The vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has called on the Gulf of Guinea states to collaborate and tackle security and maritime challenges in the region.
Addressing participants at the at the Nigerian Navy International Maritime Conference held at the Naval Dockyard, Lagos on Thursday, the vice president described the Gulf of Guinea as “one of the most strategic maritime geographies in the world.”
“On account of its proximity to the European and North American markets, the Gulf of Guinea has been an important route for container ships headed for Europe and America. Besides, the Gulf hosts one of the most important regions for oil and gas production and transportation,” he said.
He noted that the strategic importance of the Gulf of Guinea as well as its peculiar challenges is not lost on the member countries.
“Gulf of Guinea States have, of course, long recognized that Security in the Gulf of Guinea is both a challenge to maritime safety and a significant threat to the economic prosperity of our States. From the rise in maritime insurance premiums for vessels coming to the Gulf of Guinea to increased freight and reduced commercial traffic to the region, it has always been clear that it is in our national and regional interests to collaborate, to tackle the problems that we confront in the maritime domain of the Gulf of Guinea.
“In addition, Member States’ of the Gulf of Guinea Commission have made individual efforts to improve the capacity and capability of their Navies, and other relevant Agencies to enable them perform their duties more effectively. This has been well complemented by the establishment of regional centres for maritime security by the regional economic communities, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Economic Community of Central African State (ECCAS). This effort is itself capped by the establishment of the Inter-regional Coordination Centre based in Yaounde, Cameroon,” said Osinbajo.
He hailed the establishment of the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC) in July 2001, which, aims at strengthening the ties of cooperation and solidarity existing among member states; promoting close consultation in the exploitation of the natural resources of the gulf, with a view to ensuring the economic development of member states and the well-being of our people; protecting, preserving and improving the natural environment of the Gulf of Guinea and cooperating in the event of natural disaster, among some other objectives.
Osinbajo applauded the “invaluable” and “multifaceted” collaboration of the United States and the European Union for the support of GGC.
However, he said: “But the destination of our journey to safety and stability in the Gulf is still a while away” and commended the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas, for putting the conference together.