Chairman House Committee on Maritime, Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi
As Nigerians continue to bemoan the country’s failure to clinch a seat in the Governing Council of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in the last biennial conference in London, the National Assembly has said it will not leave any stone unturned in its quest to get to the root of the matter.
The legislators’ quest to unravel the factors responsible for Nigeria’s failure at the IMO election last November is coming on the heels of committees set up by the Federal Ministry of Transport to investigate the nation’s failure as well as prepare grounds for the next election.
Nigeria had vigorously campaigned for the coveted seat but lost out by one vote, making her delegates to the biennial conference led by the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar to hurriedly leave the conference venue in London and returned home with long faces.
The National Assembly resolve to investigate the circumstances surrounding Nigeria’s failure at the IMO election was unfolded when a delegation of top government officials led by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Marine Transportation, Senator Zinab Kure and her House of Representatives counterpart, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi paid a courtesy visit to the Nigerian High Commissioner to Britain, Dalhatu Sarki Tafida at the Nigerian House in London.
The lawmakers told Tafida that the National Assembly want to ascertain how the country failed to retain its council seat at the 2011 November election of IMO with a view to learn from it and avoid the same pitfalls in future.
“The National Assembly wants to know exactly what went wrong. This is not meant to apportion blames. We are convinced of the need to critically examine the facts behind the failure, if a recurrence was to be prevented. We do not want to dwell on hear say and speculations. That is the only way to avoid the same pitfalls in future”, they said.
One of the reasons Tafida gave Nigeria’s failure to pay its membership fees to the IMO before the election was held.
“We need to dig down on the issue of the non-payment of the IMO membership fees”, Ugwuanyi added, pointing out that the National Assembly needed a detailed report on the matter.
He highlighted that the nation’s greatest challenge presently, was to provide facility which would ensure that Nigerian cadets have access to adequate sea time exposure and trainings as required by international conventions to which the country was a signatory. “We need a road map. And we believe all parties must be involved in this task”, he said.
Another member of the delegation charged the British High Commissioner to explain why thousands of Nigerians are languishing in jail in British prisons.
Tafida however maintained that much as he deeply appreciated the concern of his visitors, he might not be able to submit his detailed report to the lawmakers, stressing that the report was already sent to the Ministry of Transport; which could easily reproduce it, should the National Assembly request for it.
“You can write to the Ministry and ask them why Nigeria failed to get re-elected”, Tafida said, even as he corrected the notion that thousands of Nigerians were in British prisons.
“It is not true that we have thousands of Nigerians in British prisons. If journalists are here now, you can imagine how they may react. We are here, and we visit the inmates. We talk to them. Therefore, we know that figure was wrong. When we arrived here, the figure was about 850. Not 15 or 20,000 and we have successfully pruned it down to about 500”, Tafida added.