Nigeria seeks Cameroon, Angola’s support to make Adalikwu MOWCA Secretary General
Like the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Nigeria is seeking the support of other countries to cling to the leadership of the Maritime Organisation for West and Central Africa (MOWCA).
This is the first time the country is showing interest in the headship of the multilateral maritime organisation that cuts across 20 coastal and five landlocked countries in West and Central Africa.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has intensified efforts through interactions and diplomatic outreach to Anglophone and Francophone countries to actualise the emergence of Dr Paul Adalikwu as Nigeria’s candidate for Secretary-General of MOWCA.
The Minister of State for Transport, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, last week, led a delegation of senior government officials with the candidate to Cameroun and Angola to solicit support for the country’s candidate.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved Adalikwu’s candidacy after the vacancy of the 46-year-old organisation was announced last year.
However, sources disclosed that some Anglophone and Francophone MOWCA member countries have started expressing support for the Nigerian candidate in their collective desires to see an improved MOWCA that would be beneficial to member states.
Adalikwu, who is a Director in charge of Maritime Safety and Security at the Federal Ministry of Transport, is playing key roles in the movement for the establishment of the Regional Maritime Development Bank (RMDB).
The bank, a MOWCA initiative, would be sited in Nigeria to bridge funding gaps in the maritime and allied sectors in all member countries. This is expected to address critical areas of vessel financing, maritime infrastructural upgrades, capacity building, and capital-intensive procurements.
His endorsement by the Nigerian government attests to the country’s desire for a more proactive and productive multilateral maritime organisation covering 25 member countries.
Adalikwu is interested in a deliberate and sustained effort towards effective communication among member countries on how best to preserve their marine environments from pollution, harness copious benefits of the maritime sector and maximise the potential for productive shipping while jointly fighting maritime crimes.
He is coming to champion the cause of safe navigation in line with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) 1974 SOLAS (Safety of Lives at Sea) Convention, among member countries.
Nigeria’s commitment to the ideals of the IMO would be expected to positively influence the running of MOWCA in line with global best practices.
Whereas, ‘Seafarers: At the Core of Shipping Future’ is the 2021 theme of the International Maritime Organisation, and the improved MOWCA would sensitise member states on the need to key into the global yearly maritime theme not just in mantra but on implementation, year in, year out.
Adalikwu plans to activate the real-time online presence of MOWCA using its website to strengthen the region’s long-standing maritime culture and working to reap the benefits derivable from the maritime domain, human capital, and available technology.
While making the MOWCA website more interactive and highly informative with regular updates, he hopes to run a MOWCA with strong, viable, and rich social media following for member states, investors, and professionals’ benefits.
Adalikwu, who has keenly monitored and kept himself abreast with the Center for Information and Communication (CINFOCOM) set up by the outgoing Secretary-General and domiciled in the MOWCA Secretariat, hopes to make it really active and overhaul its mono-lingual structure from only French Language to the three working languages of MOWCA – English, French and Portuguese.
An improved CINFOCOM operated from Abidjan would not have to rely on Google translations anymore because of the observed inaccuracies of the mode as the organisation is expected to interact with 25 countries in the immediate and a global maritime audience.
Language experts to be engaged in MOWCA Secretariat on a full-time basis will process translated information.
Member countries will now have reasons to refer to the MOWCA website as a daily source of credible maritime information, giving quarterly, half-yearly, and yearly analysis of cargo throughput, maritime security updates, marine environment/ pollution issues, and proffering solutions using diplomatic channels of communication with member states to achieve implementation of recommendations.
On maritime manpower development, there are plans to make the organisation influence the standard of Certificate of Competency (CoC) issued by MOWCA member states.
The Nigerian candidate hopes to ensure MOWCA establishes a direct interface with recognized maritime training institutions to broaden chances of employment for maritime professionals from member states and aim at making the sub-region an exporter of competent and reliable maritime human resources.
Adalikwu hopes to achieve an unprecedented peer review agenda that would midwife exchange programmes between approved and recognised maritime training institutions, cutting across the Anglophone, Francophone, and Portuguese speaking maritime scholars.
The MOWCA platform will be used to strengthen the collaboration of maritime administrations in both regions towards a common anti-piracy goal.
West and Central Africa through MOWCA shall seek the international support and occasional presence of advanced navies in collaboration with naval forces of member states like the Obangame Express to make their waters safer.
Exercises like Obangame Express, conducted by United States Naval Forces in Africa, which was designed to improve cooperation among participating nations in order to increase maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea, will be suggested and encouraged on a larger scale without compromising territorial integrity of countries involved.
Previous versions of Obangame Express had sought to assess and improve Gulf of Guinea law enforcement capacity, promote national and regional security, inform African Maritime law enforcement partnership planning and operations, and shape security force assistance efforts.
MOWCA, under Adalikwu, will establish a relationship with private sector-based bodies like Gulf of Guinea Maritime Institute in Ghana, which is a private sector ‘think-tank’ for maritime strategic thinkers, practitioners, and allies to interact, share ideas, and research into strategic maritime affairs affecting the GoG Region.
He has plans to strategically interface with Angola-based Gulf of Guinea Commission in Luanda in the fight against illegal fishing and other unlawful activities in the Gulf of Guinea.
The election into MOWCA top office is expected to be preceded by a Council of Transport Ministers meeting later in the year in Accra, Ghana.