ETHICAL LEADERSHIP: Abuja MOU, MACN Trains Port State Control Officers

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By Innocent Orok

The Memorandum of Understanding On Ports State Control for West and Central African Region, otherwise known as Abuja MOU in collaboration with the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network, MACN embarked on a two -days training on Ethics and Leadership for Port State Control Officers in the West and Central African Region.

The event which kicked -off in Lagos Nigeria on Monday and continues on Tuesday recorded participants drawn from 22 member states of the West and Central African region, making up the Abuja MOU.

In his opening address, the Chairman of the Abuja MOU, Mr Ebrima Sillah, while noting that shipping is an important off taker of global economy, maintained that the role of Port State Control Officers to enhance and entrench ethical behaviours and conducts in the sector was so valuable and therefore, cannot be overemphasized.

Sillah who is also the Honourable Minister of Transport, Works and Infrastructure of the Gambia, however, disclosed that the objectives of the ethics and integrity leadership training were to provide avenue for capacity building of all Ports State Control Officers monitoring adherence to the standard operating procedures.

He equally underscored the importance of understanding the laws, regulations and policies that govern the sector as they relate to application of such instruments to the day to day administration of the Maritime Administrations in their implementation of effective Port State Control Mechanisms.

While noting a very serious concern about what the local laws and regulations entail and the conduct of officers in charge of applying such laws and regulations in the maritime subsector, the Abuja MOU Chairman added that “This mismatch breeds corruption and disregard the ethics that are safeguarding sectors and even the Maritime Administrations.”

He continued, “You will all agree that despite our collective efforts to stem out corruption in the sections, there are still givers and takers of corruption, circumventing all ethical and standard rules and continued their unbecoming activities, of the safety of our environment and our economy, also leaving the lives of our seafarers at risk.

“Therefore, collaboration and cooperation are critical to achieving our goals of infusing transparency and accountability in our Port State Control efforts of ensuring that officers conduct themselves ethically and with integrity. The collaboration, therefore, between the Abuja MOU and the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network is not only hailed but is celebrated.

“With the broader objectives of putting ethical standards in the highest levels, there is the need not only to call for ethical business environment between the MOCs but to ensure credibility and hope in the sector. But it is also important to use cutting edge technologies to support our drive to bring the much desired change.”

He, therefore, hoped that the training would help participants to recommit themselves to key fundamental principles of core professional practices for Port State Control Officers and the recent IMO guidance to implement and adopt procedures against maritime corruption.

“Let’s uphold the core values of Abuja MOU which of course are professionalism, respect, accountability, communication,team work, technology, integrity, safety, security and excellence. As the Chairman of Abuja MOU, it is my fervent hope and believe that from this training, we will set a standard for this sector as this training is poised to lay the foundation to improve public sector capacity to tackle corruption in seaports and trade sector corridors in selected countries in West Africa”, he stated.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Secretary General of Abuja MOU, Captain Sunday Umoren observed the drive for ethics and integrity was not only limited to Port State as the International Maritime Organization had in place the IMO Code of Ethics which spelt out the core values and principles a staff should attain and adhere to in the course of their dealings.

He said, “We are proud to announce that this training is the first of such collaboration that the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network, MACN is having with any regional MOU or flag state and this makes us the pacesetter in aligning with the International Maritime Organization on its current drive on ethics and anti-corruption in the maritime sector.

Umoren stated that the MOU recognized the key role played by Port State Control Officers as they constantly interface with the array of stakeholders in the maritime industry which made it expedient to collaborate with MACN to bring about the training.

He pointed out that the programme aligned with the IMO guidance circular to implement and adopt procedures against maritime corruption which included the two established penalties that were effective, proportionate and dissuasive and ensure that those penalties were applied to prevent corrupt incidents.

“We are also encouraged to strengthen capacity and institution building to prevent and combat corruption effectively. To my mind, unethical and corrupt practices have been categorized into three major parts: accepting, giving, standing idle which means not reporting any case you may be aware of even though you may have rejected the offer.”

Also speaking, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr Dayo Mobereola noted that the training which was being attended by Port State Control Officers from 22 member states of the Abuja MOU focused on the importance of ethics, integrity and leadership to the implementation of Port State Control responsibilities by member states.

Mobereola who was represented at the event by the Executive Director, Operations of the agency, Engr. Adeyemi Fatai Taiye reiterated that Port State Control Officers were the first line of defense and the singular most important instrument for enforcing the rules of maritime safety and protecting the lives and well-being of seafarers, ship and marine environment from the potential effects of unsafe shipping.

“For this reason, it goes without saying that they have a responsibility to discharge their duty with highest standard of transparency and accountability. Ethical conduct in Port State Control activities demand that decision making, even though one of the most challenging, must be fair, just, equitable and in tandem with established standards. It requires that subjectivity, undue influence, compromise and conflict of interest must be set aside”, he said.

Recalling that the IMO Code of Good Practice for Port State Control Officers outlined three fundamental principles which are integrity, professionalism and transparency, the NIMASA DG said, “In NIMASA, Port State Control Officers are glad to comply with applicable international and domestic rules on transparency, accountability and anti-corruption. This is particularly given the strict commitment of the federal government of Nigeria to the war against corruption and allied offenses.

“They are also mandated to uphold the agency’s core values which have been simplified by an acronym CAPITEL – which simply means commitment, accountability, professionalism, integrity, teamwork, excellence and leadership. It is also a plan to reiterate Nigeria’s longstanding commitment to its international and regional responsibility especially given its leadership role in West and Central Africa subregion.

“This of course, include shipping, maritime and the blue economy where NIMASA is the highest in terms of safety, security and the protection of the marine environment. I have no doubt that this training will provide invaluable opportunity to build your mental resolve towards carrying out your Port State Control duty under a clean, fair, transparent and equitable environment at all times.”

On his part, the representative of the Chief Executive Officer, CEO of MACN, Vivek Menon recalled that in 2007 when the IMO came out with its Code of Good Practices for Port State Control Officers, it enshrined three fundamental principles – Integrity, professionalism and transparency saying, “What’s more important is the core values of Abuja MOU which complements that.

“And I want to read that for you. The core values of Abuja MOU is professionalism, respect, accountability, communication, teamwork, technological advancements, integrity, safety, security and excellence. In short, it is called PRACTICE.

“This is not just a training, we are not the experts, the experts are in the room, you are all the experts. What we want to do is to engage in the conversation of ethics and integrity and hopefully we will be able to collaborate together in building capacity not only in the region but also globally. This is the first of its kind, we believe that Abuja MOU and the member states of Abuja MOU will set the scene for all the other MOUs in the world and also, we want to continue this collaboration going forward.

The Vice Chairman of Abuja MOU and Nigeria’s Minister of Marine and Blue Economy Mr Adegboyega Oyetola, Danish Consular General in Lagos, Jette Bjerrum, President, Nigerian Association of Master Mariners, Captain Tajudeen Alao, President of Woman in Maritime Africa, Nigerian chapter, Mrs. Rollens Mcfoy and the President of WISTA Nigeria, Mrs. Odunayo Ani also presented their goodwill messages at the event.

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