Women: are they really weaker vessels?

Gender discrimination and inequality is an inbuilt problem with the culture, tradition and socialization of many people in many different societies. The issue of gender inequality – disrespect of women, neglect of their rights and privileges, not allowing them play leadership roles at the macro and micro level of society – has always troubled me. In fact, I planned the topic of this article about three years ago while as a sophomore undergraduate in the university I studied with keen attention, the gender inequality in my school.

A university which ought to be the bedrock of politics, sanity and everything good in a country. In the student union government of the school, the highest a lady could aspire to was the post of vice president, while the presidential slot was normally reserved for a guy. I noticed even the brightest, most popular and strongest (in terms of personality) ladies on campus never aspired to be President of the union. From the talks I’ve heard with some of them who were my friends, I discovered they never even gave it a thought. Throughout my nearly five years sojourn, no lady ever became President or even contested for the post! While trying to understand this problem, I looked at the macro-level of the Nigeria state and found out the highest position a woman holds these days is deputy governor of a state. In fact, it has been like that for a while.

The last and first ever female governor Nigeria has ever had was the Anambra state former governor, Dame Virgy Etiaba (2nd November 2006 – 13th June 2007). It must be noted that her instatement came not as result of popular election votes but the impeachment of Governor Peter Obi by the state legislature for alleged gross misconduct. She had to transfer power back to Obi three months later when the appeal court nullified the impeachment. She was deputy governor to Obi. The last female speaker of the House of representatives, Patricia Olubunmi Etteh was booted out of office due to embezzlement and mismanagement of funds, a move which has further reduced the chances of a woman leading that lower chamber soonest. That period in 2007 marked one of the most scandalous periods in the National Assembly history in recent years. At the last general elections in March 28, 2015, the only woman who contested for President was Prof. Remi Sonaiya of my alma matar (OAU) and she was snubbed by Nigerians, judging from the number of votes she got. It was unclear whether fellow women even believed in her candidacy. When she declared interest in contesting, I had been expecting cheers and encouragements to come from the women in the country but as it seems, these days most ladies are only interested in ‘being a lady’ and not bothering for those ‘men-like’ vocations like politics and pure sciences.

Since independence in 1960, no woman has ever been Senate President, only one woman has been Speaker of the House of Reps and she was impeached within months! No woman has ever been president or vice president of the country. The 8th National Assembly ushered in by the March 28, 2015 general elections has only 7 female senators elected into the upper chamber, the remaining 102 seats occupied by men! Only Anambra, Oyo and Ondo (maybe one or two others) elected female speakers for their Houses of Assembly between 2011-2015. At the grassroot level, in 774 local governments in Nigeria, I know no female chairman/chairperson.

I must say the idea of ‘weaker vessel’ which I’ve heard for the umpteenth time nauseates me down to my spleen! For how could you call women weaker vessels when 22 women are currently the Presidents and leaders of their countries worldwide. Liberia, Brazil, Argentina, South Korea, Lithuania, Bangladesh, Denmark, Jamaica, Kosovo, Trinidad & Tobago, Poland, Chile etc. How then can women be weaker vessels? Dr Joyce Hilda Banda was also President of Malawi while the strong Benazir Bhutto also led Pakistan, a country with an estimated population of over 191 million, making it the world’s sixth-most-populous country. How could I not mention the effervescent Indira Gandhi, a woman who was as gracious as her father and probably gave modern India an even stronger leadership than her father. What of UK’s ‘Iron Lady’, Margaret Thatcher and Israel’s Golda Meir (both prime ministers), not to mention reigning UK monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. In the areas of academics, sociologists Jane Adams and Ida Wells Barnett made magnificent impacts in the lives of people, they’ve made lasting marks that even men cannot erase!

Some women are physically stronger and bigger than their husbands. There has been Customary and High court cases in Nigeria whereby the wife was alleged to have beaten the husband mercilessly in a domestic fight. It’s then clear from the foregoing that woman being a weaker vessel to man is not only a misnomer but a deliberate assault on the sensibilities of right thinking women. The Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) made an outline recently of a typical day for a man and woman in a family that grows both food and cash crops.

A typical woman’s day:
“Rise first
Kindle fire
Breast feeds the baby
Fixes breakfast
Washes and dresses the children
Walks one kilometer home
Feed livestocks
Washes cooking utensils
Washes clothing
Breast feeds the baby
Walk a kilometer to the field with food for husband
Walks a kilometer back home
Walks a kilometer to her field
Waters field
Breast feeds baby
Gathers firewood on way home
Walks a kilometer to fetch water
Walks a kilometer home
Kindles fire
Prepares meal
Breast feeds baby
Puts house in order
Goes to bed last”

A typical man’s day:
“Rises when breakfast is ready
Walks a kilometer to field
Works in field
Walks a kilometer home
Eats when wife arrives with food
Works in the field
Walks one kilometer home
Rests, eats, walks to the village to visit other men
Goes to bed
Summons wife to comfort him”

Personally I believe this outline to be a little over-blown in terms of the works women do, because in most families it is actually the other way round. In this modern era and with economic stress everywhere, the husbands practically break their backs to provide for the family while some wives shop and hang out with friends. Some housewives take at least two naps before the end of the day and still sleep at night. This being clear, we still can’t afford to undermine or belittle the impact of women in every home. A friend of mine once remarked that “women are the reasons why the world is enjoyable, without them there’s nothing to live for.”

According to Professor Ademola Popoola, ”gender refers to the socially and historically constructed relations between men and women, as opposed to their biological differences. The social relations of gender are dynamic and change over time, being shaped by cultural, social, political and economic relations of power that affect males and females in different ways of all societies.” The Beijing declaration which was made during the 4th world conference of September 1995 was majorly to “advance the goals of equality, development and peace for all women everywhere in the interest of humanity.”

The divine purpose for which God created woman (as seen in Genesis 2: 18-24) was to serve as companion and certainly not as a slave or subordinate to man. Also, she (a woman) is to serve as instrument of ensuring the continued survival of the human race through procreation. Thus, in the Epistles of St. Paul though, man is described as head of the family, same man is enjoined to love his wife “just as Christ loved the church and sacrificed Himself for her to make her Holy” (see Ephesians 5:20-21)

If there would be a change in gender inequality, there has to be a change in the way women view themselves too. I’ve met some very young women whose self-esteem and pride are so terribly low that they believe they must always be with a man and do degrading things to maintain the man before their lives can be ‘glorious.’ A lot of ladies are like the lady in Eddie Murphy’s 1988 award-winning comedy film “Coming to America” where the prince met his betrothed wife for the first time on his 21st birthday. While getting to know her, he asked her a few questions which the poor lady simply replied in a way that shows how many women have been taught to think (a sad reality). Eddie Murphy acted the character named Hakeem, the sole heir to the throne of a wealthy African kingdom named Zamunda, in West Africa. The conversation goes thus:

Hakeem: What do you like to do?
Lady: Whatever you like!

Hakeem: What kind of music do you like ?
Lady: Whatever kind of music you like?

Hakeem: Do you have a favorite food?
Lady: Yes

Hakeem: Ok, what’s your favorite food?
Lady: Whatever food you like? (is anyone laughing yet?)

Hakeem: Are you saying you’d do anything I say you should do?
Lady: Yes, your highness!

Hakeem: Ok, bark like a dog!
Lady: (she starts barking)

I remember the speech of legendary American female rapper, MC Lyte in 2013 when she was given the ”I am Hip Hop” at the BET awards. She finished off her acceptance speech by saying, “women if you want to be treated like a queen, act like one!” That’s perhaps the most important instruction to women that I’ve ever heard in my life. So cogent and apt that statement is, I’ve ceased to forget it in two years. For how can a woman rightfully hope to be treated with respect if she doesn’t respect herself first? How can a woman hope to be seen for her intelligence and not as a sexual object if she keeps dressing provocatively? How can a woman hope to win a public election if she allows herself to be compromised? How can a woman hope to become President of a nation if she doesn’t herself aspire and determine to break the jinx and go against the odds? Women, the ball is in your court.

Sources:

Popoola, Ademola (Professor) (2015) Of Women, Law and gender justice: The rhetorics, the realities, and the African perspectives, University of Ilorin annual public lecture 2015

Rulers.org

WorldStatesmen.org

Regnal Chronologies

http://www.jjmccullough.com/charts_rest_female-leaders.php

http://news2.onlinenigeria.com/nigeria-article/404112-list-of-nigerian-senate-presidents-and-house-speakers.html

Kindly follow me on twitter @tom_olas

The evil the West did to my Continent

*Author’s headnote

I have a small theory, which I’ve been trying to experiment upon with myself as much as I could, without confusing bias with value- isn’t that what Max Weber took most of his time to tell us? My theory is that, the best time to write a critical political article is when you’ve not had breakfast (and lunch together), for the hunger in your stomach brings the right anger you need to write. Hunger + intellectual anger equals to genius, a great piece of artistic creation! Note that the kind of anger I’m working with, not a violent one but the type that stresses your intellectual reservoir and makes you study & work on things you’d normally let slide. This I’ve further proven this morning as I write this article which started as a little chit-chat on the phone with my sister who’s in faraway Abuja. I hope you all feel my pain as you read. Enjoy.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Sir Edmund Burke

The West assassinated our brightest intellectuals and left us with despots, kleptocrats, thieves and rogues. Christopher Okigbo died in the war-front while trying to defend his region during the Biafran war (Nigerian Civil war 1967-1970). He was killed in Nsukka, the university town where he first started out as a poet, and which he had vowed to defend with his life. Chrisopher Okigbo is widely regarded as one of the most important African poets to write in English. What was he doing at the war-front? What changed his mindset? These are the questions that baffles the mind. Okigbo rejected the first prize in African poetry awarded to him at the 1965 Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar, declaring that there is no such thing as a Negro or black poet. A step some other African poets like Dennis Brutus followed later by also rejecting awards that they felt degraded the idea of pan-africanism and encroached the dignity of mankind.

Dennis Brutus’s book, Sirens, Knuckles and Boots, published in Nigeria while he was in jail received the Mbari Poetry Prize, awarded to a black poet of distinction, but Brutus turned it down on the grounds of its racial exclusivity – similar to what Okigbo had done. What did these intellectuals see that most Africans don’t get to see? They had seen the truth behind the international establishments. In December 2007, Brutus was to be inducted into the South African Sports Hall of Fame. At the induction ceremony, he publicly turned down his nomination and said; “It is incompatible to have those who championed racist sport alongside its genuine victims. It’s time—indeed long past time—for sports truth, apologies and reconciliation.” Why would Brutus reject South Africa’s biggest honour in sports? It is because he knew he would have sold his birthright by receiving that award. The initiators were trying to, mildly and latently, lure him to their side. Brutus was aware of this and immediately rejected the Honors, something most people would jump at. Miss such an opportunity to be more famous and decorated? No way! Those who offered the award too probably underestimated him & thought he would fall for such miniature temptation of vainglory.

Patrice Émery Lumumba (2 July 1925 – 17 January 1961) wasn’t so lucky to laugh last over his European enemies. He was murdered in cold blood, he alongside two of his closest allies were gunned down at night by British and Belgian firing squad and his body dissolved with sulphuric acid so his corpse wouldn’t be found! Patrice, a Congolese independence leader, was the first ever democratically elected leader of the country. He was the leader of the mainstream Mouvement National Congolais (MNC) party, Lumumba played a pivotal role in campaigning for independence from Belgium. What was the crime of this very young and bright Congolese politician? He was an unrepentant pan-Africanist and wanted to unite Congo. You will feel nothing but contempt due to the brutality of the Belgians policemen and UK forces, including the American CIA who also wanted Lumumba dead. It was alleged that the ‘almighty’ President Dwight D. Eisenhower of USA had ordered Lumumba’s death. In an interview on Belgian television in a program on the assassination of Lumumba in 1999, Belgian police commissioner Gerard Soete displayed a bullet and two teeth that he boasted he had saved from Lumumba’s body. The question I keep asking myself is, ‘what were Belgian, British and American forces still doing in Congo, a year after the latter’s independence?’ Was the independence real or was it just a ploy to throw the country into chaos and stay around to kill the greatest citizens of the country? I need answers. Patrice is a national hero. He’s to Congo what Awolowo and Nkrumah are to Nigeria and Ghana!

