The Federal Government on Tuesday celebrated five months of zero attack by pirates and sea robbers on the nation’s waterways.
The Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki, said that the nation was in a celebratory mood for combating piracy and crimes at sea within the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) and its territorial waters.
Saraki said this in her keynote address during the 2022 World Hydrography Day celebration on Tuesday in Lagos.
“Today makes it five months of zero attack on our waterways.
“This is the first time in 28 years that there has been no attack. This is a feat duly recognised by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).
“I, therefore, congratulate the Federal Government, the Federal Ministry of Transportation, the Nigerian Navy and of course the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
“The celebration of the Hydrography Day is as much about the work and responsibilities of our Navy as it is about the geographical landscape of our waters,” she said.
The minister noted that for a nation like ours with 853 kilometres of coastline, hydrography was both an economic and a national security issue.
“To many of us not privileged to wear this Omo Bright sparkling white uniform, today is Hydrography Day. Every day is Hydrography Day to a Naval Officer or a Cadet.
“Like other Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, hydrography has traditionally seen low rates of female participation.
“It is my hope that in your pursuit of excellence, you will begin to promote and include women in hydrography daily as well.
“Hydrography is the key driver of ocean science studies and depicts the physical features of the ocean, and that is the starting point for any meaningful understanding of the world oceans.
“It is this knowledge that enables us to better manage our ocean’s assets and deliver economic and environment solutions to the maritime public and stakeholders across Nigeria.
“It is in this regard that I consider the theme for this year’s World Hydrography Day – ‘Hydrography: Contributing to the United Nations Ocean Decade apt,” she said.
The minister pointed out that the action was already receiving global accolade, with NNS LANA, awarded the “Best Large Research Vessel in the world for the Year 2022” by Baird Maritime.
She said that government had also placed an order with Messrs. OCEA of France for the delivery of a 35-meter hydrographic research vessel, which would work side-by-side NNS LANA to further boost the nation’s hydrographic research capacity toward actualising the objectives of the UN’s Decade Ocean Science.
“In addition, the Federal Government established a committee on Blue Economy chaired by the Vice-President, procurement of modern survey equipment and increased tempo of human capacity development to improve Nigeria’s capacity for hydrographic survey and charts,” she said.
Responding, Dr Bashir Jamoh, the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), said that the importance of hydrography to the maritime industry cannot be overemphasised.
Jamoh said that platform such as this would raise public awareness about hydrography’s global benefits to navigational safety, ocean conservation and environmental preservation.
“I am delighted to be identified with the World Hydrography day. I want to seize this opportunity to thank the Nigerian Navy Hydrographic Office (NNHO) and the Nigerian Hydrographic Society (NHS) for hosting the 2022 Worid Hydrography Day (WHD) celebration in Nigeria.
“In addition to ensuring the safe and efficient navigation of ships, hydrography underlies practically every other sea-related activity.
“Just like part of NIMASA’s mission is to sustain safe and secure shipping, hydrography deals with monitoring physical features of the oceans and seas for the primary purpose of navigation safety,” he said.