Why peace-building is strong benchmark for more secure shipping in Gulf of Guinea- NIMASA Board Chairman, Garba

NIMASA Board Chairman, Maj. Gen. Jonathan Garba(Rtd.)
With the just-concluded Global Maritime Security Conference (GMSC) that held in Abuja, Nigeria from Oct.7-9,  there are brighter indications of efforts to resuscitate old boatyards in Nigeria. Speaking in this interview during the conference, Maj. Gen. Jonathan Garba(Rtd.), the Board Chairman of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA) said that while the Gulf of Guinea States as well the global shipping community eye a more secure area as shipping trade continues, it is pertinent  for the states within the GoG to build peace, than consider paying for peace or buying peace later. 

He said that Nigeria could take the advantage of efforts to revive boat-building yards, which have potential of job-creation as well as technological advancement in the craft.  Garba also spoke on how the global community would perceive Nigeria’s commitment to ensuring that the war against piracy is fought and won.   

What would the GMSC mean for Nigeria’s maritime domain with regards to more secure shipping?

First, I want to acknowledge that this conference is the first of its nature in an area where people are complaining, in an area where shipping business is very expensive yet all our goods come from abroad by sea, about 90 per cent of goods come by sea and whatever we want to transport goes by sea. So, to that extent a lot of money is expended on the transportation by sea. But if you look at it, you will find that it is very expensive to bring things to the gulf of guinea because of this problem of insecurity. Now, what this conference therefore is doing, it will sensitise the International Maritime Organisation(IMO) and other shipping nations to know what Nigeria is doing to secure the Gulf of Guinea(GoG). It also has proven that not every activity that takes place at sea in the GoG can be said to be piracy.

With all the discussions, what key things should really get immediate attention?
From the outcome of what we have heard, it has shown that cooperation, coordination and communications are the best instruments to help fight piracy or other crimes at sea. It will also send a message to the criminals that Nigeria now has a law in place, therefore, if they don’t stop their criminal acts and they are caught, they will now be forced to face the wrath of the law. I think this will send warnings to the minds of those who intend to join in the criminality. It has also brought out one very crucial matter, and that fact is that we should try and build peace, rather than buy peace or pay for peace. If we do things that will help in the Gulf of Guinea, it will assist people to live their lives more meaningfully than giving them money to spend.

What about discussions on actions for job creations?

First of all, Nigeria had boatyards, a lot of them. I am aware that there was a boatyard in Makurdi that built a Yacht that was to take the owner round the world. I also know that Warri, Calabar, Sapele, Epe and all those other places had boatyards, many of which are dead now. This issue goes to reinforce the need for us to go forward by looking at how we can resuscitate some of those boatyards. This will bring about technological advancement and be a nucleus in shipbuilding because the technology will be transferred in shipbuilding. But at the end of this conference, we will collate these issues and bring them together and articulate the issues better.