The Minister of Transportation Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has assures of adequate security in the maritime sector particularly on the Gulf of Guinea waterways.
The Minister made this known at the Chatham House African Conference in Lagos. The conference to analyzed the factors contributing to maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea, with the theme “Regional Collaboration and the Root Causes Sustaining Piracy, Armed Robbery at Sea and other forms of Maritime Crime.
The Minister was represented by the Minister of State, Transport, Senator Gbemisola Saraki said “the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) region is a strategic route for commercial shipping, which makes it a vulnerable target to trans-border and complex maritime criminal networks seeking to exploit the heavy traffic of vessels transiting through the route.”
“We cannot afford to allow illegal maritime activities such as piracy, oil theft, armed robbery, arms trafficking, illegal bunkering and illegalities to continue to thrive along this route.”
Amaechi further said, the Theme of the Conference is quite appropriate considering the fact that the issue of maritime insecurity has assumed a complex dimension which requires a combination of strategic approaches to combat. Therefore, there is a compelling need to put in place collaborative, effective and efficient strategies to tackle this menace.
He said “it is imperative for countries bordering around the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) to note that an unsecured maritime domain hinders the facilitation of trade, which limits the socio-economic development of the region. Nigeria is one of the countries in the region that is adversely affected by this and by extension also suffers other dire consequences as a result of these maritime insecurities which ranges from: increased attacks on merchant vessels; increased cost of maritime transportation through the imposition of high insurance premium on vessels calling at our ports; decreased revenue in the Eastern ports of the country due to fewer ship calls; oil theft and disruption of crude oil exploration. There is therefore, urgent need for countries in the region and beyond to strengthen collaboration to tackle this menace head on.”
Amaechi further highlighted the measures put in place by the Federal Government to address maritime insecurity “through the establishment of a mechanism known as the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum and Shared Awareness and De-confliction Conference (GOG-MCF/SHADE) which is chaired by the Nigerian Navy and the Inter Regional Coordination Centre, Yaoundé. The Forum aims to galvanize regional and international efforts for security in the Gulf of Guinea.”
We must note that in order to address the root causes of these maritime insecurities, regional bodies such as the Economic Community of West African Countries (ECOWAS), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), including the African Union have critical roles to play in ensuring political and economic stability in the region. There is no doubt that political and economic stability in the region will further reduce the propensity for maritime crimes.”