Same thing happened in Burkina Faso with the young military captain, Thomas Sankara who was murdered at 37 years old in a coup led by the dictator, Blaise Compaoré. Look at the similarity in character with Patrice Lumumba, Sankara was a Pan-Africanist, young and vibrant, revolutionary and charismatic. He renamed Upper Volta to what is now known as Burkina Faso (which means ‘Land of Upright Man’) today. Sankara seized power in a 1983 popularly supported coup at the age of 33, with the goal of totally eliminating corruption and the dominance of the former French colonial power. What a vision Sankara had for his nation. He had begun achieving profound results in agriculture, health sector, economy, education, corruption, political stability and security when his life was cut short in a French-backed coup led by Compaoré. Sankara led by example, not as a dictator would compel you normally. Sankara outlawed female genital mutilation, forced marriages and polygamy, while appointing women to high governmental positions( when last did you see a military dictator who respected women?).

What happened after France backed Blaise Compaoré to assassinate and shatter Sankara’s body with bullets during the coup? Compaoré immediately reversed the nationalization policy of Sankara, overturned nearly all of Sankara’s policies, rejoined the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to bring in “desperately needed” funds to restore the “shattered” economy. Compaoré’s dictatorship then remained in power, until it was overthrown by popular protests in 2014 when he attempted to amend the constitution to further extend his 27-year term! As I pointed out from the start, these powerful western powers always spearhead the assassination of every intellectual, visionary African leader then, place an empty-headed imbecile in their stead. Look at the conspiracy and Africans keep playing into their hands. Even today, most youths don’t care to know what happened before their time. If you don’t know, how do you prevent being manipulated further? We cannot afford to make the mistakes our parents made. In Congo, Belgium replaced Lumumba with the Congolese politician they paid to hold the coup, Mobutu Sese Seko who reigned for 32 years of corruption and absurdity! As Edmund Obilo rightfully posits on one of his radio talks on Splash FM 105.5, “sadly, corruption continues to be a state policy in Africa.”

To win the Caine Prize or get well-known international publishers like Bloomsbury to publish your work, one must write slanderous things about his own people, major bad themes about Africa such as maternal mortality, the slave trade e.t.c. Then make sure you look haggard in the book cover picture. In this way, you get published real fast, maybe even get nominated for an international award or two. A little background check on the book cover pictures of Chimamanda Adichie and Buchi Emecheta proves me right. Its the same for any other writer who wants to sell on those international platforms. To win the Booker prize or Caine prize you more or less have to sell-out in some ways to the organizers. Want to know what I mean by selling-out? Go find out whether past winners who are of African origin actually continue to stay in their fatherland. They always leave. Background check on Chimamanda Adichie, Tope Folarin, Ben Okri, Buchi Emecheta, Okey Ndibe & co. proves me right.

What led to the sudden irritation? Chinua Achebe kept talking about the ills in the political and economic scene in Nigeria, but he refused to stay here. He eventually died overseas. The tragedy of post-imperialism and neo-colonialism is when Africans begin to refer to the hardships in their lives as a result of them being Africans. Humankind face hardships generally, be you Canadian, Asian or African. I see Africans playing to the hands of the imperialists if they feel nothing good can come out of themselves because of their origin. Merely reading Chimamanda’s Americanah brings to fore the racism which still exist in our world today. Who has seen Donald Trump’s comments on Barack Obama lately? We all thought racism died with Martin Luther King Jnr. And Malcolm X but the joke’s on us all because racism didn’t died, it still exist in our world today.

We have to bring the reading culture back quickly. Its direly needed. How do we question these forces if we don’t study our history books? There are still thousands of African heroes like Patrice Lumumba and we rarely hear anything about them because they were killed and buried secretly, even the records and legacies of them are near-dead due to the efforts of subsequent shenanigan governments and these powerful Western forces. Now, if the West killed all of Africa’s best minds, do they have the moral or actual right to turn-around & say Africans are monkeys who can’t think, who can’t rule themselves? What did the West leave Africa after centuries of slavery? The truth is, the West killed our best brains & left us with despots like Mugabe, Charles Taylor, Mobutu Sese Seko e.t.c. Now they’ve established all these ineffective charity organisations to bring aid to Africa, such as USAID, IMF, WHO, UNESCO, ICJ… It’s only because they want us to be in eternal servitude to them. Their plan has always been to subjugate Africa. United Nations officials were present in Congo when Patrice Lumumba was being brutalized, the knew about it but did nothing. Lumumba had personally sent for them at the beginning of the crisis. They never cared. They ruined Africa & now they’re giving us a ‘helping hand?’ UN are currently donating food to war-torn South Sudan. Ask, the war-fares were supplied by who? Who backed the rebel opposition? The same countries with the largest stakes at the UN!!! The aids United Nations claim to be giving Africa now, visionary African leaders like Thomas Sankara made more progress at local generation of these same things before being murdered in coups backed by France, Belgium, USA, Britain & co.

France backed up Blaise Compraore to plan his coup & assassinate Thomas Sankara in Burkina Faso. Thomas Sankara was a soldier like no other, he wrote three solid books. He was an intellectual par excellence. The Nigerian civil war was made possible by western powers, USA, Spain, Belgium, France, Russia, Czech, Germany to name a few e.t.c. France was a major supporter of the Biafran secessionists, supplying arms and ammunitions. Funny enough, these same France later sent aid to starving children of the war-torn region. They even came down to train General Ojukwu’s lieutenants. Now, the same countries can’t send their soldiers to help Nigeria fight Boko Haram! Do you smell foul? These powerful western countries could back a region to secede from the rest of Nigeria but won’t send troops to Nigeria to help terminate minor Boko Haram in just about five states in Nigeria. Even South African mercenaries fought for Biafra, where are they now? The West can’t wait to see Africa explode from the gun-powder keg they’ve set and all true Africans must rise up!

Sources:

Priebe, Richard K. “Christopher Okigbo” Microsoft Encarta 2009. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation.

Wikipedia

http://m.democracynow.org/stories/11555

Kindly follow me on twitter @tom_olas

The evil the West did to my Continent

*Author’s headnote

I have a small theory, which I’ve been trying to experiment upon with myself as much as I could, without confusing bias with value- isn’t that what Max Weber took most of his time to tell us? My theory is that, the best time to write a critical political article is when you’ve not had breakfast (and lunch together), for the hunger in your stomach brings the right anger you need to write. Hunger + intellectual anger equals to genius, a great piece of artistic creation! Note that the kind of anger I’m working with, not a violent one but the type that stresses your intellectual reservoir and makes you study & work on things you’d normally let slide. This I’ve further proven this morning as I write this article which started as a little chit-chat on the phone with my sister who’s in faraway Abuja. I hope you all feel my pain as you read. Enjoy.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Sir Edmund Burke

The West assassinated our brightest intellectuals and left us with despots, kleptocrats, thieves and rogues. Christopher Okigbo died in the war-front while trying to defend his region during the Biafran war (Nigerian Civil war 1967-1970). He was killed in Nsukka, the university town where he first started out as a poet, and which he had vowed to defend with his life. Chrisopher Okigbo is widely regarded as one of the most important African poets to write in English. What was he doing at the war-front? What changed his mindset? These are the questions that baffles the mind. Okigbo rejected the first prize in African poetry awarded to him at the 1965 Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar, declaring that there is no such thing as a Negro or black poet. A step some other African poets like Dennis Brutus followed later by also rejecting awards that they felt degraded the idea of pan-africanism and encroached the dignity of mankind.

Dennis Brutus’s book, Sirens, Knuckles and Boots, published in Nigeria while he was in jail received the Mbari Poetry Prize, awarded to a black poet of distinction, but Brutus turned it down on the grounds of its racial exclusivity – similar to what Okigbo had done. What did these intellectuals see that most Africans don’t get to see? They had seen the truth behind the international establishments. In December 2007, Brutus was to be inducted into the South African Sports Hall of Fame. At the induction ceremony, he publicly turned down his nomination and said; “It is incompatible to have those who championed racist sport alongside its genuine victims. It’s time—indeed long past time—for sports truth, apologies and reconciliation.” Why would Brutus reject South Africa’s biggest honour in sports? It is because he knew he would have sold his birthright by receiving that award. The initiators were trying to, mildly and latently, lure him to their side. Brutus was aware of this and immediately rejected the Honors, something most people would jump at. Miss such an opportunity to be more famous and decorated? No way! Those who offered the award too probably underestimated him & thought he would fall for such miniature temptation of vainglory.

Patrice Émery Lumumba (2 July 1925 – 17 January 1961) wasn’t so lucky to laugh last over his European enemies. He was murdered in cold blood, he alongside two of his closest allies were gunned down at night by British and Belgian firing squad and his body dissolved with sulphuric acid so his corpse wouldn’t be found! Patrice, a Congolese independence leader, was the first ever democratically elected leader of the country. He was the leader of the mainstream Mouvement National Congolais (MNC) party, Lumumba played a pivotal role in campaigning for independence from Belgium. What was the crime of this very young and bright Congolese politician? He was an unrepentant pan-Africanist and wanted to unite Congo. You will feel nothing but contempt due to the brutality of the Belgians policemen and UK forces, including the American CIA who also wanted Lumumba dead. It was alleged that the ‘almighty’ President Dwight D. Eisenhower of USA had ordered Lumumba’s death. In an interview on Belgian television in a program on the assassination of Lumumba in 1999, Belgian police commissioner Gerard Soete displayed a bullet and two teeth that he boasted he had saved from Lumumba’s body. The question I keep asking myself is, ‘what were Belgian, British and American forces still doing in Congo, a year after the latter’s independence?’ Was the independence real or was it just a ploy to throw the country into chaos and stay around to kill the greatest citizens of the country? I need answers. Patrice is a national hero. He’s to Congo what Awolowo and Nkrumah are to Nigeria and Ghana!

Same thing happened in Burkina Faso with the young military captain, Thomas Sankara who was murdered at 37 years old in a coup led by the dictator, Blaise Compaoré. Look at the similarity in character with Patrice Lumumba, Sankara was a Pan-Africanist, young and vibrant, revolutionary and charismatic. He renamed Upper Volta to what is now known as Burkina Faso (which means ‘Land of Upright Man’) today. Sankara seized power in a 1983 popularly supported coup at the age of 33, with the goal of totally eliminating corruption and the dominance of the former French colonial power. What a vision Sankara had for his nation. He had begun achieving profound results in agriculture, health sector, economy, education, corruption, political stability and security when his life was cut short in a French-backed coup led by Compaoré. Sankara led by example, not as a dictator would compel you normally. Sankara outlawed female genital mutilation, forced marriages and polygamy, while appointing women to high governmental positions( when last did you see a military dictator who respected women?).

What happened after France backed Blaise Compaoré to assassinate and shatter Sankara’s body with bullets during the coup? Compaoré immediately reversed the nationalization policy of Sankara, overturned nearly all of Sankara’s policies, rejoined the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to bring in “desperately needed” funds to restore the “shattered” economy. Compaoré’s dictatorship then remained in power, until it was overthrown by popular protests in 2014 when he attempted to amend the constitution to further extend his 27-year term! As I pointed out from the start, these powerful western powers always spearhead the assassination of every intellectual, visionary African leader then, place an empty-headed imbecile in their stead. Look at the conspiracy and Africans keep playing into their hands. Even today, most youths don’t care to know what happened before their time. If you don’t know, how do you prevent being manipulated further? We cannot afford to make the mistakes our parents made. In Congo, Belgium replaced Lumumba with the Congolese politician they paid to hold the coup, Mobutu Sese Seko who reigned for 32 years of corruption and absurdity!

To win the Caine Prize or get well-known international publishers like Bloomsbury to publish your work, one must write slanderous things about his own people, major bad themes about Africa such as maternal mortality, the slave trade e.t.c. Then make sure you look haggard in the book cover picture. In this way, you get published real fast, maybe even get nominated for an international award or two. A little background check on the book cover pictures of Chimamanda Adichie and Buchi Emecheta proves me right. Its the same for any other writer who wants to sell on those international platforms. To win the Booker prize or Caine prize you more or less have to sell-out in some ways to the organizers. Want to know what I mean by selling-out? Go find out whether past winners who are of African origin actually continue to stay in their fatherland. They always leave. Background check on Chimamanda Adichie, Tope Folarin, Ben Okri, Buchi Emecheta, Okey Ndibe & co. proves me right.

What led to the sudden irritation? Chinua Achebe kept talking about the ills in the political and economic scene in Nigeria, but he refused to stay here. He eventually died overseas. The tragedy of post-imperialism and neo-colonialism is when Africans begin to refer to the hardships in their lives as a result of them being Africans. Humankind face hardships generally, be you Canadian, Asian or African. I see Africans playing to the hands of the imperialists if they feel nothing good can come out of themselves because of their origin. Merely reading Chimamanda’s Americanah brings to fore the racism which still exist in our world today. Who has seen Donald Trump’s comments on Barack Obama lately? We all thought racism died with Martin Luther King Jnr. And Malcolm X but the joke’s on us all because racism didn’t died, it still exist in our world today.

