Nigeria’s Loss of IMO Seat: One Defeat Too Many
Last week Friday, Nigeria once again lost its bid to regain the Category C seat of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in a keenly contested election in London Headquarters of the world body.
Last weekend’s loss makes it the sixth consecutive failed attempt which Nigeria made to recapture the global crown it lost in 2011.
The latest loss was particularly painful and dramatic as the country lost against high expectations and hope for a better outing.
Disappointed stakeholders have since then been making wild guesses as to why Nigeria has consistently become a serial loser at the IMO Council seat elections.
While some believed that the maritime administration in Nigeria has not done enough to make the country merit a seat to dine with serious maritime nations in the world, others believed the loss was an unfair reflection of efforts of the present management of NIMASA to shore up our maritime fortunes.
Not a few stakeholders gave Nigeria a chance to clinch the coveted position which it narrowly lost to Kenya by one vote in 2019.
Nonetheless, we are saddened by this latest loss given the level of improvements we thought our maritime administration has recorded in recent times.
Before this time, the previous losses have mainly been attributed to the notoriety of Nigeria’s waters for pirate attacks as well as the shambled state of our ship registry.
Our Search and Rescue operations were also blamed while the poor level of compliance of port infrastructures to the ISPS code was not spared.
But in recent times, the present management of NIMASA led by Dr Bashir Jamoh has shown uncommon commitment and courage to tackle these challenges.
We can recall that incidents of pirate attacks on our waters drastically reduced early this year due to the collaborative efforts of NIMASA with the Navy.
The notorious Gulf of Guinea was calmer in recent times due to the conscious collaborative efforts and strategic partnership which Nigeria had with foreign Navies whose presence has helped to reduce the incidence of piracy in the region.
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) even acknowledged this feat in its quarterly assessment reports.
Incidents of piracy in the first nine months of 2021 are the lowest reported in 17 years.
This represents 77 percent decrease in incidents between 2021 and 2020 and 95 percent reduction from 2018. “The IMB also reported a 39 percent reduction in piracy and armed robbery incidents in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG),” said Jimoh.
To complement its security efforts on Nigerian waters, NIMASA launched an operation of a modern and sophisticated security architecture known as Command, Control Computer Communication and Information System(C4i).
This is to create maximum security, strong surveillance as well as low freight costs that will boost the confidence of investors and port users.
Also, the NIMASA management took a bold step to revamp the ship registry which has for some years been a disincentive for ships to fly Nigeria’s flag.
On the ISPS code compliance level of Nigerian Ports facilities, the United States Coast Guards (USCG) commended NIMASA as the Designated Authority (DA) over the improved compliance level attained by the country which was rated at 90 percent.
The Search and Rescue operations of the agency have recorded significant milestones in recent times with its rescue operations to salvage distressed ships, passengers, and crew members.
To put the icing on the cake, the Federal Government, early this year, launched the multi-billion dollars security apparatus called deep blue project which was a revolutionary security architecture to sweep our waters of criminal elements.
The project, being driven by NIMASA, involves all other security agencies whose personnel are equipped with the sophisticated hardware and assets acquired under the project to engage criminals on our waters and keep our waters safe.
The international community even commended this security initiative which it confessed has considerable calming effects on the raging Gulf of Guinea.
With all these efforts to improve maritime security and Safety on our waters, which is the core function of any maritime administration in the world and for which Nigeria through NIMASA has acquitted itself, what more does the world want?
The efforts of the incumbent NIMASA management in maritime security have even been acknowledged by the IMO when the body described Nigeria as the most improved maritime nation in the sub-region.
Why then are all these efforts by Nigeria not rewarded with a victory at the IMO elections?
As far as we are concerned, Nigeria lost the elections to grand international conspiracy and criminal gang-up by her jealous and ingrate neighbours.
We are not by any means suggesting that our challenges in the maritime industry are over.
On the contrary, we still need to firm up on some other key areas of administration and operations to put the industry on a sound footing, especially the grey areas identified in the audit exercise by the IMO.
But our position is that, unlike the previous defeats which Nigeria has suffered since 2011, the current loss is most unjustified and unkindest cut given the sincerity of purpose of Jamoh- led management in its reformation agenda in the industry aimed at correcting some of the administrative and operational lapses that had hitherto caused our failures at the IMO Council elections.
Despite this loss, however, we would like to commend Nigeria nay NIMASA for fighting a good battle.
They have put up a good show.
To us Nigeria didn’t lose as a result of administrative ineptitude and operational laxity as some critics may want us to believe but instead, we lost to bad international politics heavily steeped in “bad belle”.
We want to encourage Jamoh and his team not to be despondent nor allow their fighting spirit to be dampened as a result of this defeat which to us, was “against the run of play”.
