The Secretary General of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Port State Control (PSC) for West and Central African Region, Mrs. Mfon Ekong Usoro has resigned from office.
The MoU on PSC for countries in the West and Central Africa Sub-Regions otherwise called Abuja MoU is hosted by Nigeria with its secretariat in Lagos.
It is styled after similar organisations across the globe such as Paris MoU, Tokyo MoU, Indian Ocean MoU, and the Mediterranean MoU. Others are the Acuerdo Latino MoU, Caribbean MoU, Black Sea MoU and Riyadh MoU.
Backed by the global maritime watchdog, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Abuja MoU, just as its counterparts elsewhere, has a mandate to ensure that PSC is implemented in member nations that are signatories to the MoU.
Since it entails the inspection of foreign ships in other national ports by PSC officers or inspectors, PSC is vital to efficient port operations worldwide. It also involves verifying the competency of the master and officers on board, and the condition of the ship and its equipment comply with the requirements of international conventions.
Although speculations about the resignation of Usoro, who was the pioneer Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration (NIMASA) have been rife since last year, THISDAY checks revealed that she has formally notified the Congo Minister of Transport and Chairman of Abuja MoU, Mr. Rodolphe Adada; Nigeria’s Minister of Transport, Right Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, Secretary General of IMO and MOWCA of her resignation in writing.
In line with Article 55 (c) of the Abuja MoU Staff Rule, Usoro is expected to formally leave office on June 16, 2016 as her notice of resignation was dated January 26, 2016.
In spite of the fact that Usoro is not leaving office immediately, her resignation is already causing ripples in the shipping world as there are fears that her exit may affect Abuja MoU.
Contacted on the development, Usoro simply said via an sms: “I have resigned.”
Though no reason was given for her resignation, sources at the corporate headquarters of the Ministry of Transportation in Abuja told THISDAY that the Minister of Transportation is aware of the development.
“The Minister was shock when he received the resignation notice. You are aware that the organisation has achieved a lot since Usoro’s appointment as the Secretary General of Abuja MoU,” said the source who did not want his name to be mentioned.
THISDAY had reported that at the just concluded regional workshop organised by Nigeria, Abuja MoU, and IMO in Lagos, over 19 countries were in attendance.
The minister said PSC was vital because merchant ships often trade outside the areas that under the jurisdiction of the flag state, maritime agencies cannot therefore guarantee that all ships under their flag are in full compliance with safety requirements.