Minister of Transportation, Muazu Sambo, has expressed optimism that with the working visit of the Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to Nigeria, the country would next year secure a seat and get back into Category C of the global maritime body’s Governing Council.
Nigeria has been elected into the IMO Council only three times- in 2000, 2007 and 2009 while other attempts to return to the Council since 2009 have failed.
The IMO Secretary General had during the visit, attended the Nigeria International Maritime Summit and interacted with maritime stakeholders. He also participated in a simulated section at the C4i Command and Control headquarters of the Deep Blue Project of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) at the agency’s resource centre in Lagos.
Lim also commissioned the NIMASA’s new head office in Lagos.
Speaking with journalists in Lagos on Tuesday shortly after accompanying the IMO’s scribe on an inspection tour of the Nigerian Maritime Resource Developmental Centre, Sambo said the visit of Lim, which he described as very significant, has enabled the country to showcase its maritime capacity.
This, he said, would put Nigeria in a good position and support its chances to clinch the Category C seat of the IMO Council.
He said,” The IMO Secretary General visit to Nigeria is very significant. This is the most powerful official of the IMO coming to Nigeria. You don’t get them coming to any country anyhow because they have very busy schedules. In fact, the IMO Council is taking place next week in London.
“But I think the significance of Nigeria, and the relationship which is quite robust that we have with the Secretary General in particular and the roles we have been able to play in the maritime domain all played together to attract him to this country. Today, Nigeria is the cynosure of all eyes all over the world by this single visit and we remain grateful to the Secretary General. He is a friend of Nigeria and indeed of Africa.
“I am sure the Secretary General is going back to London better informed than when he came. By the grace of God, next year, Nigeria is going to clinch that Council seat, I tell you”, Sambo assured.
Speaking on the command, control, communication, computer, and intelligence system (C4i) facilities set up by NIMASA to enhance security on the waterways, Sambo dismissed concern that the agency is duplicating duties and wasting resources on the same maritime surveillance and security projects being carried out by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Navy.
“Maritime security concerns everyone. This is the regional centre looking after about nine countries. Our commitment still stands, nothing has changed. If anything, what I have seen today only reinforces that commitment. When some of us are asleep, snoring or lying down comfortably in our beds reading books or watching movies, some Nigerians spend their time 24/7 protecting our lives.
“More than ever, I am highly impressed with what I have seen here today. The C4i is a massive and critical investment. I think I also agree with the President that what we have covering the maritime domain should also be reflected on land.
“Each of these agencies have different types of system, and not C4i. But as far as that of NPA is concerned, it is a step towards a port community system. It is a step in the direction of establishing a port community system,” he said.
On his part, the NIMASA DG, Jamoh, appreciated Lim for the visit and all NIMASA staff that ensured the success of his visit to Nigeria.
He added, “I also appreciate the Federal Ministry of Transportation for their understanding and the support they have given us in the last seven days to ensure that the visit of the Secretary General is a memorable one.
“This center, as you can see, is a center where research and development as well as training takes place, and it is named after the Secretary General of the IMO.”
L-R: Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani; Secretary General, International Maritime Organisation (IMO), His Excellency Kitack Lim; Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo; and Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh OFR; at the Nigerian Maritime Resource Development Centre, Lagos on Tuesday.