By OKOSUN DENNIS
The Minister of Defence, Alhaji Mansur Muhammed Dan-Ali on Tuesday called for intensified international collaborative commitment to tackle maritime problems with a view to finding a lasting solution to the insecurity plaguing the Gulf of Guinea.
He made the call at the opening of a two-day International Maritime Conference to mark the Nigerian Navy Diamond Jubilee Celebration with the theme: ‘Enhancing Collaboration for Effective Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea’.
He said the challenges of maritime threats had become critical to the nation as it had gone beyond the scope of capability of the nation to deal with.
According to him, the situation came with devastating impact on Nigeria’s operational environment in the Gulf of Guinea as there are economic opportunities that 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.
“I urge you to keep the flag flying and the government is solidly behind you, ” Dan-Ali said
In his remarks, Vice Admiral Ibok Ibas, Chief of Naval State said that the conference would discuss collaborating commitment to find lasting solution to maritime challenges in the country and in African, particularly at the Gulf of Guinea.
Ibas said the maritime crimes and threats at the Gulf of Guinea called for serious concern as it affected economic life line of member states.
“These maritime threats have become transnational and have gone beyond the capability of one nation to contain.
He explained that the conference would provide a platform to collectively offer the way forward that will address the mirages of challenges and enhance maritime policing.l
In his address, Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Dr Idiat Adebule said that the international waterways had been the main corridor through which international commerce had nurtured relations among foreign countries.
Adebule emphasised that the challenges of sea pirates which had 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 her, the economic benefits that are abound in maritime trade for African nations and investors can only be fully realised with the safety and security of the offshore boundaries.
Present at the conference were the Chief of Defence, Gen Olonisakin, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Burutai, Chief of Air Force, Vice Admiral Saqid Abubakar, Chief of Naval Staff from Togo, Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, Spain among other countries.