Worried by the impact of maritime crime on the regional economy, Nigeria has sought partnership with other countries to tackle the menace headlong.
The Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside, who made this call at the ongoing Global Maritime Security Conference, in Abuja, said maritime insecurity remains one of the significant challenges affecting international trade, and the quest for sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihood and job creation.
He said Nigeria is keen on driving maritime security initiative because it is a significant destination in the international and domestic shipping map, accounting for over 65 per cent of cargo generated from the Gulf of Guinea region, and with rich endowments in oil and gas reserves.
He said the conference, which attracted delegates from around the world, and more than 40 global maritime experts is expected define the precise nature and scope of coordinated regional responses to maritime insecurity vis-à-vis intervention support from external actors and partners.
The experts will also evaluate the relevance and impacts of the various interventions already initiated to tackle maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea, to revise and adapt them to address the current challenges.
Peterside said the gathering would also make a decisive move towards policy harmonisation and practical implementation through regional integration and cooperation as a principal method for delivering effective and efficient security in the region.
According to him, the forum will also proffer alternative approaches to prevent cybersecurity attacks and other forms of emerging maritime security threats.
Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi (Rtd), said African Maritime domain remains strategic to Nigeria’s growth, affirming that no meaningful development can take place in the surrounding countries with the current spate of insecurity, unless they collaborated to tackle the shipping threat.
Noting that the threats are not insurmountable, Magashi, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Nuratu Batagarawa, called for the enthronement of constructive, proactive, sustainable and holistic maritime security structure.
He said: “Africa must be committed in embracing co-attribute for the elimination of sea blindness, insincerity of purpose, and above all member states and stakeholders must effectively cooperate and collaborate for enduring maritime security.
Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibot-Ete Ekwe Ibas, said the current security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea are of serious concern to all, as criminal activities at sea are directed at the economic life and developmental prospects of individual countries and the African continent at large.
He said the Nigerian Navy has over the years focused on improving its capacity to underwrite maritime security within Nigeria’s immediate waters and across the Gulf of Guinea.
According to him, the Nigerian Navy has acquired offshore patrol vessels, fast attack craft, logistics vessels, hydrographic ship, and more than 300 inshore patrol craft, while concurrent effort has been made to encourage operational training and indigenous shipbuilding capacity.