Abiye Precious Sekibo
By John Iwori
Stakeholders in the maritime sector of the economy have continued to drum support for the Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (PSC) for the West and Central African Regions (Abuja MoU).
The stakeholders include the former Ministers of Transport, Dr. Abiye Precious Sekibo, Alhaji Ibrahim Isah Bio, and the erstwhile Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Chief Adebayo Sarunmi and the leadership of the Indigenous Shipowners Association of Nigeria (ISAN) which presently has Chief Isaac Jolapamo as its Chairman.
They have not relented in their quest to ensure that the purpose for which the organisation was established was achieved.
Impeccable sources told THISDAY that the resolve of stakeholders to rally round Abuja MoU was borne out of the need to ensure that it attains its set goals and objectives in the years ahead.
It was learnt that the resolve of the stakeholders to back the present leadership of Abuja MoU, which has the pioneer Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mrs. Mfon Usoro as its Secretary-General, was behind their high attendance at the recent three-day workshop for Heads of Maritime Administrations in the West and Central Africa sub-regions, which took place at the Akwa Ibom State capital, Uyo.
The two former ministers, Sarunmi, Jolapamo and other stakeholders did not only attend the workshop but also played active roles to ensure the success of the forum, which attracted participants from no fewer than 20 countries.
THISDAY checks revealed that the support for Abuja MoU and its Secretary General was informed by the new height the sub-regional organisation has reached since the appointment of Mrs. Usoro to head it.
Sekibo, who was the Minister of Transport when Usoro was appointed the Director General of NIMASA and Bio when she was appointed the Secretary General of Abuja MoU, were happy that their choice was a wise decision going by the giant strides she has achieved since then.
Bio who stayed throughout the three-day forum organised by Abuja MoU in collaboration with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) was particularly pleased that his decision to nominate Usoro as the Secretary General of Abuja MoU was not misplaced, as she has succeeded in giving life to the near-comatose sub-regional organisation.
Bio had, in a short message service (SMS) to Usoro, asked her to take over the running of the secretariat of the sub-regional organisation which has its headquarters in Nigeria. The appointment, which was initially in acting capacity, was confirmed a year later.
Sarumi, who was the helmsman of NPA when Usoro held sway in NIMASA, has not relented in giving her moral support to ensure she succeed in her present assignment as the Secretary General of Abuja MoU.
In the same vein, members of ISAN, who by virtue of their business have links with Abuja MoU, have also not relented in their quest to see that Abuja MoU excel now that Usoro is in the saddle.
It was also learnt that this was why Jolapamo and ISAN Secretary General, Captain Dawodu Labinjo, actively participated in the three-day international workshop organised by Abuja MoU and IMO in Uyo.
Abuja MoU, which is one of the 9 regional MoUs in the world, came into being following the resolve of member states to work together to achieve set goals and objectives. Its name was derived from the fact that the MoU was signed in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. The MoU was signed on October 22, 2012.
Member states of Abuja MoU had at the end of the three-day workshop asked the global maritime watchdog to organise other training seminars and workshops on national and regional training on PSC and proficiency in English language.
They also enjoined IMO to embark on train-the-trainers programmes, convene further workshops and seminars within the framework of the IMO Integrated Technical Co-operation Programme, as well as assist Abuja MoU in finalising the effective implementation of its Information Centre.
These decisions formed part of the resolutions reached by participants at the end of the workshop were aimed at achieving an efficient Abuja MoU, and those of a more general character which are related to future actions and cooperation with IMO in the region.
They stressed the need for the conclusion of ongoing work of harmonization and obtain Committee adoption for the ‘Abuja MoU PSCO Manual’ which should make provisions for PSC inspection of ships at offshore facilities.
According to them, member states should adopt by the next Committee Meeting, a viable information technology solution for the Abuja MoU Information Centre at Pointe-Noire, Republic of Congo, and raise awareness of the Abuja MoU member states regarding their roles and responsibilities to the MoU.
They are also to urge the Abuja MoU member states to make prompt payment of their financial obligations including arrears, urge those countries in the region who are not members of the Abuja MoU to become members; encourage cooperation with other MoUs and maritime administrations, within and outside the region, for provision of training and exchange of experience and knowledge; and encourage use of the provisional Port State Inspection (PSI) Portal.
On further cooperations with IMO, the participants said support, when possible, regular meetings of Heads of Maritime Administrations in the Region, at frequencies to be determined by the Abuja MoU Committee should be carried out.
They also asked for an increase in the number of PSC training opportunities within the IMO ITCP for member states in Abuja MoU.