Nigeria has expressed its support for any regional initiative geared towards eliminating the scourge of piracy and maritime crimes especially in the Gulf of Guinea.
This was disclosed by the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Dakuku Peterside at the on-going International Maritime Organisation (IMO)/Maritime Organisation for West and Central Africa (MOWCA) sponsored integrated sub regional coast Guard function network in Brussels, Belgium.
Dr. Peterside who is the leader of the Nigeria delegation to the IMO/MOWCA meeting noted that Nigeria’s position is premised on the fact that crime at sea especially in the Gulf of Guinea is almost always transnational and therefore a regional integrated approach is most suited for checking the menace.
While addressing delegates at the conference, Dr. Peterside said “Nigeria with the longest coast line in the continent is mostly affected by the activities of these criminals. If the continent and maritime actors do not rise up to tackle piracy, it will affect commerce which is the driver of growth and by extension hamper development.”
He described as unfortunate the situation where the Gulf of Guinea has become notorious as one of the top three locations where piracy occur globally saying freight rates, insurance and ports of call for vessels are all a function of the perceived maritime security of the region.
According to the NIMASA DG, “three things are important in any regional initiative to fight piracy; human capacity, infrastructure, legal and organizational framework”.
Dr. Peterside briefed delegates on Nigeria’s efforts in tackling and mitigating piracy saying “apart from military led patrols on our territorial waters to deter the criminals and high intelligence and surveillance network, Nigeria with the assistance of the IMO is pushing for early passage of a dedicated anti-piracy bill to provide the needed legal framework to tackle the crime”.
He said Nigeria’s fight against piracy enjoys total support from the topmost layer of government in Nigeria and called on all governments in the Gulf of Guinea to show greater interest in dealing with maritime crimes in the region which according to him “has adverse economic and reputational impact on member nations”.
The summit was declared open by the President of Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa(MOWCA) & current Transport Minister of Ghana, Hon. Fifi Kwetey.
Addressing the summit, the Secretary General of MOWCA, Amb. Alain Michel Luvambo of Angola said the summit is a follow up of the MoU signed by 16 coastal member states of MOWCA at its 13th General Assembly of Ministers which was adopted by the African Union commission and United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea. He said the MoU approved the setting up of a sub-regional coast guard function.
This particular meeting is to bring together partners, development agencies/donors, funders, financial institutions, shipping operators and maritime administrations across Africa and Europe to pull resources together to finance the regional coast guard function and National Maritime coast guard institutions.
The summit was attended by Ministers of Transport from different African countries and maritime administrations from Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Liberia, Côte d Ivoire, DR Congo, Guinea, Ghana, Angola as well representatives of African Development Bank (AfDB), Regional Maritime University Ghana, Regional Academy of Science and Technology of the Sea Abidjan amongst others.
The summit continues today with presentations by AfDB, European Union, World Bank, AFRIEXIM Bank, Chinese Exim Bank, amongst others.