Gulf of Guinea Security: Gov Udom donates 2 gunboats to Nigerian Navy... as stakeholders seek collaboration to combat sea piracy

Gov. Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom, on Tuesday at the Naval Dockyard in Lagos, donated two gunboats to the Nigerian Navy to boost its anti- piracy operations.

The governor made the donation at an international maritime security conference themed ‘Enhancing Collaboration for Effective Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea’ as part of activities marking the 60th anniversary celebration of the Nigerian Navy.

The governor, who commended the Nigerian Navy for protecting the maritime domain against pirate attacks, said his government would continue to give its support to ensure safety at the Gulf of Guinea.

“Akwa Ibom will continue to support and collaborate with the Navy in their quest to combat maritime crimes and ensure safety on our coastal areas.
“I should be the one to benefit the more because I occupy the longest coastal area of 29 km.

“To back up this collaboration, I will donate two gunboats to the Nigerian Navy, to enhance its sea patrol to keep the coastal area safe.

Declaring open the conference, President Muhammadu Buhari called for greater collaboration among the stakeholders and the Nigerian Navy to fight the security challenges of the Gulf of Guinea.

President Buhari, represented by the Minister of Defence, Mansur Muhammed Dan-Ali, said that the increased security threat of the Gulf of Guinea now required collaborative efforts to combat.

He said, “The Nigerian Navy at 60, and since inception, has applied only the most optimal policies and strategies in our maritime areas.

“They have remained constant in ensuring sea control and arrest of illegal bunkers, smugglers, pipeline vandals and other illegalities in the nation’s maritime domain and beyond.

“But the situation has gone beyond our capability to handle alone. It therefore calls for collaboration between the Nigerian Navy and other international maritime stakeholders.

In his welcome address, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Vice-Admiral Ibok Ibas said the security of the Gulf of Guinea remained a great concern to all stakeholders considering how it affects the economic life of the states.

“What is most disturbing is that most of the activities in the Gulf of Guinea has affected the economic life of both the littoral and landlocked states.

“In other words, the scourge of illegalities such as piracy, crude oil theft, pouching, illicit trafficking of humans constitute serious challenges to the development of the economy.

Ibas, therefore, recognising the expanded dynamics of the attacks, called for effective collaboration to put an end to the scourge.

“One commonality of these maritime states is that they have become trans-national, and gone beyond the scope and capability of one nation.

“It is therefore envisaged that the conference will provide a veritable platform to proffer solution and address the myriad of challenges.

“The objective of the conference therefore is to receive national understanding and strategy that will enhance our collective environment,” Ibas said.

The Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, represented by the Deputy Governor, Mrs Idiat Adebule underscored the importance of the  international waterways to the development and growth of commerce.

He noted that the activities of sea pirates between 2003 and 2011 accounted for 30 per cent attacks along the sub-region, affecting trade activities and commercial shipping.

He therefore called for collaboration among stakeholders to secure the maritime domain for the greater economic benefits of nations within the region.  

In his remark, the Chief of Policy and Plans, Rear Admiral Jacob Ajani, said deliberating on maritime security issues of the Gulf of Guinea required developing new strategies and greater collaboration among all stakeholders.