Abiola Seun & Dapo Olawuni |
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday sought global collaboration for Nigeria and other African countries in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) to maximise the $950bn Gross Domestic Product inherent in the region.
The president in his keynote address at the Global Maritime Conference, tagged, “Managing and Securing our Waters”, held in Abuja assured participants that his administration will not relent in ridding the Nigerian waters and Gulf of Guinea of Piracy and other maritime insecurity.
The Gulf of Guinea which span about 6000 kilometres of coastline is bedevilled with threat and crimes such as piracy, sea robbery, human trafficking, smuggling of illicit and dangerous goods, kidnapping, terrorism and illegal fishing.
It was also learnt that the GoG generates an estimated Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $950bn with export value of $180bn and import value of $105bn yearly.
President Buhari who was represented by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Amb. Zubairu Dada also called for collective and collaborative efforts from all member nations in the GoG including international allies.
President Buhari further stated that security in GoG is vital and central to global trade.
His words, “the conveying of this timely conference here in Nigeria is an indication that we will not relent in effort to rid our waters of the piracy scourge. To succeed in our objective, a collective effort from all stakeholders represented here today is essential.
“I reiterate the need for a joint effort because security in the GoG is vital and Central to global trade in view of the fact that many critical trade routes connecting the continent to the rest of the world , run through the Gulf. Also, the GoG encompasses diverse geographical, geological and rich cultural heritage with many of its states endowed with vast oil and gas deposits critical in addressing global energy demands.”
The president also informed the global audience that his administration signed into law, Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act to provide legal and institutional framework for safe andsecure shipping in Nigeria water.
“I am pleased to mention that Nigeria has put in place a suppression of piracy and other maritime offences act, which I signed into law on the 24th of June 2019. The act is detailed and would provide the much needed legal and institutional framework for Nigeria to ensure safe and secure shipping in Nigerian waters.
Speaking earlier, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi said there is global concern over level of insecurity at the GoG.
The Minister who was represented by the Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki called on other African countries for strict legislation against piracy.”
He said, “No doubt, there is a significant global concern on the rising spate of maritime insecurity and the perception that the Gulf of Guinea Region accounts for most of these cases. It is for this reason that Nigeria has decided to take the lead on behalf of the Gulf of Guinea states in convening this Conference to examine the strategies and coordinated responses in place to address maritime insecurity.
“Whilst there have been several endeavours to address the broad array of real and potential threats in the Gulf of Guinea over time, the approach this time is to appraise the relevance and impacts of the various interventions initiated already to tackle maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea to revise and adapt them to address the current challenges.”
“The absence of legal frameworks within member states seems to be a significant challenge in the regional effort to stem the tide. Nigeria, in this regard thankfully has put in place detailed legislation in the form of a Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act to tackle and repress piracy and other maritime crimes in the Nigerian maritime domain.”
“I firmly believe that the result of our efforts would foster better cooperation in addressing the challenges of maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea for the overall benefit of member states and the world at large.”
Dakuku, in his welcome address, advocated a more profound global response to the issues of piracy and maritime criminality, saying this is the essence of the conference.
He said, “Nigeria has taken the initiative by convening this global conference to examine the maritime security challenges in the region. Nigeria is keen to drive this initiative because it is a significant destination in the international and domestic shipping map, accounting for over 65% of cargo generated from the Gulf of Guinea region and with rich endowments in oil and gas reserves.”
He identified the objectives of the conference to include defining the scope of coordinated regional responses to maritime insecurity vis-à-vis intervention support from external actors and partners, evaluating the relevance and impacts of the various interventions, and moving towards policy harmonisation and practical implementation through regional integration and cooperation as a principal method for delivering effective and efficient security in the region.
The Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ete-Ibas, said drawing from the total spectrum maritime strategy, the Nigerian Navy had sustained the operational concept of Maritime Trinity of Action comprising surveillance capabilities, response initiatives and law enforcement to combat maritime crimes.
Secretary General of IMO, Mr. Kitack Lim, in his goodwill message delivered by Assistant Secretary General Lawrence Barchue, stated IMO’s support for member-states’ efforts to enhance maritime security.
“Working together is something that IMO is fully onboard with; together we can team up to deploy resources from all stakeholders in order to comprehensively address maritime insecurity within the region,” he said.
Other speakers at the event include Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Salihi (Rtd); Executive Secretary, Gulf of Guinea Commission, Florentina Adenike Ukonga; Chairperson, African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat; as well as the ECOWAS and ECCAS Presidents.
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