by crossriverwatch admin
Cross River State has registered its support for the introduction of military patrol within the maritime zone of the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) as a way of curbing the insurgence of piracy.
Governor Liyel Imoke stated this at the First Gulf of Guinea Regional Maritime Awareness Capacity Conference at Tinapa Business and Leisure Resort, Calabar.
Imoke hoped deliberations at the conference which attracted participants from the Gulf of Guinea, Europe, United State and Asia would address issues bordering on security within the area and proffer solutions to piracy within its territorial waters.
He advised that their approach should aim at not only applying continental solutions but evolving global ideas through interfacing of acceptable steps which all would adopt.
The governor noted that the conference was useful as it presented hope for the participating nations on how to tackle maritime related crimes within the gulf, adding that it also called for private and public sectors partnership because of its economic relevance.
Minister of State Defence, Erelu (Dr) Olusola Agbeja Obada, in a key note address described the conference as a landmark for the Nigerian Navy, Gulf of Guinea GOG nations, US Navy and the United States of America’s Africa Command (AFRICOM) which was meant to assist participating countries synergize to enhance maritime security in the GoG using surveillance technology.
Obada said it represented the growing interest of foreign stakeholders whose investment and dependence on peaceful economic activities around the GoG are being increasingly significant, adding that, ‘this was informed by the porous and ungoverned state of security in the region’.
She observed that, ‘central to this therefore, is the need for an awareness of activities and the sharing of information related to those activities that impact on international safety, commerce and security of all GoG nations’.
The Minister listed some of the problems encountered by the Gulf of Guinea to include lack of basic maritime awareness which creates ungoverned maritime environments in which terrorists and criminals freely move and operate, inadequate national and regional capabilities to monitor maritime surface traffic in a timely manner with sufficient details to ensure a secure and safe maritime environment as well as lack of policies, tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) and training on the security of the region.
According to her, ‘Resources are lost due to the inability of GoG nations to adequately patrol their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) territorial waters, and ports, the losses translate into huge opportunity cost in terms of both unrealized national revenue and untapped human potentials’
The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Dele Joseph Ezeoba, in a welcome address, said the conference which had chiefs and Head of African navies, maritime experts from navies and coastal guard, representatives of governments international maritime organizations, the shipping industry and the academic was intended to reinforce their collective resolve to ensure a safe and secure maritime environment for socio-economic activities to thrive in the GoG.
Ezeoba explained that the gulf remains a strategic maritime environment with enormous potential that has been persistently challenged with myriad of threats directed at economic lifelines of its littoral and land locked states, adding that there has become a source of concern, not only to the region but also the international community.
According to him, it called for the enthronement of contributive, proactive, sustainable and holistic maritime security architecture which will ensure a secure and safe maritime environment for optimal exploration and exploitation of the abundant marine resources that is germane for socio-economic growth and national development of sub-Saharan Africa while providing economic opportunities for the rest of world.
Apart from Nigeria, the host nation, participants came from Senegal, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Togo Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Garbon and Angola.
Others include South African, United States, Sri Lanka, Gulf of Guinea Commission and European Nations.
The Minister, accompanied by the National Security Adviser, Col NS Dasaki, Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim, Inspector General of Police Mr. Muhammed Ibrahim, Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State and Deputy Governor Akwa Ibom State, Mrs. Valery Ebe later visited and boarded NNS Thunder berthed at the Calabar Port complex.
While addressing officers and men of NNS Thunder, Obada commended them for their loyalty to the nation and urged them to continue to be dedicated to the Federal Government as a lot is being done to improve the services.
Responding, the Commander of NNS Thunder, Navy Captain CE Abeti, speaking on behalf of officers and men, thanked the minister and her entourage for the visit, adding that they are combat ready and prepared to obey the nation’s call and that from Calabar, they will set sail to Australia on a military exercise.
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