Maritime industry stakeholders have welcomed the decision by Nigeria to quit the Maritime Organisation for West and Central Africa (MOWCA), saying it is a step in the right direction and should be affirmed.
The stakeholders who spoke in separate interviews with Maritime Today Online, said the maritime organization has been ineffective over the years, hence it has not made any significant impact on economies of member states especially as its concern security challenges facing the Gulf of Guinea.
Nigeria, on Monday announced her decision to quit MOWCA over what it termed disregard for the rules of procedure regarding the eligibility of candidates nominated for the position of the Secretary-General of the organization.
The Director, Press and Public Relations at the Federal Ministry of Transportation, Eric Ojiekwe, said in a statement issued in Abuja that ‘Nigeria’s delegation to the MOWCA election expressed sadness at the outcome of the meeting, given Nigeria’s ardent and consistent support for MOWCA and its activities over the years.
“Nigeria as a nation must take a stand against the promotion of illegality, disrespect for the rule of law and contravention of the rules regarding election of the Secretary-General of MOWCA.
“She (Nigeria) has contributed more than five million dollars in the past 10 years with the organization not employing a single Nigerian,” Ojiekwe had said.
Speaking on the development, Chairman, Port Consultative Council (PCC), Otunba Kunle Folarin, said it is sad that no Nigerian nominee has been elected the Secretary General since the establishment of MOWCA despite the fact that the country has been the sole fundraiser of the organization.
Besides, he noted that there hasn’t been any great impact of MOWCA nor policy direction on events happening in the region including the issue of piracy and armed robbery attacks in the Gulf of Guinea.
“MOWCA has been in existence for so long and Nigeria happens to be the only contributor to the funding of MOWCA because other countries are not contributing their quota. That is one issue that has been lingering for a long time.
“And for many years, the Secretary General of MOWCA has been coming from Ghana and other Francophone countries, not Nigeria who is the fundraiser for the agency. So that will be an issue why Nigeria decided to leave the agency. But besides that, there is no great impact of MOWCA on events happening in the region. For instance, we have not had any policy direction from MOWCA on the piracy and armed robbery attack in the Gulf of Guinea.
“We have not had any impact on MOWCA on bringing policies out to grow the economy of the region. So MOWCA has been a bit idle for a very long time and I think it is appropriate Nigeria leaves the organization.
“If we as a country are funding for an organization and we have not been able to drive policies by occupying the post of the Secretary General since the inauguration of the agency, I support that it is about time we leave,” he said.
Speaking in the same vein, a maritime expert and marine engineer, Engr. Emmanuel Ilori, also expressed support for Nigeria’s exit wondering what value MOWCA has added to the Nigerian economy as a member country despite its huge funding of the maritime organization over the years.
According to him, Nigeria has nothing to lose for pulling out of MOWCA adding that the maritime body can also not determine Nigeria’s fate in the forthcoming election of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Governing Council slated for October/ November this year.
He said it is about time Nigeria exerts itself as a dominant maritime nation in Africa by redeveloping itself and not allowed to be taken for granted.
“Apart from the political issue, what value has MOWCA added to Nigeria? Nothing. Do we have the trade? Yes. So, Nigeria should just redevelop itself. There are other alliances that we can form. We can’t really say because we left MOWCA, they won’t vote for us at IMO. Other nations that have voted for us, voted on merit. Afterall Kenya is not in MOWCA and it got into IMO.
“MOWCA represents more or less the African Atlantic coast nations that really should be dominating maritime trade along that part of the world but it has not lived up to its name. So, it is about time we leave because Nigeria by virtue of its position and trade within the African Atlantic coast should not be taken for granted anymore more so that Nigeria has also been funding this organization for long.
“It is about time we begin to apply the regulations that govern maritime trade. If Africa is going to be any force to reckon with, we need to begin to respect the regulations. How would the world take us seriously if we cannot as a regional organization comply with the rules that govern her establishment, then the whole world cannot take us seriously.
“There are significant technical challenges affecting the African Atlantic coast that we believe MOWCA should have been responding to. Take for example, the security challenge within the African Atlantic coast, MOWCA should have been taking the lead but Nigeria has taken the front in terms of trade and war risk premium slash on the region. Where is MOWCA in all this? So, I think it is about time we begin to come out and for once we must congratulate Nigeria for coming out in taking a decision to actually lead from the front,” he said.
In his remarks, founding President of Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA), Chief Isaac Jolapomo, lamented that Nigeria is ‘always at the receiving end while playing the big brother role’ despite picking up all the bills to support the maritime organization.