We have to bring the reading culture back quickly. Its direly needed. How do we question these forces if we don’t study our history books? There are still thousands of African heroes like Patrice Lumumba and we rarely hear anything about them because they were killed and buried secretly, even the records and legacies of them are near-dead due to the efforts of subsequent shenanigan governments and these powerful Western forces. Now, if the West killed all of Africa’s best minds, do they have the moral or actual right to turn-around & say Africans are monkeys who can’t think, who can’t rule themselves? What did the West leave Africa after centuries of slavery? The truth is, the West killed our best brains & left us with despots like Mugabe, Charles Taylor, Mobutu Sese Seko e.t.c. Now they’ve established all these ineffective charity organisations to bring aid to Africa, such as USAID, IMF, WHO, UNESCO, ICJ… It’s only because they want us to be in eternal servitude to them. Their plan has always been to subjugate Africa. United Nations officials were present in Congo when Patrice Lumumba was being brutalized, the knew about it but did nothing. Lumumba had personally sent for them at the beginning of the crisis. They never cared. They ruined Africa & now they’re giving us a ‘helping hand?’ UN are currently donating food to war-torn South Sudan. Ask, the war-fares were supplied by who? Who backed the rebel opposition? The same countries with the largest stakes at the UN!!! The aids United Nations claim to be giving Africa now, visionary African leaders like Thomas Sankara made more progress at local generation of these same things before being murdered in coups backed by France, Belgium, USA, Britain & co.

France backed up Blaise Compraore to plan his coup & assassinate Thomas Sankara in Burkina Faso. Thomas Sankara was a soldier like no other, he wrote three solid books. He was an intellectual par excellence. The Nigerian civil war was made possible by western powers, USA, Spain, Belgium, France, Russia, Czech, Germany to name a few e.t.c. France was a major supporter of the Biafran secessionists, supplying arms and ammunitions. Funny enough, these same France later sent aid to starving children of the war-torn region. They even came down to train General Ojukwu’s lieutenants. Now, the same countries can’t send their soldiers to help Nigeria fight Boko Haram! Do you smell foul? These powerful western countries could back a region to secede from the rest of Nigeria but won’t send troops to Nigeria to help terminate minor Boko Haram in just about five states in Nigeria. Even South African mercenaries fought for Biafra, where are they now? The West can’t wait to see Africa explode from the gun-powder keg they’ve set and all true Africans must rise up!

Sources:

Priebe, Richard K. “Christopher Okigbo” Microsoft Encarta 2009. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation.

Wikipedia

http://m.democracynow.org/stories/11555

Kindly follow me on twitter @tom_olas

The Nigerian Maritime law (3)

NIWA’s mission statements, among other things, is to make Nigeria the leader in inland water transportation development and management in Africa. To provide regulatory, economical and operational leadership in the nation’s inland waterways system and develop infrastructural facilities for efficient inter-modal transportation system in line with global best practices that is safe, seamless and affordable. To improve and develop the inland waterways for safe navigation. Also, to provide alternative mode of transportation for the evacuation of economic goods and persons and to execute the objectives of national transport policy as they concern inland waterways.

NIWA issue licenses for inland navigation, piers, jetties and dockyard; examine and survey inland watercraft and shipyard operators, grant permit and licenses for sand dredging, pipeline construction, dredging of slot and approve designs and construction of inland river crafts. As part of its transport services, NIWA is equipped with a number of vessels, enabling it to operate ferry services (for economic good and passengers) and run cruise boats (for tourism and leisure). Many of the boats and ferries such as MF Oron, MF Onitsha and W.B. Jebba have been fully refurbished and deployed on their respective routes. With these exercises, NIWA has fulfilled one of its key functions of operating safe and efficient water transportation. NIWA’s wide range of engineering services includes construction of inland river-ports and jetties. NIWA also undertakes capital and maintenance dredging, and engineering, design of river ports etc.
As part of NIWA’s marine services, they remove and receive derelicts, wrecks and other obstructions from inland waterways; clear water hyacinth and other harmful weeds and NIWA has embarked on aggressive clearing of water hyacinth in Epe, Igbokoda and other northern waterways, boat construction, repairs and dockyard services (see the publication by Shehu Abubakar, The Weekly Trust, on Saturday, 24 March, 2012 and that of Weir Centre For Africa on April, 1, 2012). NIWA is responsible for hydrological and hydrographic surveys, river chart production and cartography, river mapping, aerial survey and underwater survey. Come ferry routes such as Calabar-Oron and Lokoja were successfully surveyed. Preliminary survey on River Niger has also been conducted in preparation for the dredging of the river. NIWA provides hydraulic structures for river dams, bed and bank stabilization, barrages, install and maintain lights, buoys and all navigational aids along all water channels and banks.
As general services, NIWA collects river tolls, acquire, lease and hire properties; produce, publish and broadcast navigational materials such as notices, hydrological year books, river charts and river maps; carry out consultancy and contractual services represent the Government of Nigeria at national and international commissions that deal with navigation and inland water transportation and also advise government on all border matters that relate to the inland waters. NIWA pursues an ecologically sound inland water transportation policy. Due consideration is given to the well-being of aquatic life as well as the clearing of water hyacinth and other harmful aquatic weeds. NIWA is also authorized to “carry out environmental impact assessment of navigation and other dredging activities within the inland water and its right of ways.” NIWA handles marine pollution control on the inland waterways and the declared Right of Ways (R.O.W). There is need to strengthen the capacity of the Authority in the area in terms of equipment and manpower.
In the area of port development, Lokoja Port work is in progress. Degema Port- certified awaiting Executive council approval. Onitsha Port- under tendering process. Baro Port- under tendering process. Okrika Port- certified project cost is in due process & awaiting ministry’s presentation to Federal Executive Council (FEC). Oguta Port- certified and awaiting Ministry’s presentation to Federal Executive Council (FEC) for award. Owerrinta Jetty- certified and awaiting Ministry’s presentation to Federal Executive Council (FEC) for award. Since inception in 1988, NIWA has executed the following projects:
• Charting and buoying of Lower River Niger River ( Lokoja-Onitsha);
• Satellite imagery of a section of River Niger;
• Charting and buoying of Upper Niger River (Zamare-Yelwa/Yauri-Nigeria/Benin border);
• Procurement of water weeds control equipment e.g. (“Water master Classic III”);
• Clearing of aquatic weeds/water hyacinth in the inland navigable waterways of Lagos, Ondo, Ogun, Rivers, Borno, Benue, Baga, Yelwa-Yauri and Cross River States;
• Construction of booms at Zamare-Rofia route (Kebbi State) for the control of water hyacinth and other aquatic weeds.

The Authority is currently combating the water hyacinth/ aquatic weeds menace in a number of areas within the country such as: Calabar, Yauri, Igbokoda and Lagos. Mechanical clearing is on at six different zones in the South-East and South-South part of the country. NIWA awaits the delivery of 2 nos AVC 101 swamp devil and 1 no complementary Harvester AH-620-T34 as part of our logistics requirement for clearing of water hyacinth and aquatic weeds nationwide.

On Friday, the 17th day of May, 2013, Hajiya Illa Maryam Ciroma who hails from Biu area of Borno state was appointed the new Managing Director of NIWA. Her name was made public by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation following orders from President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Among the other responsibilities in front of her is the quest to concession Onitsha and other river ports has been on the drawing board for years. In fact, the idea to concession Onitsha river port popped up before its rehabilitation and formal unveiling by President Goodluck Jonathan on August 30, 2012. Since then the processes have been mired in bureaucratic bottlenecks. The lackadaisical attitude of those saddled with the responsibility has not helped matters. The present state of the multi-billion Onitsha River Port Complex, Anambra State is pathetic. This is due to the fact that the river port holds a lot of promise. It was this promise that propelled its conception, construction and formal unveiling. Described as Nigeria’s largest river port, the Onitsha River Port Complex is complete with new facilities, warehouses and equipment such as cranes and forklifts.
Yet, nearly one year after its formal unveiling by President Jonathan in the presence of the high and mighty in the society, the facilities are lying idle at the mouth of River Niger. What a monumental waste of scarce resources! Will the new managing director of the authority change the story of Onitsha river port or will it continue to be business as usual?
The intention to concession Onitsha River Port did not start today. Already, a consultant to midwife the exercise has been appointed to begin work on the outline business case (OBC) otherwise known as feasibility study.
One of the tasks staring the helmsman of NIWA in the face is the maintenance dredging of River Niger, which is crucial to the attainment of the primary goal of embarking on the multibillion naira project in the first place. This is not unconnected with the fact that without maintenance dredging, the billions of naira sunk into the dredging of River Niger will be like water poured inside a basket; an exercise in futility. Another reason why maintenance dredging must be carried out without further delay is siltation of the river bed. When this happens, it will not only impede safe navigation but also make nonsense of the entire dredging project. It is instructive to note that Ciroma has promised to make water transportation more attractive in her tenure.

Nigerian Shipping Policy
The Nigerian Shipping Policy can be defined as the totality of a set of government principles, plans of actions, statements of ideals and strategies proposed or adopted for the promotion and protection of our national interest in the field of shipping. Decree 10 of 1987 tagged “National Shipping Policy Decree” is part of the Nigerian Government’s strategic enactment in pursuance of her shipping interests.
Prior to Decree 10 1987, the main laws affecting shipping were the Constitution which gave the Federal Government responsibility for all matters concerning overseas trade and shipping; the laws of the Federation 1958 which among others adopted the British Carriage of Good by Sea Act 1924; the Ports Acts 1958, the Shipping Navigation Act 1958. After independence the Marina Insurance Act 1961 and the Merchant Shipping Act 1962 were adopted from British laws, while the Ports Act 1958 and Merchant Shipping Act 1962 were amended. Other Acts that were enacted before Decree 10 of 1987 include the Admiralty Jurisdiction Act 1963. In the decade immediately after the Nigeria Civil War, maritime related legislation covered port operations, River Basin Development Authorities and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council Decree of 1987. Other legislation before Decree 10 includes:
Carriage of Good by Sea Act 1958
Ports Act 1958
Shipping and Navigation Act 1958 (repealed by MSA 1962)
Ports Amendment Act 1961 (repealed by Decree No. 30 of 1971)
Admiralty Jurisdiction Act 1963
Oil in Navigable Waters Act 1968
Flags of Nigeria Ships Act 1968
Lagos Port Operations (Special Provisions) Act 1971
Merchant Shipping (Amendment) (No.2) Act 1978
Amendment No. 9 Act 1978
Pre-shipment Inspection of Imports Act 1978
Nigerian shipping industry relative to the major shipping nations is often referred to as being in its infant stage. There are two key Parastatals that exercise hegemony over the registration of vessels in Nigeria. These are: The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and Nigerian Maritime Administration of Safety Agency (NIMASA).
Over the years, these two authorities have undergone rigorous, meticulous, painstaking and thorough restricting by successive governments to augment their effectiveness. It expected that having commenced the registration of ships in the early sixties, reasonable growth is expected both in the administration and tonnage of Nigerian flagged vessels. Several factors contribute to the operation of an attractive registry including legislation, acceptability of flag by demand side of shipping, classification societies and P & Is, access to finance, low interest rate on ship finance, access to cargo, elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers to providers of shipping services, sophisticated insurance liability regime, political stability and reasonable security.
The Nigerian shipping industry is currently faced with a plethora of problems, the root cause of which stems out of:
Usurpation of powers by maritime agencies.
Clash of authority between maritime regulatory agencies.
The unending struggle for supremacy by these bodies.
Lacunas in the laws relating to shipping matters.
Nepotism and Corruption and host of other encumbrances.
The Nigerian ship registry is poised or is in point of fact, undergoing a major reform as some of the critical success factors have been satisfied while a confrontational approach is being attempted at resolving the other encumbrances. Part of the legislation promulgated by the National Assembly demonstrates the understanding by Government that a firm legislative regime is the substructure on which a competitive ship registry is built.
In this treatise, I shall attempt a brief, succinct, detail, doctored appraisal of the laws setting up NIMASA and NIWA focusing on the registration and licensing of vessels operating in Nigerian Inland Waterways with an aim at establishing if any the existence of a clash of authority between the two bodies and a basis for this occurrence and also attempt at proffering ways by which the jurisdiction of both parastatals can be streamlined.
The development of a sea port in Nigeria commenced in the mid 19th- century in the era of explorers and traders. Although limited initially to opening up the Lagos Lagoon, it however resulted in the opening of ports at Apapa and Port Harcourt. This led eventually to the establishment of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) in the year 1954 to maintain the ports as well as load and discharge cargo. The NPA commenced operation on 1st of April 1992; it made remarkable progress and on the 15th of June, 1992, the Nigeria Port Plc was incorporated. However, in consideration of its full government ownership while recognizing its commercial status, the company in October 1996, reverted to its former name-Nigerian Ports Authority.
The Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) today is a wholly Government owned organization under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Transport with the responsibility of providing specific ports and harbor services for the country’s maritime industry.
The Statutory duties and major functions of the company of the company are:
Provision and operation of cargo handling and quays facilities.
Pilotage and towage services.
Supply of water and fuel to vessels at anchorage or mooring buoys.
Repairs and maintenance of vessels.
Dredging and contract dredging of waterways.
Navigational lighting of the ports.
Other ancillary services.
In pursuance of government’s efforts to ensure the efficiency of public enterprises, the operations of Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) became fully commercialized in May, 1992.
Today, there are eight (8) major ports under the management of the Nigeria Ports Authority:
Apapa Port-Lagos, Lagos State Roro Port-Lagos, Lagos State
Tin Can Island Port-Lagos, Lagos State Container Terminal –Lagos, Lagos State
Port Harcourt Port-Port Harcourt, River State
Delta Ports- Warri, Delta State
Calabar Ports-Calabar, Cross River State
Federal Lighter Terminal, Onne, Delta.
Since 1st April, 1955 when it commenced operation, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has made remarkable progress and presently accounts for about 99.27 per cent by volume and 95 per cent by value of the total import and exports of the country.
Nigerian Ports Authority operates under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Transportation with the responsibility of providing specific ports and habour services for the country’s maritime industry. Today Nigerian Ports Authority controls 8 major ports excluding oil terminals with a cargo handling capacity of 35 million tones per annum.
Consequently upon the vantage location of the country within the West and Central African sub-region, Nigeria offers transit shipment services to her West Coast neighbors and therefore serves as the gateway to her land-locked neighbors.

