President Muhammadu Buhari has called for transnational efforts to check piracy and related crimes in the Gulf of Guinea.Represented by the Minister for Defence, Mansur Mohammad Dan-Ali, the President made the appeal yesterday at the 2016 International Maritime Conference to mark the Nigerian Navy’s 60th Diamond Jubilee celebration in Lagos.
Buhari noted at the event with the theme, “Enhancing Collaboration for Effective Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea” that challenges of maritime threats had become critical to the nation.
According to him, the situation comes with devastating impact on Nigeria’s operational environment in the Gulf of Guinea as economic opportunities abound in these waters.
“The Nigerian Navy at 60 and since inception had applied only the most optimal policies and strategies to resolve maritime challenges in our maritime areas.
“They have remained constant in ensuring sea control and arrest of illegal bunkers, smugglers, pipeline vandals and other miscreants in the fight against illegalities in the nation’s maritime domain and beyond.
“But the situation has gone beyond our capability to handle. It, therefore, calls for greater international collaboration between the Nigerian Navy and other international maritime stakeholders.
“This conference, however, is relevant to appraisal of multi-national approaches to enhancing collaboration for effective maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea
“I urge you to keep the flag flying and the government is solidly behind you, “ the President stated. Earlier in his address, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State said that the international waterways have been the main corridor through which foreign commerce had nurtured relations among foreign countries.
Represented by his deputy, Dr. Idiat Adebule, the governor noted that the challenges of sea pirates, which accounted for about 30 per cent of attacks in African regional waters between 2003 and 2011, had become a recurrent issue affecting commercial shipping and trade activities of countries.
According to Ambode, the economic benefits that abound in maritime trade for African nations and investors can only be fully realised with the safety and security of the offshore boundaries
“Unless we collectively tackle the challenges, it will continue to affect the fortunes of merchant vessels and fishing tourists negatively with consequent impact on commerce and trade development for countries in Africa and around the world,” he noted.
Also speaking, Governor Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom State commended the navy for its role in strengthening national security.He, consequently, pledged to donate two gunboats to the military to enhance sea patrol and keep the waters safer.
In his remarks, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok Ibas, said the conference would discuss measures aimed at finding a lasting solution to maritime challenges in the country, the Gulf of Guinea and Africa at large.He noted the security concerns at the inlet called for immediate tackling as they affect the economies of member-states.