Rather, the management should go back to the drawing board and commence immediate preparations for the next IMO council elections in 2023.
The defeat should also spur NIMASA to improve on its current drive to reform the maritime industry that will make us break the chains of defeat in subsequent elections.
POF: An instrument of oppression, impoverishment
By Segun Musa
The CRFFN Board and our amiable Honorable Minister of Transport need to task their brains on creating a sustainable genuine economy that would fund this agency if the Federal government does not have the capacity for funding, instead of taxing the already overtaxed citizens.
POF is nothing but an instrument to further impoverished our young struggling practitioners.
Interestingly, I am the architect of the birth of this nomenclature during the days of misunderstandings between my association and a sister association at the airport on how to mutually enhance fair sharing to benefits our members contributing from proceeds of their hard-earned incomes from their daily jobs to the association’s pool account at the airport.
Anybody having a contrary idea of how this came into the limelight should come out and give details.
When the CRFFN, through the POF sponsors that thought of taking our members’ contributions to the board for fair sharing would be the solution, I resisted it because the government does not share revenue proceeds with any private sectors and whoever is advocating to gazette such is only deceiving you because it would never last if at all you are able to jump-start it.
I would like to use the airport as a case study.
Our members contributed token voluntarily out of their hard-earned profits to save for rainy days to the association’s pool. Interestingly, we have independent members and some multinationals that do not contribute because it is voluntary with no compulsion.
While serving as a Chairman at the airport, I pulled out my association from the arrangement and stopped the collections as a protest and all this is to justify that the arrangement is nothing but voluntary.
The essence of this arrangement is to ensure that members in need can get adequate supports from the pool they had contributed or contributing to when they had the opportunity at the time/points of needs
The same way governments of most viable countries of the world do support their working citizens when they are out of work to cater for a few of their immediate urgent needs.
This is not to justify that all leaders managing the funds always do justice to the disbursements
Unfortunately, few individuals out of self-interest decided to use the strength of the Federal government to hijack public voluntary contributions without minding what becomes of the contributors at the end of the day nor thinking of what becomes of the associations with this great lofty idea, especially during the painful time of needs?
It is on records that only at the airport that we do not carry exercise books around begging for assistance at the point of emergency because we have proactive leaders managing the pool effectively on behalf of their members.
I am not unaware that some Freight forwarders at the Seaports who have not put similar measures in place might not be able to comprehend or feel the pains of few stakeholders that have selflessly put this system in place at the airport for the benefits of members.
I think that seems to be the singular reason why some of them are in full support of the fraudulent POF collection.
I singularly believe it is better for associations to work with their feeder cadres at chapter levels to generate more voluntary contributions for the benefits of their associations and their members than allowing the government to legitimise illegality and hijack little efforts from the chapters just because of sweet promises that would never come to reality (speaking from experiences in engagements with the government)
The brain behind the formation of CRFFN
Is to gather think-tank groups in the holistic freight transport businesses which include all cluster groups like shipping liners, transporters, freight forwarders, supply chain managers, terminal operators, customs brokers, maritime lawyers, airliners, aviation ground handlers, GSAs, Vessel charterers, Vessel Owners, Courier operators and all other relevant operators to developed framework ingredients on documents guided by the established articles of the CRFFN Act to enhance knowledge acquisition, professionalism, promotions of high ethical standards in business and profession, fostering synergies amongst players and above all to elevate Nigeria to the high level of global best practices and standards in the committee of nations.
With the aforementioned, where does tax collection comes in?
I have painfully listened to few self-centered individuals trying to smuggle out or twist some articles of the CRFFN Act to mean collections of tax for the government for the purpose of financing budgets and it is most unfortunate how people blackmail our government as an insensitive regime.
This is not only shameful for private business people that should be concentrating on their core competencies rather than devoting their precious time looking for how the government would take advantage of already over-taxed citizens to steal from them again just for a token commission.
If CRFFN has lost relevance and felt that the only way to survive is to tax members rather than task their brains, I would gladly like to be the first person to move for the cancellation of this Council if we can not ensure we put like-minds in the board with full knowledge of what the CRFFN Act stands to achieved as a primary priority and stop this misplacement of priority.
I can not ignore some great members of the CRFFN Board and some Management staff who are doing wonderfully well to carry on the crusade of professionalism despite all odds and especially lack of sufficient funding from the federal government.
These great minds are definitely not on the same page with few who are trying to use the platform to exploit innocent citizens that do not know their rights.
Once again, any terminal or warehouse operator that stops the operations of freight forwarders at any gateway would not only pay for damages but would also be blackmailed globally.
