In a bid to ensure that Nigeria wins re-election into one of the highest decision making body of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), an arm of the United Nation (UN) responsible for global maritime regulation, the Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geofrey Onyema have called on all Heads of Foreign Missions to support the countryâ€™s quest as it seeks election into the Category C of the IMO Council.
Speaking at the cocktail dinner in honour of Foreign Missions organised by the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja, Onyema said that as a key player in the global maritime industry, Nigeria has played active leadership roles in ensuring the development of the sector not only within the country but also in the entire West and Central African sub region.
Onyema assured the global maritime community of Nigeriaâ€™s readiness to ensure optimum performance through curbing piracy, preventing marine pollution, reinvigoration of its ports and capacity building.
According to him, â€œI wish to inform you that we have enacted proactive policies that conform to global best practices in the maritime sector. More specifically through the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), we have domesticated a number of IMO maritime safety conventions with a view to ensuring maritime safety and security not only in our domain but in the entire West and Central African Sub region.â€
In the same vein, Amaechi said that Nigeria has taken a lead role in African maritime sector, adding that the Regional Search and Rescue Coordination Centre (RMRCC) in Lagos, coordinates Search and Rescue (SAR) activities in Nigeria and African sub region which comprises of, Togo, Benin Republic, Cameroun, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Equitorial Guinea as well as Soa Tome and Principe.
He added that the federal government has approved the establishment of an Integrated National Surveillance and Waterways Infrastructure Protection which will ensure security in the Nigerian maritime domain.
On his part, Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside said that Nigeria occupies a special position in the African Maritime sector based on the length of its coastline and the attendant volume of trade.
According to Peterside, â€œNigeria has a coastline of over 850km, and 65 per cent of the cargoes heading to Africa would end up in Nigeria. We are the first country in Africa to enact a Coastal and Inland Trade Law (Cabotage Law) and we are likely going to be the first to enact and anti-piracy bill and so we are committed to taking shipping to the next level.â€
The Indonesian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Harry Purwento and his counterpart from Syria, Mohammed Abo Serriah, commended Nigeriaâ€™s achievements in recent times and pledged support towards the election in to the council seat.
They said aside supporting Nigeriaâ€™s bid they would also canvass for votes for the country after seeing the strides being made by Nigeria in the entire African Maritime Sector.
Nigeria through NIMASA is seeking election into the Category C of the IMO council which is coming up later this year. Nigeria lost the seat in 2011 however unprecedented improvements have been made in the past two years which puts Nigeria in a stead to clinch the seat of one of the highest decision making body of the IMO Council.