CLASH OF AUTHORITY BETWEEN NIMASA AND NIWA
On the 31st of July, 2001, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) published in the Daily Sun Newspaper a “Rejoinder” to the effect that there exist conflicts of authority between her the defunct National Maritime Authority which together with JOMALIC is today known as NIMASA.
The notice, which was published to all ship owners/operators within Nigerian Inland and Territorial Waters read thus:
“for the purpose of clarity the functional and statutory responsibility of National Inland Waterways Authority among others as provided under Section 9, (g), (h), (j), (k), (l) of Decree No. 13 of 1997 establishing the Authority is to exclusively approve, registered and control all jetties piers, crafts, barges, boats and ship operators, vessels including the registration and control of ALL VESSELS and other crafts outlined in the publication operating or plying INLAND WATERWAYS IN NIGERIA”.

WATERWAYS IN NIGERIA

The Authority, therefore, consider the notice as contained in the publication as an attempt by NMA to usurp the exclusive statutory powers/functions of the Authority relating to the registration of Vessels, Boats and Crafts plying the INLAND WATERWAYS OF THE DECLARED RIGHT OF WAYS OF THE NIGERIAN WATERWAYS.
By virtue of Decree No. 10 of 1987 establishing NMA under sections 4 and 5, which provides for the functions and special functions, none of the listed vessels, boats and crafts plying INLAND WATERWAYS OF NIGERIA is mentioned as part of their functions. The Authority therefore calls upon the general public especially the stakeholders in the maritime industry to ignore the notice calling for registration and physical inspection of craft, vessels, barges, piers, etc, plying inland waterways by the management of NMA, as such acclaimed powers are not within the specific jurisdiction and statutory responsibility of NMA in direct relationship with Declared Right of Way of the Declared Waterways”.
In addition, a memorandum from the Ministry of Transport, addressed to NIWA, was an attempt by the Ministry to resolve the conflict between the two bodies. The memorandum read thus:
We refer to the Streamlining Circular issued by this office on the 1st of April 2000 regarding the above captioned subject matter.
We note with regret that in spite of the said circular, conflicts still occur between the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and National Maritime Authority (NMA) particularly in respect of the imposition and collection of Tariffs, especially as it relates to charges for Dredging, Shoreline Utilization and Land for Spoil Dump along the Right of Way of the declared Waterways, the Creeks and Lagoons.
This conflict has been relied upon by several Companies operating in the respected areas for not honouring the obligations to relevant Government Agencies and the consequence has been the potential loss to Government of billions of naira. Consequently, for the avoidance of any doubt whatsoever, I hereby direct that charges for the following activities, that is:
(i).Dredging
(ii).Shoreline Utilization along Creeks and the Right of Way of declared Waterways; and;
(iii).Land for Spoil Dump along the Right of Way of the declared Waterways; shall only be levied and collected by the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) in accordance with the Tariff of the Authority and approved by this office on the 16th day of March, 1998.
(4).All Companies and persons involved in the activities listed above are hereby notified of this directive, which should be complied with accordingly and immediately. Consequently, all field officers of various Parastatals under the Ministry are hereby directed to refrain from imposing or collecting the charges specified above as same are to be collected only by NIWA in accordance with Section 13 of the National Inland Waterways Authority Decree of 1997.
(5).All Companies operating within the area are hereby advised to pay all outstanding charges imposed on them for the above named activities by NIWA not later than 30th March, 2003.
(6).The Federal Ministry of Transport shall not hesitate to apply the severest sanctions on non-compliance with this directive.
Thus far, it is explicit that there had been conflict between the two agencies. And having examined the statutory provisions establishing them, the following findings are very helpful for the purpose of clarity and direction.
In the first instance, Section 9, (g), (h), (i), (j), (k), and (l) of Decree No. 13 of 1997 states the functional and statutory responsibility thus:
(g).issuing and control licensing for inland navigation, piers, jetties, dockyards;
(h).examining and surveying inland water crafts and shipyard operations;
(i).granting of slots and crossing of waterways by utility lines, waters intake, rock blasting and removal;
(j).granting licenses to private inland waterway operators;
(k).approving designs and construction of inland river crafts;
(l).approving and controlling all-
(i).jetties, dockyards, piers within the inland waterways;
(ii).advertising within the right-of-way of the waterways.
While Section 22 of the NIMASA Act 2007, states the function of NIMASA thus:
(i) The functions and duties of the Agency shall- be to :
(a).pursue the development of shipping and regulate matters relating to merchant shipping and seafarers ;
( b). administering the registration and licensing of ships ; .
(c). regulate and administer the certification of seafarers;
(d). established maritime training and safety standards;
(e). regulate the safety of shipping as regards the construction of ships and navigation;
(f). provide search and rescue service;
(g). provide directions and ensure compliance with vessel security measures;
(h). carry out air and coastal surveillance;
(i). control and prevent marine pollution;
(j). provide direction on qualification, certification, employment and welfare of maritime labour;
(k). develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate
the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure;
(I). enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003;
(m). perform port and flag state duties;
(n). receive and remove wrecks;
(o). provide National Maritime Search and Rescue Service;
(p). provide Maritime Security; and
(q). establish the procedure for the implementation of conventions of the

22.- (2).Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the Agency shall :
(a). inspect ships for the purposes of maritime safety, maritime security,
maritime labour and prevention of maritime pollution;
(b). make enquiries as to shipwrecks or other casualties affecting ships, or as to
charges of incompetence or misconduct on the part of seafarers in relation to such casualties;
(c). administer policy for the development of shipping in general;
(d). provide on request services to the maritime industry on a commercial
basis;
(e). establish and manage maritime institutions for the training of officers of the Agency;
(f). generally to perform any other duty for ensuring maritime safety and
security or do all matters incidental thereto;
(g). provide consultancy and management services relating to any of the
matters referred to in this subsection; and
(h). perform any other prescribed functions relating to or incidental to any of
the matters referred to in this subsection.

ROUNDTABLE ON THE STRENGTHENING NIGERIA’S MARITIME RIGHTS: IMPERATIVES FOR ACHIEVING GLOBAL STANDARDS

Nigeria as a nation is endowed with a vast coastline as well as navigable inland waterways and is strategically placed on the Atlantic Coast of West Africa. For it to reap a bountiful reward from its maritime industry in promoting interregional and international trade, its maritime resources have to be properly harnessed. Nigeria is the sixth largest producer of crude oil in the world and also has some world’s most prolific gas reserves which have only been recently exploited. The country is also rich in natural resources and agricultural produce. Most of these products are exported to international markets by sea where they are sold and foreign currency earned to ensure the country’s developmental objectives. A virile and well organized maritime industry is therefore very important to facilitate Nigeria’s international trade.
In view of the foregoing the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, under the auspices of its Olisa Agbakoba Centre for Maritime Law, organized a Roundtable on the Strengthening Nigeria’s Maritime Rights: Imperatives for Achieving Global Standards. Participants and discussants at the roundtable were from the Nigerian Navy, the Nigerian Customs, the shipping companies, the academia, the Maritime Arbitration Association, lawyers and members of the public. Perspectives for the Roundtable include: Overview of the legal and Institutional Framework of the Nigerian Maritime Industry, the Maritime Industry in Nigeria as a Tool for Economic Development, the Role of the Nigerian Maritime Industry in promoting International Trade, Promoting Domestic and international Arbitration in the Maritime Industry, New and Emerging Developments in International Maritime Regulation and Issues and Current Trends in the Global Shipping Market.
Observations:
The Roundtable made the following observations:
1. At the international level, the regulation of shipping is done through the International Maritime Organization, (IMO), which Nigeria became a member in 1962. In order to achieve its objectives, the IMO has promoted and adopted about 54 Conventions and Protocols, which every ratifying State is obliged to put into effect by making its requirements part of its national law and also put in place proper legislative and administrative machineries to ensure its enforcement.
2. The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) , formerly known as the National Maritime Authority (NMA) is the agency of the Federal Government established for the regulation of maritime activities and the implementation of both the international conventions relating to the maritime industry which Nigeria has adopted and the local laws and regulations on maritime activities.
3. With the passage of the Merchant Shipping Act of 2007 (MSA), which repealed and replaced the former Merchant Shipping Act of 1962, most of the International Conventions and Treaties on shipping which have been passed by the IMO and acceded to by Nigeria were incorporated in the new law, thereby making Nigeria’s maritime laws at par with what obtains internationally.
4. The role of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) as the administrator of all the ports in Nigeria is critical to the efficient operation of Nigeria’s maritime industry and the promotion of international trade.
5. Over the years, decay in port infrastructure lack of regular dredging of channels and berths, and poor cargo handling facilities have meant Nigerian ports have become uncompetitive internationally and hampers international trade.
6. The recent privatization and concessioning of some of our ports by the government have brought notable reforms such as economic growth, encouragement of foreign direct investment, bountiful financial returns to the Federal Government, better efficiency in Apapa Port cargo handling, etc,. However, several Nigerian ports are still underutilized such as Calabar, Warri and Port Harcourt, while the ports in Lagos are over utilized and frequently witness ports congestions.
7. The issue of safety and security of vessel on our territorial waters and ports deserves to be addressed. Nigeria has the second highest record of piracy and armed robbery incidents in the world coming only behind Somalia. This has resulted in increased freight and insurance charges. The problem of kidnapping in Nigeria also negatively affects foreign investment in the country.
8. The proper functioning of the Inland Container Depots (ICDs) depends crucially on a well developed multimodal transport system combining the various modes of transportation of sea, land and rail. The overdependence on road haulage of containers as a result of the collapse of our rail system and the impenetrable inland waterways are undesirable.
9. There are too many bottlenecks characterizing the clearance of goods which can be discouraging to importers and foreign investors.
10. Part of the activities of the Navy is the enforcement of international instruments like the law of the sea, maintaining standards of shipping and navigation in the Nigerian waters, provision of hydrographic maps and constant patrol of the maritime environment. The Navy personnel provide security at the shipping environment, especially because of the problem of kidnapping in the Niger Delta, which has caused most of the industries in the area to relocate.
11.The ports are the gateway for inward and outward movement of goods. The Customs service has a lot to do regarding what happens in the maritime industry. Customs has a role as collector of revenue and also functions in terms of security. The Eastern and Western Marine Unit of the Navy, have the functions of preventing smuggling through the waterways and examining cargo brought in. They have also contributed in the economy by preventing dumping of goods.
12.Nigeria is no longer a ship owning Nation. The Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) has gone into liquidation, and presently, all the vessels that ply our waters, are all foreign vessels. A ship owner or merchant in one country wants to be sure that the same set of laws, rules and regulations which regulate his operations in his country which he is familiar with will equally apply when he sails his ship to another port.
13.The acute dearth of vessels owned, built, and managed by Nigerians has made the implementation of some of the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003, especially on waiver and license, impossible and also resulting in neglect in development of manpower capacity.
14. Maritime arbitration offers the option of privately resolving international maritime disputes outside the national court system. Its advantages include: attraction of foreign direct investment, sustenance of high level of local direct investment, cost effectiveness, timeliness, privacy, confidentiality, etc.

