By Dirisu Yakubu & Joseph Erunke
Nigeria is determined to play a leading role in championing maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea region, Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi has assured global maritime stakeholders.
The Minister stated this in Abuja at the opening ceremony of the Global Maritime Security Conference which kicked off yesterday.
Represented by the Minister of State, Transport, Gbemisola Saraki, Amaechi bemoaned the challenges of sea piracy in the region, noting that a lot was being lost by member states as a result of lack of effective maritime policing.
He stated: No doubt, there is a significant global concern on the rising spate of maritime insecurity and the perception that the Gulf of Guinea Region accounts for most of these cases. It is for this reason that Nigeria has decided to take the lead on behalf of the Gulf of Guinea states in convening this conference to examine the strategies and coordinated responses in place to address maritime insecurity.
Commending the organizers for their forthrightness, the Minister underscored the uniqueness of the conference given its peculiarities, saying, whilst there have been several endeavours to address the broad array of real and potential threats in the Gulf of Guinea over time, the approach this time is to appraise the relevance and impacts of the various interventions initiated already to tackle maritime insecurity to revise and adapt them to address the current challenges.
The absence of legal frameworks within member states seems to be a significant challenge in the regional effort to stem the tide. Nigeria, in this regard thankfully has put in place detailed legislation in the form of a Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act to tackle and repress piracy and other maritime crimes in the Nigerian maritime domain.
The Minister also noted that integrated maritime security architecture has been emplaced with a command and control centre for effective policing of the Nigerian waters.
According to him, the initiative comprises a C4-I intelligence system to enhance domain awareness; acquisition of land, air and marine assets for patrols, quick response and interdiction; and the retraining and capacity building of military response teams to effectively respond to threats and incidents within the maritime domain.
He further underlined the importance of safer security this way: Our prosperity as nation-states today has an inextricable linkage to maritime security considering that over 90% of world international trade is by sea. Thus striving to maintain safe, secure shipping in our seas and oceans is non-negotiable.