Nigeria, UK strengthen bilateral relations… as Navy welcomes HMS Trent to Lagos
Nigeria and the UK have continued to strengthen their bilateral relations as the British Warship Her Majesty Ship (HMS) Trent calls at the Lagos port.
Speaking on the mission of the visit, the British Deputy High Commissioner in Nigeria, Ben Llewellyn-Jones, told newsmen that it was a routine exercise traditional done with friendly nations.
He added that considering Nigeria’s key position on the West African Coast, both countries have a lot of interests in common and it was only best to continue to have exercises such as this visit, to further cement the relationship.
He said: “We are here with our friends and colleagues at the Western Naval Command to formally welcome HMS TRENT and Commander Thomas Knott to Lagos.
“They have an intensive week of engagement; afterwards they would be joining, along with the Nigerian Navy and other partners, in exercise of the coast of Nigerian.
“The visit of HMS TRENT cements our Defence relationship. So as strong as it is, the ambition we have is to take it to higher levels in cooperation and training and understanding of each other.”
Llewellyn-Jones used the occasion to formally thank and appreciate the Western Naval Command and the Nigerian Military Authorities for their support and cooperation as HMS TRENT comes into port.
Speaking on the vision of the UK and other Commonwealth countries in terms of trade relations, the British Deputy Commission said that “the UK as a core member of the Commonwealth is very keen to see cooperation among Commonwealth nations; Nigeria, not just a Commonwealth nation, but also one of our strongest allies in West Africa, is key to that vision.
“So, part of the cooperation we have is to try to understand how to build on that, both in our defence and in our trade and wider economic links as well. The Commonwealth is key to our vision of how Nigeria and the UK should cooperate together.”
He also disclosed that while HMS TRENT would be in the port for about a week, the cooperation and the exercise of the coast of Nigeria would be a bit longer thereafter.
On his part, the Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Jason Gbassa, who earlier welcomed the visiting British Envoy and crew of HMS, with its Commanding Officer, Commander Thomas Knott, said the visit was routine among navies of friendly nations.
He also said that during such visits, the ship was allowed to have logistical support and a means to relax its crew, after some time at sea.
Responding to questions on a recent report by International Maritime Bureau (IMB), of reduced incidence of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, Gbassa said it did not come as a surprised, considering what the Nigerian Navy had been doing in the last one year.
“The Navy adopted a new strategy over the last one year of effective presence at sea, with patrols by ships and boats, which effectively cuts off the criminals from assessing our waterways.
“This was supported by our Falcon-eye facility, which are surveillance assets that cover the whole of Nigeria maritime domain to the extent of our sovereignty. This is backed up by a level of presence like we never had before.
“We have had collaborations with sister services and agencies within our shores and support of our partners. Put together, the reduction in criminalities in our waters as observed by the IMB did not come as a surprise to us.”