Director-general, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside, has blamed the insecure and unsafe waterway of Nigeria for the recent loss of election into the Category C of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
Speaking with journalists at the end of a meeting of the ‘G7 Friends of Gulf of Guinea Group’ in Lagos, Peterside said the 7 Friends of the Gulf of the Guinea Group was one of the international initiatives Nigeria was leveraging to strengthen fight against piracy and other criminal activities on the sea.
Recall that insecurity on the nation’s water prompted the United States of America in November 2017 to warn ships to be wary when approaching Nigerian waters.
The US Maritime Administration quoted the latest quarterly report from the International Maritime Bureau, which stated that a total of 20 reports of attacks against all vessel types were received from Nigeria, while 39 of the 49 crew members’ kidnappings globally occurred off Nigerian waters in seven separate incidents.
But, the NIMASA boss said the general impression of international community was that Nigeria was not doing enough to tackle the challenge, and it contributed immensely to Nigeria losing the election.
“I cannot deny the fact that the issue of piracy may have had some impact on the elections. Our colleagues did not have much information about what we were doing to tackle piracy and there was a general impression that Nigeria was not doing enough to tackle the issue of piracy,” he said.
“What you are seeing now is an international dimension to the fight against piracy and maritime crime which is a new strategy. G7 is an initiative of the group towards finding lasting solution to the issues of security in the Gulf of Guinea.
“On the amount spent on the lost election, “NIMASA spent less than N100 million on the IMO campaign and it was only three delegates that attended the conference from NIMASA,” he said.
He explained that countries like Singapore, China and United Arab Emirates attended the IMO with highest number of delegate, but blamed late preparations, delay from the Federal Executive Council and recession as other reasons Nigeria lost.
“Also, late preparations and the fact that we did not go round other countries like others did, it would have cost plenty of money but we are not willing to spend such money. We had considered economic factors in context of our political aspirations.
“It is Nigeria that ran for IMO category C, and for you to use the name Nigeria, you must get the approval from the man who is managing the country. We lost some time trying to get approval but after we got the approval, there were also budgetary processes to go through. The approval was given two years ago but we needed budgetary provision to begin the campaign, all of these things affected our preparations,” he said.
NIMASA is starting the next preparations immediately, because Nigeria deserves a place in the council of the IMO, he said.