Why we await our amiable Honorable Minister of Transport and his colleagues Hon. Minister of Finance, Auditor General of the Federation and Attorney General of the federation who were allegedly said to have promoted, sponsored, prepared and endorsed the RED Gazette to enforce fraudulent revenue collections to come and defend the insensitive gazette publicly, we can call on all our critical stakeholders to see this collection as wishful thinking.
Segun Musa is a politician, notable freight forwarder and public commentator
ANLCA’S War of Attrition, NAGAFF’S Gains
For over three years now, the Association of Nigerian Licenced Customs Agents(ANLCA) has been embroiled in a senseless war of attrition.
A needless war that is being fuelled by greed, selfishness, avariciousness, and self-preservation.
An intractable war that has had an incalculable toll and dealt unimaginable damage to the corporate image of the supposedly oldest and most influential freight forwarding group in Nigeria.
A war that has greatly eroded the public goodwill, confidence, and acceptability of the association.
In the course of the imbroglio, ANLCA has shrunk in influence, fame, quality and status.
The association has flittered away its reputation which it had built over 67 years of its existence on the altar of egocentric squabbles.
During this mindless fight for the soul of the association, ANLCA has lost the respect, clout, public sympathy and empathy that have made it the once preferred freight forwarding group.
As a matter of fact, the endless war that has polarised and factionalised the association has rendered the once vibrant, articulate, respected and most sought after group weak, ineffective, lame, broken, decapitated and degraded.
But the loss of ANLCA is the gain of NAGAFF.
NAGAFF, founded and driven by Dr Boniface Aniebonam, a sagacious, audacious, shrewd, visionary, intelligent mobiliser and administrator, has cashed in on the prostrate ANLCA to become the emerging octopus in the freight forwarding industry.
NAGAFF, a child of necessity founded 22 years ago, has scooped and leveraged on all the goodwill, fame, clout, respect, and public acceptability that the ANLCA has unwittingly flittered away.
Aniebonam has been able to build NAGAFF into a stronger, respectable, acceptable and visionary brand which has completely taken the initiatives away from the hapless, clueless, weakened and distabilised ANLCA whose hitherto vibrancy has been blunt by years of internal wrangling.
Little wonder the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) last week appointed Aniebonam, popularly referred to as Founder, as its ambassador in the freight forwarding industry.
The position confers Aniebonam the privilege of representing and working with the NDLEA in its propagation of anti-drug crusade among freight forwarders.
To us, the President of ANLCA, whose association is the oldest and supposedly most influential, should have been best suited for this coveted position.
But when the association has been rendered prostate and clueless due to years of ego war, it was not a surprise that Aniebonam, the Founder and Pathfinder of NAGAFF, the emerging force in the freight forwarding industry, will readily be the preferred recipient.
As nature abhors a vacuum, NAGAFF has continued to take the initiatives to fill the gap created by the slumbering and fumbling ANLCA.
It was NAGAFF that took the initiative of fighting the excessiveness of the service providers to protect the hapless freight forwarders from the extortionist tendencies of these capitalists.
Aptly dubbed NAGAFF 100 percent compliance team, the anti-corruption arm of NAGAFF, the association has been able to checkmate most of the excesses of the service providers.
An attempt by ANLCA to replicate this noble initiative by NAGAFF expectedly fizzled out like candlelight in the wind due to lack of purpose.
Not only that, NAGAFF recently hosted Barrister Hassan Bello, the retired and highly celebrated Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council, to a lavish reception meant to honour him for his selfless service to the industry during his eight-year tenure.
These and many more initiatives taken by NAGAFF have made the association the most active and proactive freight forwarding group in the industry.
Unfortunately, all this while when NAGAFF was building, rebranding and consolidating, ANLCA, a supposedly oldest freight forwarding group, was gradually receding in importance, fame, status and influence as its supposed leaders who are expected to build the association are busy destroying the legacy left by its founding fathers in their inordinate ambition to appropriate the spoils of office to themselves.
Like most industry stakeholders who are already tired and irritated by the endless war in ANLCA, we shall no longer advise the gladiators to sheath their swords because such admonition has not been heeded in the past.
Rather than heed the warnings and advice of concerned stakeholders, the gladiators seemed more determined as they continued to get more incensed and enraged with one another, appearing hell-bent on destroying the great legacy they inherited from the founding fathers.
However, the ANLCA warlords should realise that every jab they throw at one another will only make NAGAFF stronger, more influential, more popular and prosperous until it finally drowns the war-torn association in its own act of foolery.
But if the ANLCA gladiators could engage themselves in self- retrospect that their act is capable of destroying the great association that was once the envy of other rival associations and end this factional war, maybe, just maybe, ANLCA could manage to salvage and recover some of the gains it has conceded to NAGAFF.
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