Recommendations:
At the end of the Roundtable, the following recommendations were made:
1. The Federal Government through the appropriate agencies should look into the causes of bottlenecks that characterize clearance of goods inour ports which can be quite discouraging.
2. It is important that security in the maritime environment is given serious attention in order to bring to an end the bad image the country has acquired in the international forum. In addition an immediate solution should be found to abate the incessant kidnappings going on in the country.
3. The problem of incessant congestion of the Lagos Apapa Port, while other ports like Calabar, Warri and Port Harcourt remain underutilized requires urgent attention.
4. Conditions for grant of waiver and licence should be made more stringent to discourage the easy grant of same to, at least wholly owned and crewed foreign vessels. There is no need to require Nigerian owned vessels to pay any fees for waivers in respect of manner and place of building.
5. While controversy is raging on the Maritime Security Agency (MASECA) 2009 Bill, the National Assembly should take a quick decision on whether or not to pass the Bill bearing in mind that it is not the name or designation of the agency charged with the responsibility for improving the security of our territorial waters that matters. What matters is how well the body is equipped and empowered to carry out its functions effectively.
6. There is need for a review of the Cabotage Act, 2003 in order to make it practicable. In addition, all the laws affecting maritime in Nigeria should be interfaced and harmonized so as to appropriately complement each other.
7. The National Inland Waterways Authority should be more alive to its statutory duties, and dredge our waterways to allow for large ships to ply them.
8. Government should revamp the entire rail system in Nigeria, so that rail transportation will take its place as the preferred means of transporting bulk cargo to and from the Inland Container Depots (ICDs).
9. To improve on maritime arbitration, the following were recommended:
a. States should repeal the old arbitration laws and enact new laws as was done by Lagos State, which enacted the Lagos State Arbitration Law, 2007 to meet up with international standards.
b. Our courts need to apply the provisions of the New York Convention and also appreciate that time is of essence in arbitration matters.
c. There is need to improve on the perception of corruption in our system which undermines the appointment of Nigerian arbitrators in cases involving foreigners.
d. Our infrastructures like airport facilities, environment, roads, electricity, etc. need to be given appropriate face-lift.

References;
http://www.niwa.gov.ng,
http://www.nimasa.gov.ng, http://www.newswatchngr.com,
National Inland Waterways Act 1997,
Nimasa Act 2007,
Coastal and Inland Shipping(cabotage) Act 2003,
Merchant Shipping Act 2007,
The Nigerian Tribune (Friday May 10, 2013 publication),
Daily Sun, Monday, July 31, 2000,
Thisday Newspaper,
Vanguard Newspaper,
Weircentreforafrica.wordpress.com,
Communique on Roundtable on The Strengthening Nigeria’s Maritime Rights: Imperatives for Achieving Global Standards; By Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Lagos, Nigeria, 13th July, 2010,

Voyage: A Journal of National Maritime Authority, Vol. 3, No. 1 October- December, 2002,
Voyage: In-House Journal of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety (NIMASA), July- September, 2007.

The Nigerian Maritime Law (2)

In the same vein, as indeed is the case with other progressive Registries formerly under British dominion, the South African Ship Registration 1998, also admits as registrable South African-owned ship which “is owned by three or more persons as joint owners of the ship, where the majority of those persons are South African nationals; or is owned by two or more persons as owners in common, where the majority of the shares in the ship are owned by South African nationals”.
NIMASA Act 2007 clearly follows these international standards which every-thing being equal will definitely encourage and attracts more tonnage.

REGISTERS MAINTAINED BY NIGERIAN SHIPPING REGISTRY
Register for Merchant Ships
Register for Ships on Bareboat Charters
Register for Ships under Construction
Register for Fishing Vessels
Register for FPSO and FSO
Register for Licensed Ships below 15 gronn tons
Vessels registered in any the Registers listed above will be entitled to fly the Nigerian flag as Nigerian vessels in the manner specified in the MSA. In some Administrations, the Register for Merchant Ships is further divided into three Registers viz, Register for Ships owned by citizens of the flag country and Register for Vessels jointly owned by flag citizens and foreigners. That system is very good for ease and accurate statistic. Vessels registered under Register for Bareboat Charters would normally have official numbers distinct from official numbers for regular registration.

REGISTRATION OF CABOTAGE VESSELS
Quite apart from the central ship registry which grants flag status to a ship, NIMASA Act and the MSA recognize and require compliance with Cabotage Act and its Registrations. Section 17(3) of MSA and Section 34(4) of the NIMASA Act both expressly acknowledge that vessels registered under the Nigerian flag and intending to operate within the coastal and inland waters of Nigeria must comply with the Cabotage Act and its regulations. Cabotage Act requires mandatory registration of cabotage vessels and the owning companies with NIMASA.
NIMASA Act under S. 34(4) has finally put paid to the debate whether a Nigerian flagged vessel is subject to the Cabotage Act. Put differently, whether a vessel having been registered in the Nigerian Ship Registration Office does have a license to trade both in international waters and Nigerian coastal without complying with requirements of the Cabotage Act. Section 34(4) reproduced hereunder is very clear and requires no elaboration “A ship registered under this section shall comply with the requirements of the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act 2003 if such ship is to operate in Nigerian coastal and inland waterways”. Similarly, the MSA under S.17(3) states that:
“Notwithstanding the provision of this Act relating to registration and licensing of ships, any vessel intending to operate within the coastal and inland waters of Nigeria shall obtain operational permits from the relevant agencies of Government”.
The Coastal and Inland (Cabotage) Shipping Act 2003 which is the specific legislation on coastal and inland trade requires that “permit” to be in the form of a registration certificate in the Special Register for Cabotage Vessels.
Numerous provisions under the Cabotage Act particularly sections 22 and 29 requires the Registrar of Ships to maintain a Special Register for Cabotage Vessels and Ship owning Companies. The Revised Guidelines on Implementation of Cabotage Act issued in April 2008 emphasis further those vessels whether or not registered under the Nigerian flag the Special Register for Cabotage. The Guidelines further states that the following Cabotage Registers are maintained in the Nigerian Ship Registration Office:
Special Register for Cabotage (Nigerian Wholly Owned Vessel)
Special Register for Cabotage (Bare-boat Chartered Vessel)
Special Register for Cabotage (Joint Venture Owned Vessel)
Special Register for Cabotage (Fully Foreign Owned Vessel) and
Special Register for Cabotage (Exempted Vessels)
The import of this is that the Nigerian Ship Registration Office quite apart of the central register discussed in the preceding paragraphs should have another set of register for cabotage vessels for the relevant category. The categories of Cabotage Registers specified in the Cabotage Guidelines covers the whole spectrum of ownership structure of vessels currently engaged in coastal trading.

CABOTAGE REGISTRATION AND WAIVER APPROVALS
It is pertinent to mention that what makes a vessel or company eligible to carry on cabotage shipping in Nigeria is the Cabotage Registration Certificate and not the Waiver required to be granted by the Minister where necessary. Obtaining a waiver if need be is simply a step towards eligibility for registration of vessels and participation in coastal shipping. The operative language in the Waiver provisions of the Cabotage Act (see sections 9-11) are “duly registered”, a qualification the Senate in their wisdom inserted during consideration of the Cabotage Bill at the Senate marine technical committee stage. The Cabotage Guidelines under the relevant sections on procedure for registration makes this point but for ease of enforcement, all waiver applications must be accompanying documents to the main application for registration of vessels in the Special Cabotage Register. That way a copy would be submitted to the Registrar of Ships who, upon indication from the Cabotage Unit that all eligibility criteria have been satisfied would simply enter the name of the Vessel and its owner into the submit a separate application for registration after obtaining waiver. Waiver approvals should therefore not be submitted to applicants directly but forwarded to the Ship Registration Office for registration of the vessel in the appropriate Cabotage Register. This procedure which was introduced sometimes this year to the Cabotage Unit if instituted will cure the erroneous belief that Waiver by itself without more entities a vessel to trade in the cabotage trade area and the Special Cabotage Register will at the same time have lots of entries.

REGISTRATION PROCEDURE
Applications for the Registration of Nigerian Ships are made to the Registrar of Shipping in Lagos. Nigeria does not operate an open registry and therefore a Nigerian Consul is not permitted to accept registration documents and cannot issue certificates. However, the Registry may temporarily accept facsimile copies of documents supporting an application for registration but it is assumed that the originals will follow shortly thereafter in order for the vessel to be registered.
The Nigerian Registry of Ships makes a distinction between provisional and permanent registration. Provision Registration may be granted to a ship to enable it to sail and operate within territorial waters, pending the issuance of a permanent certificate of registration.

DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED TO SUPPORT APPLICATION FOR SHIP REGISTRATION
The under listed documents are required by the Registrar of ships to support an application for Registration.
If it is a corporate applicant:
Its letter of application on its company letter headed paper;
Completed Ministry of Transport Registry Forms;
Certificate of Incorporation;
Memorandum and Article of Association;
Current list of Directors of the Company (Form C07);
Current Tax Certificate of the Company and its directors respectively;
Deletion Certificate from last registry (that is if the ship was previously registered in another country);
Tonnage Measurement Certificate issued by a Nigerian registered surveyor;
Builder’s Certificate if it is a new ship;
Bill of Sale if the ship is purchased second hand;
Application for the allotment of International Code signal in Form Registry 19;
Declaration of the Ship’s name;
Payment of Registration fees (Depending on size of the ship);
Present location of ship and its employment;
Copy of last Radius Safety Certificate, Load Line Certificate and Safety Construction Certificate;
If the application is made by an individual owner he will be required to submit the following documents in addition:
Declaration of an individual owner or transferee;
Particulars of citizenship;
Personal Income Tax Clearance Certificate;
Some maritime practitioners opine that before a ship can be registered in Nigeria it must be classified as a member of the International Association of Classification Societies. Experience suggests that although this can be an advantage, it is certainly not a mandatory requirement.
SHIP REGISTRATION FEES
The fees provided under the MSA are obsolete and therefore are revised from time to time by way of circulars, to reflect current economic indices. The current fees are those recommended by the ministry of Transport in 1995 even though it is projected that a new schedule of fees will come into force before the end of May 2000. Nevertheless the existing fees of 1995 remain effective until further notice. All fees are payable to the Registry and quoted in Nigerian currency.
Existing Fees in Respect of Ship Registry:
Part IX
Fees for Change of Name of a ShipN500.00
For a ship under 600 tonnesN500.00
For a ship 600 tonnes but under 1,600N500.00

For a ship 1,600 tonnes but under 3,000N500.00
For a ship 3,000 tonnes but under 5,000N500.00
For a ship 5,000 tonnes but under 6,000N500.00
For a ship 6,000 but under 10,000N500.00
For a ship 10,000 tonnes but under 20,000N500.00

Nigerian Licensed Fees
For issue of Original LicenceN500.00
For under 50 tonnesN500.00
For a ship 50 tonnes but under 100 tonnesN500.00
For a ship 100 tonnes but up to 200 tonnesN500.00
For every 100 tonnes or a part of 200 tonnesN500.00
For each endorsement on a licenceN500.00

Part X
On the Initial Registry and Transfer of Registry
Ship of 500 GMT and underN1000.00
500 GRT but under 700 GRTN2500.00
700 GRT but under 1,000 GRTN3500.00
1,000 GRT but under 2,000 GRTN5000.00
For every 500 tonnes or part of 500
tonnes in excess of 2,000 tonnesN200.00

BAREBOAT CHARTER REGISTRATION
The Nigerian Registry of Ships grants recognition to Bareboat Charters however before such ships can be registered, a notarized Power of Attorney must be tendered to the Registrar of Ships authenticating the arrangement. In addition the Registrar must be given full proof that during the period of the Charter, the first registration has been suspended as Nigerian law does not patently recognize dual registration. A deletion certificate from the last registry of entry will suffice as evidence of suspension.
However, the Government Inspector of Shipping (GIS) is known to give approval to Chartered-in foreign ships to operate within Nigerian territorial waters and this is renewable yearly. These ships may during the period of their licence, continue to fly the flag of their home registries. It has also been recommended that Nigeria adopt the system known as “PARDON” which was adopted in Mexico; whereby Bareboat chartered vessels may be registered in the Nigerian Register and allowed to enjoy all the privileges of Nigerian Registration i.e. Cargo Reservation, Low Cost Bunker, which all privileges would be lost and the difference in the cost of the Bunker shall be reimbursed. This system would definitely increase Nigeria’s Maritime tonnage without the necessity of going through the initial capital outlay of outright purchases.
The following documentation is required in support of the application:
Vessel Age;
Current Tax Clearance Certificate of the Company and its Directors
Survey Report indicating Condition of Ship
Copies of all Statutory Certificates
Charter Party
Provisional Registration Certification
Certificate of Build for newly Built Ships
Corporate Applicant must submit Memorandum and Articles of Association.
Names and address of the Charterer’s shareholders.

