NIGERIAN President, Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday called for greater international collaboration between the Nigerian Navy and other stakeholders in tackling maritime security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea.
He made the call at an International Maritime Conference organised to mark the 60th anniversary of the Nigerian Navy in Lagos.
Buhari, represented by the Minister for Defence, Mansur Mohammad Dan-Ali, said the challenges of maritime threats in the Gulf of Guinea had gone beyond what Nigeria alone could deal with.
“The Nigerian Navy at 60 and since inception has 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,” Buhari said.
He called for an appraisal of multinational approaches to enhancing collaboration for effective maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea
In his remark, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ibas, said that maritime crimes and threats in the Gulf of Guinea called for serious concern as it affected economic lifeline of member states.
“These maritime threats have become transnational and have gone beyond the capability of one nation to contain.
“Therefore, this conference would provide a platform to collectively offer the way forward that will address the myriads of challenges and enhance maritime policing, ” he said.
In his address, Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, represented by his Deputy, Dr Idiat Adebule, said international waterways were the main corridor through which commerce had nurtured relations among countries.
Ambode said sea piracy accounted for 30 per cent of attacks in African regional waters between 2003 and 2011, affecting commercial shipping and trade activities of countries.
He said that the economic benefits which abound in maritime trade for African nations and investors could 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,” Ambode said.
Also speaking, Gov. Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom, commended the Navy for doing a lot to check the activities of pirates in the coastal areas, especially in Akwa Ibom.
“Our administration will continue to support and ensure strong partnership with the Navy in their quest to combat maritime crimes and ensure safety on our coastal areas,” Udom said.
He said that the state would donate two Gulf Boats to the Navy to enhance its sea patrol in keeping the waters safe.
The conference, with the theme ‘Enhancing Collaboration for Effective Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea’, attracted military service chiefs, security experts, captains of industry and members of the diplomatic corps.