Nigeria has clinched the First Vice President position of the 28th Assembly of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
The country was elected into the position at the biennial conference of the global maritime watchdog at its headquarters in London, United Kingdom.
Though Nigeria is not contesting for the prestigious Category C of IMO Governing Council, her High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Senator Dalhatu Tafida, was popularly elected as the First Vice President of the Assembly with the representatives of all 170 member states in attendance.
Apparently pleased with the development, Nigeria’s delegation to the ongoing biennial conference including the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Alhaji Habib Abdullahi, were in celebration mood at the foyer of IMO Headquarters shortly after Tafida emerged victorious from the council chambers.
Leader of Nigeria’s delegation and Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, told THISDAY in London that the election of Tafida was a thing of pride for Nigeria.
His words: “We are very proud of this election and it goes to show the level of respectability of Nigeria in the international maritime community. It is a prestige and a mark of recognition and a trust in the ability of Nigeria. As Vice President of the IMO, Nigeria will play a significant role in the affairs of the international organisation, because in the absence of the President, the Vice will preside over its meetings”.
Umar, who was hitherto a member of the National Assembly, said the relationship between Nigeria and the United Nation’s specialised agency was cordial and mutually beneficial.
According to him, IMO holds Nigeria in high esteem because of her numerous contributions to its activities. Nigeria is one of the leading countries that sends candidates to the World Maritime University (WMU) in Sweden and indeed the IMO values that and takes it important.
Director General of Nigeria’s apex maritime regulatory authority, Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Ziakede Akpobolokemi, in his remarks said Tafida’s election meant a vote of confidence on Nigeria.
The NIMASA helmsman, who was represented at the General Assembly by NIMASA Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Mr. Haruna Baba-Jauro, said safety in the Gulf of Guinea remained a top priority for the UN specialised agency.
His words: "The outgoing President of the General Assembly is concerned about safety in the Gulf of Guinea, even though progress had been made in some areas, the Gulf of Guinea remains a challenge. For us as an agency, it is a challenge and we will continue to synergise with others to ensure safety; although, the waters are actually safer now”.
The biennial conference tagged IMO Assembly will run till December 4, 2013 with delegates of member nations meeting daily to take key decisions that will shape things in the maritime domain globally.
THISDAY checks revealed that the Assembly is IMO’s highest governing body as it is responsible for approving the work programme, voting the budget and determining its financial expenditure. It also elects members of the IMO 40-Member Council, which has three categories, namely A, B, and C.
Besides Umar, Abdullahi and the NIMASA helmsman representative, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Transport, Mr. Nebolisa Emordi; Rector, Maritime Academy of Nigeria, MAN, Oron, Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Joshua Okpo; Secretary-General, Abuja Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Port State Control, Mrs. Mfon Usoro, and Nigeria’s Alternate Permanent Representative to IMO, Captain Ibrahim Olugbade, are in attendance at the world gathering.
IMO comprises Assembly, a Council and five main Committees namely, the Maritime Safety Committee; the Marine Environment Protection Committee; the Legal Committee; the Technical Co-operation Committee and the Facilitation Committee. Besides, a number of Sub-Committees are also set up to support the work of the main technical committees.
The Council is elected by the Assembly for two-year terms beginning after each regular session of the Assembly. The Council is the executive organ of IMO and is responsible, under the Assembly, for supervising the work of the organisation.
Between sessions of the Assembly, the Council performs all the functions of the Assembly, except the function of making recommendations to Governments on maritime safety and pollution prevention which is reserved for the Assembly