EFFECT OF REGISTRATION ON MARITIME MORTGAGES IN NIGERIA
Maritime mortgages are created in Nigeria by submission of the Mortgage agreement, and letter of consent to Ship registry. Subsequent mortgages can also be created on the same vessel and they must also be registered. Registration of mortgages and liens is paramount because priority is determined by the date of registration, as opposed to the date of creation of the mortgage.
A registered mortgagee of a ship dispose of the ship in respect of which is registered once his power of sale becomes exercisable provided he is first in turn. If there is a prior registered lien or mortgage he can only exercise his power of sale through an order of a Court of competent jurisdiction. In Nigeria, the appropriate Court of jurisdiction vested with maritime and an admiralty matter is the Federal High Court.

LEGAL REGULATORY FRAMEWORK OF NIMASA
Shipping is governed by international rules and regulations that are incorporated ino national laws for such conventions to be enforceable. The present management has recognized the poor status of domestication of IMO conventions by Nigeria and resolved to correct this anomaly from the onset. A legislative advocacy team was set up in the agency to coordinate and ensure that all steps are taken within and outside the agency and the National Assembly to facilitate the enactment of bill establishing the agency and comply with all relevant IMO and other international conventions. The agency has attained the unprecedented record of legislative success since its existence thus: The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Bill have been passed into law by both houses of the National Assembly. International conventions on the Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage 1999 is now an Act of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; International conventions on the establishment of an International Fund for Oil Pollution Damage (IOPC) ’92 is now an Act of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; and International convention for the prevention of pollution from ships as modified by the protocol of 1976 (MARPOL 73/78) has been passed by the National Assembly and are awaiting presidential assent.

NIWA:
NIWA was formerly the Inland Waterways Department (IWD), which was the oldest Operational Department in the Ministry of Transport from 1956 up to late 1997. It is a statutory body and is 100% owned by the Federal Government of Nigeria as a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Transport. NIWA was established through Decree No. 13 of 1997 and operations commenced fully in 1998 under the supervision of a Managing Director and four (4) General Mangers. The head office is located at Adankolo New Layout, Lokoja, Kogi State. The Authority is responsible for approximately 3, 000 kilometers of navigable water course in its natural form. With this length, Nigerian inland waterways are considered to be some of the longest in the world, and include the River Niger, the third longest river in Africa, which is about 1,271.3km in length.

The Decree establishing NIWA clearly spells out the objectives, powers, functions and management structure of NIWA. It also has ten (10) Area Offices and a liaison office at Maritime House, Abuja. The Area Offices are: –
• Lokoja Area Office;
• Lagos Area Office;
• Calabar Area Office
• Port-Harcourt Area Office;
• Makurdi Area Office;
• Onitsha Area Office;
• Warri Area Office;
• Yelwa/Yauri Area Office;
• Igbokoda Area Office; and
• Baga Area Office.

The Decree spells out the major business activities of NIWA is to: –
– Improve & develop Inland Waterways for Navigation.
– Provide an alternative mode of transportation for evacuation of economic goods & persons.
– Execute the objectives of the National Transport Policy as they concern NIWA.
– Issue and control licenses for inland navigation, piers, jetties, dockyards etc.
– Operate ferry services within the inland waterways system.
– Finance capital and maintenance dredging.
– Undertake hydrological and hydrographical survey.
– Approve and control all jetties and dockyards.
– Undertake acquisition, leasing and hiring of properties etc.
The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) was established by Decree No. 13 of 1997 with a clear mandate to manage Nigeria’s vast inland waterway resources. The Decree vests in NIWA the power of exclusive management, direction and control on the Nigerian inland waterways. This power is exercised on Nigeria’s 3000km navigable waterways from the Nigeria/Niger and Nigeria/Cameroon borders to the Atlantic Ocean. Nigeria is blessed with a river configuration very suitable for North-South movement of people and goods. Toward the development of the Nigerian inland waterways, NIWA encourages private investments on the inland waterways in pursuit of government’s policy of Public Private Programme (PPP).
According to the section 2 of the National Inland Waterways Decree, the objectives of the Authority shall be to; (a)improve and develop inland waterways for navigation, (b)provide an alternative mode of transportation for the evacuation of economic goods and persons, and (c)execute the objectives of the national transport policy as they concern inland waterways. Meanwhile, among the functions of the Authority as enacted in Part II, sections 8 & 9 of the same Decree;
(a)        provide regulations for inland navigation;
(b)        ensure the development of infrastructural facilities for a national inland water
ways network connecting the creeks and the rivers with the economic centres using the river-ports as nodal points for intermodel exchange; and
(c)        ensure the development of indigenous technical and managerial skill to meet the challenges of modern inland waterways transportation.

Other functions and powers of the Authority shall be to:
 
(a)        undertake capital and maintenance dredging;
(b)        undertake hydrological and hydrographic surveys;
(c)        design ferry routes;
(d)        survey, remove, and receive derelicts, wrecks and other obstructions from in land waterways;
(e)        operate ferry services within the inland waterways system;
(f)        undertake installation and maintenance of lights, buoys and all navigational aids along water channels and banks;
(g)        issue and control licences for inland navigation, piers, jellies, dockyards;
(h)        examine and survey inland water crafts and shipyard operators;
(i)         grant permit and licences for sand dredging, pipeline construction, dredging of slots and crossing of waterways by utility lines, water intake, rock blasting and removal;
(j)         grant licences to private inland waterway operators;
(k)        approve designs and construction of inland river crafts;
(l)         approve and control all-
(i)   jetties, dockyards, piers within the inland waterways;
(ii)  advertising within the right-of-way of the waterways:
(m)      reclaim land within the right-of-way;
(n)        undertake the construction, administration and maintenance of inland river-ports and jetties;
(o)        provide hydraulic structures for river and dams, bed and bank stabilisation, barrages, groynes;
(p)        collect river lolls;
(q)        undertake the production, publication and broadcasting of navigational publi
cations, bulletins and notices, hydrological year hooks, river charts and river maps;
(r)         carry out consultancy and contractual services;
(s)        represent the Government of Nigeria at national and international commissions that deal with navigation and inland water transportation;
(t)         subject to the provisions of the Environmental Impact Assessment Act, carry out environmental impact assessment of navigation and other dredging activi
ties within the inland water and its right-of-ways;
(u)        undertake erection and maintenance of gauges, kilometre boards, horizontal and vertical control marks;
(v)        advise government on all border mailers that relate to the inland waters;
(w)       undertake acquisition, leasing and hiring of properties;
(x)        run cruise boats;
(y)        carry out boat repairs, boat construction and dockyard services; and
(z)        clear water hyacinth and other aquatic weeds.

The Nigerian Maritime Law (1)

Introduction
Maritime Law is the genre of law relating to navigation and commerce on the high seas and on other navigable waters. Ideally, the term refers to the body of customs, legislation, international treaties, and court decisions pertaining to ownership and operation of vessels, transportation of passengers and cargo on them, and rights and obligations of their crews while in transit.
The origins of maritime law go back to antiquity. Because no country has jurisdiction over the high seas, it has been necessary for nations to reach agreements regarding ways of dealing with ships, crews, and cargoes when disputes arise. The earliest agreements were probably based on a study of ancient customs that had developed as practical solutions to common problems. Numerous of these customs became part of Roman civil law. After the fall of the Roman Empire, maritime commerce was disrupted for about 500 years. Thereafter maritime activity resumed in the Middle Ages, various disputes arose and laws were formulated to deal with them. Gradually the laws of the sea were complied; among the best-known collections of early maritime law are the Laws of Oleron and the Black Book of the Admiralty, an English compilation of prepared during 14th and 15th centuries. Special courts to administer sea laws were set up in some countries. In Great Britain, maritime law is administered by courts of the admiralty. The overall impact of maritime law cut across all boarders. Remarkable turnaround was experienced in the area of propagation and eventual abolition of slavery in America.
To start with, maritime law is essentially though not exclusively about shipping and correlated activities. Shipping today remains the highly competitive and thus constantly challenging industry. Innovations in modern shipping practice; it also challenged the law to response to things changing circumstances. It is also important to bear in mind that ships are potentially (Super-Lethal Weapons) in the hands of their owners. They are of vast size and weight as well as of ever increasing sophistication through them sometimes unthinkable damage has been done to the seas, persons and or property. Thus, placing responsibility for making the laws or damage on the owners. It is not surprising therefore that a great part of the shipping law of any maritime nations have enacted as a resulting of the collective signing of some International Conventions aimed at addressing the problems arising from shipping operations.
Maritime laws are laws applied to maritime cases and matters. It is a fact that all fields of human endeavors, laws are necessary to provide them with sanctions, guidance and a framework for the resolution of dispute. We recognize that majority of the Planet Earth is covered with seas and occurs. To get from one part of it to another it has since time immemorial necessary to transverse large bodies of waters.
Through the ages, humans have been compelled to transverse the oceans in vessel of increasing sophistication in pursuit of trade and commerce, acquisition of new territories, exchange of ideas, diplomatic relations sporting relations e.t.c. It is only natural that myriad of problems requiring detail regulation will arise from the seemingly simple interaction of human beings with the waters that covers the Earth. As ships transverse from one country to another they have to ensure that they comply with two set of laws namely: – 1. Those applicable in their State of origin and 2. Those applicable in their State of destination.
Similarly, machinery must exist to facilitate the solution of problems arising between the owners of ships and owners of cargos or between ship of two vessels which collide or indeed between ship owners and those who render assistance to them in times of trouble or difficulty. Marine lives as well as the environment have to be protected from pollution of hazardous or natural substances carried in ship and likely to be discharged into the sea in times of emergency or even deliberately. Hence, the simple process of ships traversing the oceans from one country to another or more often to a succession of country is forthwith potential conflicts and problems especially legal problem. That is what maritime law is all about. We can see from the foregoing that there are two different aspects of maritime law: – The Internal Regulation of each particular State and – Regulation governing the relationship authority of the State and other States.

NIMASA:

The Emergence/Establishment of NIMASA: Matrimony between NMA, JOMALIC
Prior to the establishment of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety (NIMASA) through the Act the National Assembly, the two existing maritime regulatory bodies were National Maritime Authority (NMA) and the Joint Maritime Labour Industrial Council (JOMALIC).
While JOMALIC was responsible for the regulation of maritime labour activities, the NMA was in charge of other regulations, including safety and pollution. The country recorded tremendous success in maritime labour regulations because of the caliber of management staff headed by Alhaji Tijani Ramalam, who enjoyed a lot of stability as he remained the agencies only chief execute before it became defunct. The “strange” peace pervaded the maritime labour sector unprecedented throughout Ramalan’s tenure that government because unwilling to change a winning team.
In a bid for the country to realize part of her shipping policy objectives, which is to strengthen the regulatory environment, the National Maritime Authority (NMA) was established by Decree 10 of 1987. This body was later merged with the Government Inspector of Shipping (GIS) and Maritime Inspectorate Division (MID) as a conscious policy strategy with the aim of evolving a strong regulatory framework for the Maritime sector in Nigeria, the body was further merged with the former Joint Maritime Labour Industrial Council (JOMALIC). Then it became National Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on the 1st August, 2006.
It was first established administratively and it remained like that until May 2007 before it was legally established to combine the functions of two merged organizations.
The Act spelt out the qualification of anyone that can be appointed as the Director General when it said:
“The President on the recommendation of Minister shall appoint a Director General for the Agency in accordance with the provision of Sections 6 and 7 of this Act, which says: “The President on recommendation of the Minister, shall appoint to the board only persons with relevant experience and capacity applicable to maritime administration, recognized expert knowledge, qualification and security, maritime pollution, nautical sciences and hydrograph, maritime engineering, finance, maritime laws, transport logistics, administration and maritime labour”.
The government has hitherto acted in consonance with the provisions of the Act. The first Director General of the Agency, Mrs. Mfon Usoro, a maritime lawyer, who worked relentlessly to ensure a new beginning and a new foundation for the sector.
She was however removed in the year 2007 to usher in Dr. Shamsudeen Dosunmu, a seasoned administrator and a more humble and amiable gentleman. His appointment also conformed to the provisions of NIMASA Act contrary to speculations from some elements widely considered as mischief-makers. Aftermath was the appointment of Temisan Omatseye as the new Director-General of the body (NIMASA) who assumed office on the 10th July, 2009.

