CILT blames government agencies, operators for IMO Council loss

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The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) Nigeria has said that the recent failure by Nigeria to cling the Category C seat at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Council could not be blamed on the government alone but also on the entire industry players and operators.

The National Executive Director of CILT Nigeria, Mr. Paul Ndibe who stated this in an interview with our correspondence in Lagos on Monday held that he would not blame the leaders in this case as it was not only the leaders that were controlling every activity in the maritime sector but essentially the shipping companies.

He noted that if the shipping companies had played by the rules, all these things may not be happening even as he pointed out that in most cases, Nigeria was more of reactionary waiting until something happen for them to react which according to him was a bad signal in the maritime world.

According to him, “Anybody that is doing business particularly in the maritime must know ahead of time not when an action is taken, you now react; it is like you are not abreast with the developments. So, if that is the weak point to correct, I will say, because government is not one hundred percent in control of the maritime world therefore the blame cannot go the government but to the entire players both the regulators and operators.”

Ndibe observed that the loss showed that Nigeria needed to do more at all front noting that the maritime world was controlled centrally and that there were standards which one must meet.

He continued, “In a situation where cargo coming to Nigeria is highly priced on account of insecurity, cargos going to the Gulf of Guinea generally, with emphasis on Nigeria are priced more than others in terms of security and the Gulf of Guinea is listed as one of the most risky areas in the maritime environment. The issue of congestion of which some major shipping lines started raising congestion charges on cargoes coming to Nigeria. These things are weak signals and when these signals are being sent within the international maritime organization, the entire global maritime world, it impedes on the future of the country, it impedes on the flexibility with which Nigeria can undertake trade, it impedes even on the confidence level, it will raise even the insurance of cargo and vessels coming to Nigeria.

“So, the riskiness of doing business around the Gulf of Guinea is already heightened and it is not being mitigated. You don’t expect that Nigeria if it is occupying a sit at the IMO will still retain that if there is not much visible effort being taken to mitigate all that. And then this idea of consultation before implementation, like shipping companies will just all of a sudden slam charges without discussing with relevant controlling agencies. It is like there is no rule of engagement and when these things are not there, it weakens even the position of the country.

“It is not a surprise what has just happened but it is a wakeup call, Nigeria needs to do more and looking at it from other angles, our ease of doing business has not actually been stepped up, the logistics performance index is being expected. The improvement, how has it translated to the real sector? It has not translated to the real sector. So, these are the issues that are really affecting our performance within the global maritime world and if these things are there, once Nigeria is flagged up, everybody becomes attentive, trying to hear the bad news.

“Outside of these, I don’t think there is any major leap in the maritime development in the last one year but in Kenya, yes. Two major companies have moved to Kenya and even trying to increase their capacity in Kenya but not in Nigeria. So, that potential for increased capacity means increased trade, means increased revenue, means increased activity whereas that of Nigeria is being weakened. So, these are the factors that can influence the voting choice of which at least the result is now known.”

On the implication of the loss to Nigeria, the National Executive Director noted that “if it is a representative position and you are able to present your case, you are more likely to be heard but if you don’t occupy a seat and you don’t have that voice; of course, your issue might not be flagged up. But if the representative position is the global presentation of matters with within region, of course, the issue of Nigeria will be taken into consideration on a regional level but on a country to country level, if you are not there, you are not there. The country that is there will have its own problem to present and until its own problem is resolved, it might not be able to take up your own.”

On insinuations in some quarters that the loss may not be unconnected with the border closure by the Nigerian government, he said, “people may be tempted to link the two scenarios together because some of the major players in the maritime industry are also being affected by our border closure and there have been a representation to Nigeria to open the border and streamline a couple of things. And just recently, they said over 500,000 metric tonnes of cargoes are trapped at the border and if they are goods that have shelf life and they are there, by the time they get into the country or pass through Nigeria to other countries, of course, the wholesomeness would have been eroded and this thing can really affect the net worth of some shipping companies and then also, the insurance.

“But then, if there was an announcement and then you close the border but all of a sudden, the border was closed and even Ghana is accusing Nigeria of violation of the trade agreement. So, everything is about trade, if Ghana is accusing Nigeria of disruption of trade by closure of border and some exporting countries to Nigeria are concerned that measures were taken to secure our borders and they are affecting international trade, of course, since it is by choice, they will express their displeasure and that can pull the rug off Nigeria’s feet.

“So, if there are speculations that it could be part of it, yes but they may not have a direct relationship but they have a causal relationship. So, to some extent, one may be tempted to accept that there is a relationship.”

It will be recalled that Nigeria came within a whisker of returning to Category C of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Friday in London after losing the IMO Council election by just one vote. Though, the country missed its bid for membership of the Governing Council, IMO’s highest decision making organ, Nigeria’s performance was a remarkable improvement from 2017, when it lost by 12 votes.

However, West Africa lost its only seat in the Council, as Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, and Kenya retained their seats in the 20-member Category C of the IMO.

Photo: National Executive Director CILT, Mr. Paul Ndibe.

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