By Ignatius Ushie

Infinity Tyres

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.