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, is committed to the enthronement of global best practices in the provision of maritime services in Nigeria. Their areas of focus include effective Maritime Safety Administration, Maritime Labour Regulation, Marine Pollution Prevention and Control, Search and Rescue, Cabotage enforcement, Shipping Development and Ship Registration, Training and Certification of Seafarers, and Maritime Capacity Development. Using modern tools that guarantee efficiency and effectiveness, NIMASA are determined to develop indigenous capacity and eliminate all hindrance.
The Nigerian Ship Registration Office was established by S. 28 (2) of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety agency Act 2007. The office is mandated to enter ships into the Central Ship Registry created by S. 16 (1) of the Nigerian Merchant Shipping Act 2007 and the Special Register for Vessels and Ship-owning Companies engaged in Cabotage established by S. 22 of the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act 2003. The office was initially under the office of the Government Inspector of Shipping, a ministerial department under the Nigerian Ministry of Transport until 2002 when the office of the Government Inspector of Shipping was subsumed under the then National Maritime Authority (now the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency).

The Ship Registry registers all types of vessels including fixed/mobile platforms and oil rigs, provided they are owned by persons who are by the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act (See sections 18 and 19) and the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act 2003 eligible to own Nigerian vessels. According to S. 18(1) of the Merchant Shipping Act;
Subject to the provisions of subsection (2) of this section and of any rules made or deemed to have been made here-under, a ship shall not be registered in Nigeria under this Act unless the ship is owned wholly by persons of the following descriptions (in this Act referred to as “persons qualified to own a registered Nigerian ship”)
(a) Nigerian citizens; (b) Bodies corporate and partnerships established under and subject to Nigerian laws, having their principal place of business in Nigeria; (c) Such other persons as the Minister may, by regulations prescribed.

The Nigerian certificate of registry has a 5 year validity period. Upon the expiration of this initial period, every ship-owner is required to apply for the renewal of the vessel’s registration. The application is to be supported by the following documents:
Formal letter of application by the registered or authorized representative
Copy Of Certificate of Incorporation
CTC of Memo and Articles of Association
CTC of Form CAC7 (Particulars of Directors)
CTC of Form CAC2 (Allotment of Shares)
Current Tax Clearance Certificate
Completed Declaration of Ownership Form with Passport photograph attached
Return of expired certificate of Registry
Bank statement/reference
Completed application for registration of Form
Condition Survey Report
NIMASA official receipt of payment of registration
Annual Survey report of the preceding 3 years
Meanwhile, under the Merchant Shipping Act 2007, the Registrar may cancel the registration of a ship registered in Nigeria at any time the ship: •    Appears to be registered also in a foreign country
•    Ceases to comply with the requirements for qualification to own Nigerian ships under Merchant Shipping Act 2007
•    Appears to be lost, abandoned or broken up
The owner may also apply for the cancellation of registry of the ship supported with the following documents:   •  Board Resolution authorizing the cancellation
  •  Return of certificate of registry
  •  Evidence of payment of official fees for issuance of certificate of cancellation
It must be further noted that aside all the above specific powers, functions and institutional framework of NIMASA, the Agency still performs some special oversight functions such as their contribution to the education sector, battle against corruption within the Maritime sector, Community and humanitarian services, tourism and the representation of Nigeria’s interest at the International level. In November 7, 2012, it was reported that NIMASA donated cash and relief materials worth 21 million naira to some affected communities in Anambra state. NIMASA is also credited for the Maritime Institute at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Around September last year, some top officials on the management board of the Integrated Oil & Gas Limited were also arrested by the Agency for malpractices. The Agency also, recently in June, formalized an age-long agreement with the International Labour Organization (ILO), further strengthening Nigeria’s relationship with the international community especially in the field of maritime.
Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has concluded plans to commence yearly inspection of port facilities in order to ensure effective implementation of the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) Code. Director-General of the agency, Mr Ziakede Akpobolokemi, made this disclosure at a World Press Conference on the progress made so far with the new Designated Authority (DA) for ISPS Code implementation. He said NIMASA immediately set out to institute a fresh implementation programme as soon as it received the DA mandate formally with an official letter issued by the Ministry of Transport on May 21, 2013 adding that the supposed 90-day ultimatum issued by the US government to Nigeria requiring compliance with the ISPS Code was actually issued in April and was prior to NIMASA being appointed the DA.
He informed that the implementation was not being fast tracked for the deadline, but has always been an International Maritime Organisation (IMO) requirement which NIMASA has been working towards, but coincidentally falls within the window period issued by the United States Coast Guard (USCG). He further stressed that NIMASA has organized a general stakeholders’ conference to announce the new arrangement and get feelings of the public on the imminent activities and programmes to accompany the new ISPS implementation. He revealed that an action plan has been developed and activated to close reported gaps. These, he said, include dispatching competent Recognised Security Organisations (RSOs) to conduct security surveys and assessments aimed at identifying and correcting deficiencies and other observed vulnerabilities.
‘‘NIMASA has focused not only on Port Facilities (PFs) listed in the United States Coast Guard report, but on the generality of PFs in the nation’s maritime domain. This action plan has been given a nod by the USCG and it has pledged to support the efforts of the DA in ensuring the issues raised are remedied,’’ he said adding that the DA has outlined its implementation framework in the form of a handbook to enable the public understand its agenda with respect to this new implementation regime. The Agency has also inaugurated a committee to help oversee the mandate. The committee members include staff of NIMASA, the Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigerian Police, State Security Service (SSS), Customs and Immigrations among others. The committee is also taking a stock of all the nation’s coastal maritime assets in order to establish the number, location and nature of operations of all PFs and jetties in the country. The audit will help the DA capture and catalogue all port/berthing facilities, as well as verifying their ISPS Code compliance status.
NIMASA recently concluded Verification Inspection Exercises (VIE) on all shore-based PFs in the country. The report of the VIE will form the basis for re-certification of the PFs in line with ISPS Code requirements. PFs deemed non-compliant will not be recertified and in extreme cases, attract added punitive action. The DG said talks were at an advanced stage with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for the strict monitoring of entry and exit into Nigeria’s port facilities with the aid of Electronic Access Systems (EAS). The Agency said one of its observations after taking over as the DA was lack of understanding of the ISPS Code, its relevance and application by various stakeholders. This was also captured in the US diplomatic note as security personnel were found to be ignorant of the code. To address this, policies and measures are being put in place to ensure that more training and capacity building the security personnel in the maritime sector.
According to the NIMASA Act of 2007, s.22(c), the powers and functions of the agency includes administering the registration and licensing of ships and to regulate and administer the certification of seafarers. The Agency is also empowered to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act of 2003.

SHIP REGISTRY REFORMS UNDER NIMASA ACT
Prior to the enactment of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Act 2007 and the Merchant Shipping Act (MSA) 2007, the Nigerian ship registry operated by NIMASA was governed by the provisions of the old Merchant Shipping Act of 1962. It is well known that the provisions of the old MSA regarding registration of ships were quite restrictive and a detriment to the growth of our flag registry in particular the requirement that only ships wholly owned by “commonwealth citizen/companies” could be registered. Desirous not to be bugged down by the lack of progress on the Merchant Shipping Bill, NIMASA Act drafted in 2006 pursuant to the establishment of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (“the Agency”) cleverly sought to fill in the gap by introducing crucial reforms in line with international practice in progressive ships registries.
Section28, of NIMASA Act 2007 establishes the Nigerian Ship Registration Office whose key function is to register ships in accordance with the provisions of the NIMASA Act and MSA and its amendments. The Repeals under Part XIV of NIMASA Act and the Consequential Amendments in the First Schedule of the NIMASA Act contains suitable provisions which would have sufficed to reform the ship registry whether or not a new MSA was enacted.
It is important to note that what is commonly and hitherto officially referred to as Nigerian Ship Registry is now by statute called the “Nigerian Ship Registration Office”. This, I believe must have been informed by the international practice where a Ship Registration Office has almost a quasi-autonomous status, is vested with a lot of powers as is required to run an efficient, competitive and safety conscious registry. To buttress the importance of this office, it is the only office in the Agency apart from the Executive Directors and Board members whose appointment statutory must have Ministerial approval. In order to reduce time and cost to operators, the Act permits the establishment of branch Registry Offices as may be required to further commerce and efficient service delivery.
The office of Deputy Registrars of Ships is another innovation which well implemented will enhance the competitive edge of the Ship Registration Office. The number of Deputy Registrars shall be as determined by the Agency whose decision in this respect should be guided by commercial expediency. The Deputy Registrar is expected to work under the direction of the Registrar and as is the case with the Registrar, appointment is by the Director General but with the approval of the Minister of Transportation. Office of Deputy Registrar is quite important in the sense the Act permits the delegation by the Registrar or the Agency of all the powers and duties of the Registrar to the Deputy Registrar except of course, the power to further delegate to another.
The Act also provide for the appointment of Deputy Registrars. NIMASA Act however goes further to state categorically that the Registrar of Ships and the Deputy Registrars must be appointed “from the staff of the Agency”. The mischief the NIMASA Act seeks to remedy is the practice of allowing extraneous considerations to affect the appointment, deployment and placement of staff and to ensure career progression for NIMASA staff. It is one of the numerous provisions in the Act which aims to promote expertise and professionalism within the Agency.
Maritime administrators and operators who have visited or have interacted with Registrars of Ship in major shipping countries will appreciate this innovation as they would be aware of the enormous responsibility and powers wielded by Registrars of Ships. Registrars of Ships are respected and feared by operators in some jurisdictions more than they do to the Chief Executives of their Agencies. The key role and enhanced powers of the office of the Registrar is emphasized by the mandatory requirements for a seal specifically under the control and use of the Registrar. The seal is to be accorded judicial notice in all judicial proceedings.

