Nigeria has hinted that it would quit the Maritime Organisation for West and Central Africa (MOWCA) over what it termed the disregard for the rules of procedure regarding the eligibility of candidates nominated for the position of the secretary general of the organisation.
Nigeria also pointed out yesterday that no member states has supported the MOWCA as it has done with over $5 million in the past 10 year even though the organisation did not employ a single Nigerian.
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 the MOWCA in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, which was made available to journalists in Abuja by the Director of Press, Ministry of Transportation, Mr. Eric Ojiekwe.
The statement reads in parts: "It is sad and most depressing given Nigeria's ardent and consistent support for the 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 election of the secretary general of the 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 the MOWCA as presented by the MOWCA's 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 and Benin were 60 years and 62 years old respectively.
"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."
The Nigeria's delegation pointed out that "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 five years in the case of Guinea and seven years by Benin, does not portend well for the reputation and operation of the MOWCA as a rule-based organiaation."
The statement further pointed out that no member states has supported the MOWCA as much as Nigeria, as the records could show that it has contributed over $5 million in the past 10 years with the organisation not employing a single Nigerian.
"It should be noted that not a single citizen of Nigeria has ever been employed in the MOWCA, and that this is the first time that Nigeria has contested for the position of the secretary general of the organisation even though it is an uncontested fact that it is essentially the contributions of Nigeria that has sustained the organisation over the years," Nigeria said.
The Nigeria team of committee of expert that is led by Mr. Mfon Usoro, thanked the Nigerian Ambassador to the Republic of Congo, Ambassador Omar Suleiman, for "being you - always 100 per cent committed to serving Nigeria and your fellow citizens. Your experience in the maritime sector and familiarity with the terrain of diplomacy was self evident."
She, however, thanked the Minister of State, Ministry of Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Ruqayyah Saraki, and the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, for their support and synergy.
Usoro also encouraged Dr. Adaliku, 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 of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Bashir Jamoh, expressed disappointment over the election but expressed sincere belief that under the leadership of the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, and the Minister of State, 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 organisation, for the first time, the position of the secretary general remained vacant," the statement read.