By Ignatius Ushie
Nigeria has dumped the Maritime Organization for West and Central Africa (MOWCA) following alleged disregard for the Rules of Procedure regarding the eligibility of candidates nominated for the position of the Secretary-General of the organization.
This was contained in a statement by the delegation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the 8th Bureau of Ministers and 15th General Assembly of MOWCA held on Thursday, July 29, 2021, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.
The statement reads in parts: “It is sad, and most depressing given Nigeria’s ardent and consistent support for MOWCA and its activities, that 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 the election of the Secretary-General of MOWCA.
This position followed the presentation for election for the position of Secretary-General of over-aged candidates by Guinea and the Republic of Benin, leading Nigeria to further observe: “Nigeria draws the attention of the General Assembly to the comment of MOWCA as presented by MOWCA secretariat in the annotated Agenda circulated this week to the Committee of Experts meeting, which confirmed that Nigeria is the only country that met the age eligibility criteria requirement that candidates must not exceed 55 years. The candidate nominated by Nigeria was 55 years as at when nominations closed in 2020 while the candidates of Guinea was 60 years old and that of Benin was 62 years old.”
By this, the Nigerian candidate and Director, Maritime Services, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Paul Adaliku was the only eligible candidate and should have been declared unopposed.
Still expressing its displeasure, the statement continued: “The apparent willingness of some member States to consider for elections candidates who knowingly contravened the age criteria having exceeded the maximum age limit by more than 5 years in the case of Guinea and 7 years by Benin, does not portend well for the reputation and operation of MOWCA as a rule-based organization”.
The statement further pointed out that no member States has supported MOWCA as much as Nigeria, as the records show, she has contributed over $5million in the past 10 years with the organization not employing a single Nigerian:” It should be noted that not a single citizen of Nigeria has ever been employed in MOWCA, and that this is the first time that Nigeria has contested for the position of the Secretary-General of the organization even though it is an uncontested fact that it is essentially the contributions of Nigeria that has sustained the organization over the years,” it said.
Speaking at the occasion, the Nigeria Team lead of the committee of experts, Barr (Mrs) Mfon Usoro thanked the Nigerian Ambassador to the Republic of Congo, HE. Amb Omar Suleiman for “being you – always 100% committed to serving Nigeria and your fellow citizens. Your experience in the maritime sector and familiarity with the terrain of diplomacy was self-evident”.
Also speaking, she poured encomiums on the Minister of State and the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, saying “May I be permitted to express my feminist sentiments please. The HMS is a fantastic Amazon warrior, was backed by a very smart general in the person of the female Permanent Secretary. The synergy and coordination between the two great female personalities is most admirable. It is motivating and facilitates work”.
For Dr. Adaliku, she encouraged him saying: “we appreciate your disposition throughout the mission. Be comforted that Nigeria found you a worthy candidate and harnessed the instrumentality of State to fight for you and that you were not defeated” in his remarks, the Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Bashir Jamoh, expressed disappointment over the election but expressed sincere belief that under the leadership of the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rt. Honourable Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of State, Sen. Gbemisola Ruqayyah Saraki, “we can and will proceed with a greater resolve as we re-calibrate to focus on what was, all along, our main target – Category C elections of the IMO Council.”
Of note is the fact that in the 45 years existence of the organization, for the first time, the position of the Secretary General remained vacant.