SHIP REGISTRY REFORMS UNDER NIMASA ACT 2007 AND MSA 2007
“…prior to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act (NIMASA Act) 2007 and the Merchant Shipping Act (MSA) 2007, the Nigerian Ship Registry operated by NIMASA was governed by the provisions of the old Merchant Shipping Act of 1962. Thus, it is observed that the restrictive qualifications regarding the eligibility of vessels for registration in the Nigerian Ship Registration Office as contained in the 1962 MSA had without doubt contributed to the low tonnage and were a disincentive to registration of vessels in Nigeria. However, embracing a more progressive approach, a combination of NIMASA Act 2007 and the new MSA Act 2007 has introduced innovation that puts the Nigerian Ship Registration Office at par with other progressive Registries Worldwide. In order, to make the Registry flexible and in line with what obtains in several other registries, the Act does not require that Nigerian owned ships must be “owned wholly by Nigerian citizen”.
Section 16provides for the registration of ships as follows:
There shall be maintained a Central Ship Registry for the registration and licensing of Registry of Nigerian ships.
The Minister may, from time to time, by notice published in the Gazette appoint other places for the registration of ships and at each such place there may be appointed a fit person to be the Registrar of ships.
No Registrar shall be liable to damages or otherwise for any loss accruing to any person by reason of any act done or default made by him as Registrar, unless the default happened through his neglect or willful default.
For the purposes of this part of this Act, Registrar includes a Deputy Registrar.
For the purposes of this part of this Act, “ship” includes any barge, lighter or like vessel used in navigation in Nigeria and however propelled, so however, that no self-propelled vessel which is less than fifteen (15) gross tons shall be subject to registration.
The Act further affirms the obligation to register ships as follows:
(1).Whenever a ship is owned wholly by persons qualified to own a registered Nigerian ship, the ship shall be registered in Nigeria in the manner provided in this part of this Act or in any other country in accordance with the laws of that country, unless the ship is, pursuant to subsection (2) of this section, exempted from registration under this Act.
(2).The Minister may, if he thinks fit, by notice in the Gazette generally or specially exempt a ship not exceeding fifteen tons employed solely on the coasts or inland waters of Nigeria from registration under this Act.
(3).Any ship, other than a Nigerian licensed ship, which does not comply with the requirements of subsection (1) of this section, shall not be recognized as a Nigerian ship.
(4).If the master of any ship which is owned wholly by persons qualified to own a registered Nigerian ship fails on demand to produce a certificate of registration of the ship or such other evidence to satisfy the Minister that the ship complies with the requirements of subsection (1) of this section, the ship may be detained until that evidence is produced.
Also, Section 34, NIMASA Act, 2007 provides:
(1).Whenever a change occurs in the registered ownership of a ship registered in Nigeria, the change of ownership shall be endorsed on the certificate of registration by the Registrar at the ship’s port of registry, or by the Registrar or appropriate officer at any port at which the ship arrives after the registration officer is advised of the change by the Registrar at ship’s port of registry.
(2).The master shall, for the purpose of an endorsement of the certificate of registration of the ship by the Registrar at the ship’s port of registry, immediately deliver the certificate to the Registrar after the change, if the change occurs when the ship is at the port of registry but if the change, occurs during the absence of the ship from that port and the endorsement under this section is not made before her return, then upon her first return to that port.
(3).The Registrar at any port of registry, not being the ship’s port of registry, or any appropriate officer required by this section to make an endorsement on the certificate of registration of a ship registered in Nigeria, may require the master to deliver the ship’s certificate of registration to him, as long as the ship is not detained; and the master shall deliver the certificate accordingly.
(4).Where any Registrar, not being Registrar at the ship’s port registry, or any proper officer, makes an endorsement under this section in respect of any ship, he shall forthwith notify the Registrar at the ship’s port of any ship, he shall forthwith notify the Registrar at the ship’s port of registry.
(5).The master of a ship who fails to deliver the ship’s certificate of registration to a Registrar or the appropriate officer when required under this section to do so, commits an offence and on conviction is liable to fine not less than one hundred thousand Naira.
(6).Where the ownership of any ship registered in Nigeria is changed, the Registrar at the ship’s port of registry may, on the application of the owner of the ship, register the ship anew, notwithstanding that a new registration is not required under this part of this Act.
To this end, it is implicit in the various statutory provisions the extent of the statutory authority of the agency relating to the registration of vessels and taking a cue from Mrs. Mfong Ekong Usoro.
Small vessels including shipping vessels wholly owned by Nigerian residents or a joint ownership between Nigerian residents and Nigerian citizens are entitled to be registered under the NIMASA Act 2007. Such small vessels are to be operated solely by Nigerian residents, Nigerian citizens or by both Nigerian citizens and residents respectively. The critical aspect in this category is that the owners of the vessels must have a physical presence in Nigeria. Canoes and primitive boats engaged solely in artisan fishing are exempted. The significance of this innovation is that it provides inter alia the solution to some of the conflicts and duplicity of functions between government transport agencies notably NIMASA and NIWA. Registrations of small crafts/fishing vessels are now without question to be registered in and licensed by NIMASA. The MSA 2007 confirms this position by specifically stating that the function of the ship registry is “registration and licensing of Nigerian ships” and further requires the registrar of Ships to open a “Register for licensed ships below 15 gross tons”. This further underscores by the domestication of IMO Regulations on Non-Convention vessels under the MSA. The MSA categorically identified the Agency for Maritime Safety Administration as the implementing Agency for the Act. Nevertheless, for logistics and practicality considerations, NIMASA as Safety Agency can set the safety standards on small vessels generally because of the need or uniformity of standards while NIWA may be permitted to enforce those standards especially in the inland waterways where NIWA already has a presence.

NIGERIAN OWNED SHIPS
To make the Registry flexible and in line with what obtains in several other registries, the Act does not require that Nigerian owned ships must be “owned wholly by Nigerian citizen”. This flexibility arguably will therefore admit vessels owned by JV ventures registered in Nigeria and vessels owned by companies registered in Nigeria. The Act does not however specially define “Nigerian owned ships”. The term must therefore be constructed in the manner that aids the attainment of the intention of the Act and which does not contradict other sections of the Act i.e. registration of vessels with National Carrier Status discussed below. It is significant that where citizenship requirement was intended in the Act, the expressly uses the words “Nigerian citizens”. A good example is registration of “ships on bareboat charter to Nigerian citizens” as encapsulated in Section 34, NIMASA Act 2007).
Small vessels including shipping vessels wholly owned by Nigerian residents or a joint ownership or between Nigerian residents and Nigerian citizens. Such vessels are to be operated solely by Nigerian residents, Nigerian citizens or by both Nigerian citizens and residents. The critical aspect in this category is that the owners of the vessel must have a physical presence in Nigeria. Canoes and primitive boats engaged solely in artisan fishing are exempted.
The significance of this innovation is that it provides inter alia the solution to some of the conflicts and duplicity of functions between government transport agencies notable NIMASA and NIWA. Registration of small crafts/fishing vessels are now without question to be registered in and licensed by NIMASA. The MSA 2007 also confirms this position by specifically stating that the function of the ship registry is “registration and licensing of Nigerian ships” and further requires the Registrar of Ships to open a “Register for licensed ships below 15 gross tons”. This is further underscored by the domestication of IMO Regulations on Non-Convention vessels under the MSA. The MSA categorically identified the Agency for Maritime Safety Administration as the implementing Agency for the Act. Nevertheless, for logistics and practicality considerations, NIMASA as the Safety Agency can set the safety standards on small vessels generally because of the need for uniformity of standards while NIWA may be permitted to enforce those standards especially in the inland waterways where NIWA already has a presence.

SHIP OWNED BY COMPANIES/PARTNERSHIPS INCORPORATED IN NIGERIA
It is noteworthy that former requirement where only ship owned by commonwealth citizens and companies registered in Commonwealth countries were qualified to own Nigerian ships have been dropped in the new MSA. The MSA it must be pointed out, however retained erroneously the words “owned wholly” which was present in section 290(1) of old MSA thereby introducing a slight inconsistency between it and the provisions in the NIMASA Act with respect to degree of ownership of a registrable vessel. Section 18 of MSA 2007 is an exact reproduction of the old 290(1) in MSA of 1962 except the replacement of “Commonwealth” with “Nigeria”. It should be that the draftspersons(s) may have may have forgotten to delete the words “owned wholly”. It could be erroneous because if the intendment of the Act was to serve the local content principle, this had been adequately provided for in the Cabotage Act and the MSA need not have retained the wholly owned qualification since the aim of the MSA is to make our Registry modern and attractive.
Quite apart from the arguments above, insight as to the correct position could be garnered from the British Merchant Shipping Act and other former British dominion who’s Merchant Shipping Acts generally all follow the British precedence. Our MSA 2007 while introducing some innovation seemed to follow the style and format of the old MSA 1962 which itself was almost an exact replica of the 1984 British MSA. Had the draftspersons(s) studied the progressive innovations of the British registry starting from MSA 1983, 1988, 1993 and MSA 1995 particularly the MSA 1988 which introduced drastic amendments to MSA 1894, the problematic language “owned wholly” would not have been retained in S.18 of our new MSA 2007. The 1988 had amended Section 1 of 1984 MSA on qualification for owing British ship by opening up the category of registrable vessels to include inter alia a ship where “a majority interest in the ship is owned by persons who are qualified to be owners of British ships”. Within the context of the issue in question this meant that the owned wholly principle was repealed. The practice in British since then has been to incrementally remove restrictions on the ownership criteria for registration of vessels. In point of fact the most recent MSA 1995 simply provides that “A ship is entitled to be registered if it is owned, to the prescribed extent, by persons qualified to own British ships and A… registration regulations issued by the Secretary of State shall prescribe the extent of the ownership required for compliance A… and prescribe other requirements designed to secure that, taken in conjunction with the requisite ownership, only ships having a British connection are registered”.

Nigeria passes law banning homosexuality

President quietly signs new legislation outlawing homosexuality and imposing prison terms of up to 14 years for people prosecuted under the new act

A new law in Nigeria, signed by the president without announcement, has made it illegal for gay people to even hold a meeting. The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act also criminalizes homosexual clubs, associations and organizations, with penalties of up to 14 years in jail.

The act has drawn international condemnation from countries such as the United States and Britain.

Some Nigerian gays already have fled the country because of intolerance of their sexual persuasion, and more are considering leaving, if the new law is enforced, human rights activist Olumide Makanjuola said recently.

Nigeria’s law is not as draconian as a Ugandan bill passed by parliament last month which would punish “aggravated” homosexual acts with life in prison. It awaits the president’s signature.

But Nigeria’s law reflects a highly religious and conservative society that considers homosexuality a deviation. Nigeria is one of 38 African countries – about 70 percent of the continent – that have laws persecuting gay people, according to Amnesty International.

The Associated Press on Monday obtained a copy of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which was signed by President Goodluck Jonathan and dated Jan. 7.

It was unclear why the law’s passage has been shrouded in secrecy. The copy obtained from the House of Representatives in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, showed it was signed by lawmakers and senators unanimously on Dec. 17, though no announcement was made.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday the United States is “deeply concerned” by a law that “dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association, and expression for all Nigerians.”

Former coloniser Britain said, “The U.K. opposes any form of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.”

A statement from the spokesman for the British High Commission, traditionally not identified by name, said the law “infringes upon fundamental rights of expression and association which are guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution and by international agreements to which Nigeria is a party.”

The British government last year threatened to cut aid to African countries that violate the rights of gay and lesbian citizens. However, British aid remains quite small in oil-rich Nigeria, one of the top crude suppliers to the US.

Washington-based Human Rights First urged President Barack Obama to “consider all avenues for response,” saying leaders such as Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, will be watching.

“This law threatens the very livelihood of LGBT people and allies in Nigeria, and sets a dangerous precedent for persecution and violence against minorities throughout the region,” said the organization’s Shawn Gaylord.

The motivation for the Nigerian law is unclear, given that the country already has one making homosexual sex illegal. And gay people were not demanding to be married in a country where being gay can get a person lynched by a mob. In parts of northern Nigeria where Islamic Shariah law is enforced, gays and lesbians can be legally stoned to death.

Some have suggested the new law in Nigeria and the proposed one in Uganda are a backlash to Western pressure to decriminalize homosexuality. Several African leaders have warned they will not be dictated to on a subject that is anathema to their culture and religion.

Yahya Jammeh, the president of Gambia, has said homosexuals should be decapitated.

In June, Senegal’s president, Macky Sall, argued with Obama about the subject at a news conference. Sall told the AP afterward that other countries should refrain from imposing their values beyond their borders.

“We don’t ask the Europeans to be polygamists,” Sall said. “We like polygamy in our country, but we can’t impose it in yours. Because the people won’t understand it. They won’t accept it.”

Jonathan, Nigeria’s president, has not publicly expressed his views on homosexuality. But his spokesman, Reuben Abati, told the AP on Monday night, “This is a law that is in line with the people’s cultural and religious inclination. So it is a law that is a reflection of the beliefs and orientation of Nigerian people. … Nigerians are pleased with it.” Abati said he has heard of no Nigerian demonstrations against the law.

The few Nigerian gays and human rights activists who tried to give evidence last year during the debate in the House of Assembly were heckled and booed until one broke into tears and another could not be heard.

Nigerians are the least tolerant nation when it comes to gays, with 98 percent surveyed saying society should not accept homosexuality, according to a study of 39 nations around the world by the U.S. Pew Research Center.

Under Nigeria’s new law, it is now a crime to have a meeting of gays, to operate or go to a gay club, society or organization, or make any public show of affection.

In a recent interview, Makanjuola, the executive director of the Initiative For Equality in Nigeria, had said: “If that bill passes, it will be illegal for us to even be holding this conversation.”

The law now says, “A person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies or organizations, or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a term of 10 years.”

Anyone convicted of entering into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union faces up to 14 years imprisonment.

Some critics have suggested the anti-gay law was designed to distract attention from Nigeria’s many troubles, and to win Jonathan favor with powerful churches that influence voters. His party has fractured ahead of 2015 elections over his expected plan to run for re-election.

Nigeria is enduring an Islamic uprising in the northeast that has killed thousands of people, deadly ethnic-religious clashes in the center of the country, and renewed militancy in the oil-rich south, where activists are demanding a bigger share of oil wealth, which is now being squandered by widespread corruption.

Makanjuola said those who will suffer most under the new law are poor gay Nigerians. Many rich ones have left the country, or say they will fly elsewhere to have sex, she said.

The court of the European Union recently ruled that laws such as Nigeria’s could provide grounds for political asylum.

A statement by the Nigerian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Intersex Diaspora urged lawmakers not to make them refugees.

Criminalizing same-sex relationships “turns us into asylum seekers in other countries,” it said. “We visit home with trepidation because at home we have to live a life full of lies and deny who we are for us to be accepted. Why do we want to keep subjecting our citizens to such psychological and emotional torture?”

Culled from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk