement in the country’s relationship with the IMO as a body, and other maritime administrations who are members of the organisation.
He noted that Nigeria was amongst the first 10 countries from the over 170-member IMO nations to submit itself for IMO MemberStates Audit Scheme, (IMSAS).
Balla added that the IMO Secretary General, Kitack Lim, was pleased when Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, informed him that IMSAS findings and observations on Nigeria was being studied with a view to preparing and implementing Corrective Action Plans (CAPs) within the stipulated time frame.
He further noted that IMO considers the issue of piracy as top priority, and that the maritime community, particularly the IMO, is pleased with Nigeria for taking the fight against piracy and robbery at sea to new levels with the Anti-Piracy Bill being pushed in the National Assembly.
His words: “The achievements of NIMASA in the past one year are an indication that the nation’s maritime sector is heading in the right direction. And the fact that the IMO is collaborating with Nigeria much more in the area of trainings and technical support shows that the international body is satisfied with NIMASA operations in recent times. By November this year, I can assure you that Nigeria’s election into the Category C at IMO will be an overwhelming one.”
Commenting on the implementation of the International Ships and Ports facility Security (ISPS) Code, Bala noted that the fact that Nigeria is now in the category of countries considered as most successful in its implementation is a welcome development to both the IMO and other stakeholders in the maritime sector.
“You will recall that when we lost our seat in Council in 2011, our implementation status was less than 13 per cent. Today, we have over 85 per cent compliance level, so you can see that the international community is watching and appreciating our efforts,” he said.
Speaking further, the Nigerian representative said that the IMO is prepared to support maritime administrations in Africa in combating security challenges, and in building human capacity equipped to implement, monitor and enforce international instruments.
Commenting on the recent conference of Association of African Maritime Administration (AAMA), which was hosted by Nigeria, Bala noted that the IMO restated its commitment to support, when possible, regular meetings of heads of maritime administrations in Africa, at frequencies to be determined by the continental body.