Secretary General of Abuja MoU, Mrs. Mfon Ekong Usoro
Nigeria has called on member states of Abuja Memorandum of Understanding (Abuja MoU) to show greater co-operation and commitment in the discharge of their statutory roles and responsibilities so that the purpose of signing the agreement would be achieved for the benefits of their citizenry.
Abuja MoU came into existence in October 1999, when no fewer than 19 countries in the Sub-Region signed a MoU on Port State Control (PSC) for West and Central Africa in Abuja. It is one of the 9 regional MoUs in the world.
Nigeria made the call in a keynote address presented by the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, at a workshop organised by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and Abuja MoU for heads of maritime administrations in the West and Central Africa Sub-regions in the Akwa Ibom State capital, Uyo.
The minister noted that member state of the Abuja MoU did not only shared a common interest but also a common purpose since they all shared a common coastline and need to work together to attain its set goals and objectives.
His words: “We are all blessed with the Atlantic coastline. With this blessing comes responsibility. The responsibility to protect our marine environment from pollution, the responsibility to ensure that our seas are not endangered by sub-standard ships, the responsibility of promoting improved living and working conditions of shipboard officers and crew.
“That in a nutshell captures the essence of port state control and the obligation we are committed to under the memorandum. Your presence at this workshop demonstrates the willingness of each member state to fulfil its obligations and live up top expectations as responsible coastal states. The need to achieve the aforesaid objectives calls for greater co-operation among member states in the area of port state control.
“The purpose of this workshop is therefore to bring together maritime administrators of member states who are responsible for port state control to brainstorm under the guide and expertise of IMO officials with the view of improving the practice of port state control in the sub-region,” he added.
Umar, who was represented at the workshop by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport, Mr. Nebolisa Emordi, assured that Nigeria being a major maritime nation was committed to fulfilling its obligations as a host country and a member state of Abuja MoU.
According to him, through the Federal Ministry of Transport, Nigeria has provided the secretariat of Abuja MoU with office accommodation, vehicles and regular funding.
“We have through the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) provided additional staff to assist the Secretary General. We are pleased to note the significant improvement in the operation of the secretariat as it continues to accomplish the tasks assigned to it at the last conference of the Ministers of Abuja MoU”, he added.
Secretary General of Abuja MoU, Mrs. Mfon Ekong Usoro, in her welcome address, said the idea of the workshop originated from her first meeting with the Technical Co-operation and Port State Control teams of IMO in 2010.
According to Usoro, who was the pioneer Director General of NIMASA, the meeting agreed on the need to aggressive advocacy for member states on the implementation of PSC obligations of maritime administrations.
Given the enormous resources required to execute missions to each member state, IMO and Abuja MoU agreed that it was preferable and expedient to have a workshop we can just learnt about PSC obligations but use the opportunity to interact and exchange ideas with fellow experts across the region.
She expressed delight at the high turn out of participants at the workshop, just as she lauded the government and people of Akwa Ibom for their hospitality.
She specifically thanked Governor Godswill Akpabio for his support and co-operation in the hosting of the workshop which attracted stakeholders in the maritime sector of the economy, amongst other participants from far and near.
She commended the federal government, Ministry of Transport and the Chairman of Abuja MoU whom is also the Minister-in-Charge, Mr. Martin Parfait Aime Coussoud-Mavoungou for their support and co-operation in the strides the organisation has attained since she was appointed its Secretary General.
Governor Akpabio in his remarks at the occasion called on the federal government to construct a rail line from the site earmarked for the Ibaka deepsea in the state and Port Harcourt, Rivers State, as well as Aba, Abia State.
Describing Port Harcourt and Aba as the port the state two major trading posts, Akpabio said the construction of the rail line to line the Ibaka deep seaport with Port Harcourt and Aba would go a long way in boosting the economy of the state and other parts of the country.
He also enumerated the various projects his administration has completed since he was elected the governor of the state.