Maritime stakeholders on Thursday disclosed that an improved ease of doing business is crucial to Nigeria’s quest for getting elected to the International Maritime Organisations (IMO) council.
They made the call at the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association, Nigeria (WISTA Nigeria) summit with theme as: “Objective Appraisal of Nigerians’ Eligibility for International Maritime Organisations (IMO) Council Membership”.
They added that though, the Federal Government had an executive order on ease of doing business, the turnaround time for vessels, bottlenecks faced at ports and many other issues negate the order, giving the country a bad image.
Ms Adaora Nwonu, Assistant Director, Special Duties, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), noted that the country should look into other issues including quality of the country’s representation, last meeting preparation, non-automation of system among others.
“Since 2011, we have been contesting and losing. We need to do a post-mortem to see if steps taken to improve our chances works and work on some issues that worked against us.
“We need to be objective and tell ourselves the truth, is the country really ready for the next IMO election coming up or do we wait for 2023.
“We need to do some detailed assessment on where we want to be, doing a shoddy and poor preparation just months or a year to the election will not help the country,” she said.
Nwonu said that government came up with ease of doing business to change things, but government agencies had also been accused of defaulting the executive orders.
Mr Emeka Akabogu, Senior Partner, Akabogu and Associates, called for a coordinated trade merchant strategy to provide experience that would push Nigeria’s perception for eligibility in IMO seat.
“The problem Nigeria is facing is more of issues of perception by countries who are voting due to issues in our international trade as IMO pushes for speedy trade facilitation.
“Ship owners spend millions of dollars to get their vessels berth in our ports.
“Treatment of vessels that have issue like the MT San Padre Pio vessel that stayed three years on Nigerian waters on allegation of bunkering despite proof to the contrary and even interventions,” he said.
Akabogu noted that being a member of IMO might not improve the country’s maritime space if the needful such as having a single window, trade portal was not addressed.
Ms Sharon Amu, Manager, Pollution Control Nigerian Ports Authority, said that it was good to consider waiting till 2023 to ensure all papers are implemented and reflect in the ease of doing business in the country.
“All maritime government agencies must stand as one and there is need to work on our political strength so that we improve our chances,” she said.
Mrs Nneka Obianyor, a Ship Registrar and Deputy Director at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), noted that Nigeria’s biggest challenge was piracy.
Obianyor added that the deep blue assets and the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act tackled this.
“Getting into the IMO council required lots of effort, commitment and strategic planning.
“With the right support and collective efforts by all stakeholders and full backing of government, Nigeria will surely get into the council for the 2022 to 2023 biennium,” she said.
Earlier, Mrs Eunice Ezeoke, WISTA.NG President, noted that the way forward was for Nigeria to look inward and further develop capacity and infrastructure to change the perception of the country.
According to her, regulatory agencies need to enhance the sector reforms to conform to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Nigeria as a nation must consider the acquisition of a national career with her flag and this will provide sea-time experience for her teeming cadets and seafarers,” she said. (NAN)