Abuja 2017: 3rd AAMA Confab Sets to Sail Nigeria’s Profile Higher in International Maritime

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 About a decade after its establishment, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is set for the unveiling of its new brand as part of an international event it is organising in conjunction with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

No less a personage than Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will do the honours of presenting to the public the new liveries of Nigeria’s apex maritime regulatory agency. This auspicious event is scheduled for the sidelines of another great event, the Third Conference of the Heads of the Association of African Maritime Administrations (AAMA Conference) holding from April 19 to 21, 2017, at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.

In the words of the Director-General of NIMASA: “The new NIMASA brand would be unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari on the 20th of April which coincides with the hosting of AAMA. It’s part of our concept to inject a new dose of energy into the NIMASA brand.”

 

For those three days, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is expected to surge with maritime personalities as delegates from 32 countries in Africa and other participants from a number of maritime organisations around the world converge to deliberate on issues about enhancing the relevance of Africa’s maritime assets in global shipping. The IMO Secretary-General, Mr. Kitack Lim, will be leading five-member delegation of the United Nations (UN) specialised agency that regulates and promotes safety and security of shipping globally.

 

The AAMA inaugural and the second conferences were held in Mombasa, Kenya in 2012 and Sandton, South-Africa in 2013, respectively. The third edition which Nigeria is poised to host was earlier scheduled to hold in the country in 2014 but was called off. Nigeria’s hosting of the conference, according to NIMASA, conform with her effort to continue to improve on her role as a global player in the comity of maritime nations.

 

“This crucial 3rd AAMA Conference is set to draw a road map for the future sustainable work plans of the Association. The theme of the Conference is Sustainable Use of Africa’s Oceans and Seas.

 

“The theme is against the backdrop of the declaration by the African Union (AU) of the decade 2015-2025 as the Decade of African Seas and Oceans. We view hosting AAMA as part of our drive to reposition the Nigerian maritime sector, thereby making Nigeria a force to be reckoned with again, globally.”

 

Peterside explained that “the hosting of this conference in Nigeria is in line with the economic diversification agenda of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, and the repositioning agenda of the present (NIMASA) Management to make Nigerian maritime industry a leading light in Africa and the global maritime sector.”

 

The conference, according to him, will open a new vista of opportunities to the teeming Nigerian unemployed youth, as well as unlock the potentials inherent in the maritime sector. He said: “The benefits of hosting the conference cannot be overemphasised, it will equally avail stakeholders in the Nigerian maritime industry an opportunity to rub minds with their counterparts across Africa and the globe, and further chart a way forward for the African maritime sector. It will effectively signal the arrival of the country in the global maritime arena as a respectable global voice.”

 

The NIMASA boss is also hopeful that the conference could serve as a platform towards Nigeria’s re-election into the IMO Council seat at this year’s General Meeting of the global body in November. In his words: “Aside of the immediate benefits of having maritime administrations in Africa converge in Nigeria, the multiplier effect will go a long way to enhance the chances of Nigeria to return Council at IMO at the Category C level. NIMASA’s Management has received the presidential approval to seek election in to the Category C of the IMO Council.”

Peterside’s eagerness to have Nigeria return to a seat in the IMO Council is understandable, Minister of Transportation Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi having recently announced that the President has approved for Nigeria to re-contest election into the Council in November this year. Elections into the IMO Council are held biennially.

The Council is the executive organ of the IMO and supervises its work between sessions of the IMO General Assembly. The former renders all functions of the latter, except for making recommendations to governments on maritime safety and pollution prevention.

Comprising 40 countries elected in three categories, namely A, B, and C, the IMO Council Category A consists states with the largest interest in providing international shipping services. These states are China, Greece, Italy, Japan, Norway, Panama, Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States of America (USA).

 

According to the IMO, Category B has 10 states “with the largest interest in international seaborne trade.” These states are Argentina, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden.

 

Comprising 20 states not electable under categories A and B, Category C Council members, according to the IMO, are states with “special interests in maritime transport or navigation and whose election to the Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world.” The 2016-2017 biennium Category C Council members include Australia, Bahamas, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Indonesia, Kenya, and Liberia. Others are Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, and Turkey.

