From left: Senator Ita Enang, DG NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ette Ibas, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transport, Sabiu Zakari, representative of Minister of Defence, Hajia Nuratu Jimoh Batagarwa,  Minister of State for Transport, Gbemisola Saraki; Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada, Senator Danjuma Goje, Senator Ahmed Yerima and others dignitaries at the ongoing Global Maritime Security Conference in Abuja on Monday.

The Federal Government of Nigeria has called for concerted global collaboration to stem the tide of maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea region, saying that the region is strategic to international trade and commerce.

The country’s leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, who spoke at the ongoing 2019 Global Maritime Security Conference GMSC in city Abuja, the country’s capital, said that only collaborative global efforts would eradicate the current maritime crimes across the globe, especially in the Gulf of Guinea.

Represented at the event by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubir Dada, the President noted that security in the Gulf of Guinea region was vital and central to global trade given that many critical trade routes that connect the African Continent to the rest of the world, run through the Gulf of Guinea region.

The theme of the three-day conference being organised by the Federal Ministry of Transport through the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA in partnership with the Nigerian Navy is: “Managing and Securing Our Waters”.

President Buhari, also noted that that the Gulf of Guinea region encompasses diverse geographical and rich cultural heritage with many of its States endowed with vast oil and gas deposits, which are crucial in addressing global energy demands.

According to him, as the African continent forges ahead with the phase two negotiations for the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement AfCFTA, safety and security of sea transport are crucial to seamless trade and effective economic integration.

He therefore assured that Nigeria, which is a prominent member state of the Gulf of Guinea region, will continue to play pivotal role in eliminating or significantly reducing the scourge of maritime crimes in in the region.

He said: ” The convening of this timely conference here in Nigeria is an indication that we will not relent in our efforts to rid our waters of the piracy scourge. To succeed in our objective, a collective efforts from all stakeholders represented here today is essential.

“I reiterate the need for a joint effort because security in the Gulf of Guinea is vital and central to global trade in view of the fact that many critical trade routes that connect the continent, run through the Gulf of Guinea region.

“Our approach therefore towards the realisation of maritime security in the region and other vital sea lanes is contingent on our collective efforts and ability to put in place international, continental, regional and national frameworks and resources in cooperation with critical stakeholders.

“It is expedient to highlight that the international treaties on maritime security provide robust mechanisms for cooperation among maritime nations in the fight and suppression of maritime crimes.

“While the continental and regional frameworks, which draw inspiration from the international treaties on piracy and other maritime crimes, provide useful mechanisms for cooperation among member States to address security concerns in the Gulf of Guinea and the African Continent. It is noteworthy to mention in this regard that the 2013 declaration of Heads of States and Government of West and Central African States on Maritime Safety and Security in their common maritime domain”.

The President noted however that though the Gulf of Guinea region has been at the epi-centre of maritime crimes, efforts by the various stakeholders in the region including the Nigerian government and its agencies are yielding good results as the International Maritime Bureau IMB Piracy Reporting Centre recently reported that that there has been “a welcome and marked decrease in attacks in the Gulf of Guinea for the second quarter of 2019, which particularly commended the Nigerian Navy for actively responding to reported incidents by dispatching patrol vessels”.

Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peter side, who delivered a welcome address, assured that Nigeria will continue to collaborate with relevant agencies within the member States of the Gulf of Guinea region to fight the scourge of piracy and other maritime crimes in the region.

Peterside, who doubles as chairman of Association of African Maritime Administrations AAMA, also argued that insecurity in the region negatively affects Nigeria’s economic wellbeing, as it also hampers her ability to create wealth and job opportunities for her teeming population, a development that calls for collaborative and urgent attention across the globe.