 

Nigeria is no stranger to the IMO Council Category C, having been elected to the membership in 2000, lost her seat after the initial two years, and regained same in 2007 to serve two consecutive terms until 2011 when she failed to muster enough votes to retain her seat. Nigeria was not a candidate in the 2013 and 2015 elections.

 

Now she has indicated keen interest in participating in this year’s election, Nigeria just might stage a successful comeback to the IMO Council Category C membership. Nigeria has all what it takes, and devoid of the veritable jamborees that campaigns for a seat at various periods have been in the past. NIMASA has notched up enough credible achievements, particularly in the past one year, to attract wide ranging support for her cause. NIMASA is indeed pulling her weight locally and internationally on the issues that matter, notably the promotion of safer and more secure maritime trade.

 

At a world press conference to mark the one year of his administration at NIMASA some days ago, Peterside said: “The Regional Search and Rescue Committee which is made up of nine member-countries under the Nigerian SAR Region, namely: Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Congo, DR (Democratic Republic of) Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Sao Tome & Principe, and Togo was dormant. They never met to discuss modalities of collaboration for almost a decade. However, since this new management came on board, the Agency has successfully hosted two Sub-Regional Technical Committee meetings to build a formidable regional network. The regional network has increased our level of alertness, thus improving our capacity to respond to distress calls, which has ultimately led to a considerable reduction in the cases of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. Our quest to achieve a safer maritime domain has seen us working on an Anti-Piracy Bill.

 

“We have received the President’s backing to acquire assets that will be deployed at strategic locations, thus enhancing our ability to improve the safety of vessels within our maritime domain.

“Having realised the need to enhance the safety of boat users in Nigeria, we have secured the approval of the Honourable Minister of Transportation to increase the number of Search and Rescue Marshalls from 100 to 1,000.”

 

Highlighting Nigeria’s efforts in the implementation of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, the NIMASA boss said: “We have intensified the Agency’s drive to ensure strict compliance with the provisions of the ISPS Code. The result is that Nigeria now has a compliance rate of almost 80 per cent as 114 port facilities out of the total 145 ports in Nigeria are now fully ISPS compliant. Let’s not forget that NIMASA was only appointed the Designated Authority for the implementation of ISPS Code in Nigeria barely five years ago when compliance was barely 13 per cent.

 

“Though eight per cent of the remaining 31 port facilities are currently pursuing compliance, our goal is to target a 100 per cent compliance level within the next 12 months. Our efforts have attracted have attracted commendation from the United States Coast Guard team the visited Nigeria earlier this year.”

 

On the IMO Member State Audit Scheme, he said: “The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Member State Audit Scheme (IMSAS) is an exercise designed by the IMO to assess the degree to which Member States are meeting their obligations and responsibilities as Flag, Port and Coastal States under the relevant IMO instruments. As a major step towards attaining a more effective global implementation of its conventions, the IMO Assembly in December 2013 made the Member State Audit Scheme mandatory.

“The Audit of Nigeria was successfully conducted by IMO in June, 2016.”

With the Nigerian President billed to declare open the Third AAMA Conference as Special Guest of Honour, the list of speakers include the Secretary-General of the IMO, Mr. Kitack Lim; the Chief Executive Officer of the Maersk Group, Mr. Soren Skou; the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and the Interim Chairman of AAMA, Mr. Sobantu Tilayi; and the Chief Executive Officer/Commissioner of the Liberia Maritime Authority, Dr. James Kollie.

 

Formed following the signing of the African Transport and Maritime Charter in 2012 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, AAMA aims to promote the development of Africa’s maritime regulatory and maritime environment.

 

AAMA, which brings together all players in the African maritime sector, is also an umbrella body of five African maritime stakeholders’ groups namely: Association of Maritime Administrations of Africa, Africa’s Ship Registry Forum, African Ship Owners Association as well as African Shippers’ Council and Seafarers’ Forum.

 

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