The Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, has on Monday, revealed that Maritime insecurity remains one of the significant challenges affecting international trade and the quest for sustainable use of the ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and job creation.
Dakuku, said this in his welcome address at the ongoing Global Maritime Security Conference in Abuja, with the theme, “Managing and Securing Our Waters”.
The DG who noted that the Gulf of Guinea and its navigational routes to international commerce as well as the global energy balance has been one of the hotspots of Maritime Insecurity, added that Nigeria has taken the initiative by convening the Global Conference to examine the maritime security challenges in the region.
He further said that Nigeria is a significant destination in the international and domestic shipping map, accounting for over 65% of cargo generated from the Gulf of Guinea region and with rich endowments in oil and gas reserves.
Also, he stated that the Conference which has delegates from over eighty (80) countries and more than forty (40) global maritime experts, is expected to achieve several objectives such as; Define the precise nature and scope of coordinated regional responses to maritime insecurity vis-à-vis intervention support from external actors and partners; Evaluate the relevance and impacts of the various interventions initiated already to tackle maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea to revise and adapt them to address the current challenges.
Others are; Decisively move towards policy harmonisation and practical implementation through regional integration and cooperation as a principal method for delivering effective and efficient security in the region; Proffer alternative approaches to prevent cyber security attacks and other forms of emerging maritime security threats; and Advocate for a more profound global commitment to the deployment of resources for ending maritime insecurity within the region timeously.
According to him, “The success of this Conference will go on to provide the platform and catalyst for enhanced and robust regional and international collaborations to deter and repress these challenges in the region”.
Speaking to the press on the sidelines of the Conference, Dakuku reiterated President Muhammadu Buhari’s statement that Nigeria is committed to play a leadership role in addressing the challenges of Maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, as Nigeria’s economic prosperity is tied to the seas and oceans.
He further noted that collaboration and partnership is needed to tackle the challenge of Maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea.
“Inter-agency collaboration and partnership, inter-regional collaboration and inter-continental collaboration and partnership as well as global collaboration and partnership, to me this is the key message,” he said.
He further noted that without safety and security of the waterways, there won’t be Maritime transportation as sea-borne transportation flourishes where the waterways are safe and secure.
“A key component of maximizing the opportunities inherent in Maritime Transportation is addressing the issues of security and safety.
“The challenge of insecurity in our waterways is no longer tolerable and we must deal with it from the root. We are being proactive and will not accept any form of threat to our Maritime domain, particularly the use of our waterways for shipping and economic activities,” he ended.
In a Goodwill message, the Executive Secretary, Gulf of Guinea Commission, Amb. Florentina Ukonga, said that the threats and consequences of Maritime insecurity for the Gulf of Guinea Region requires countries to research innovative, achievable and sustainable solutions.
These solutions, she said, can only be found in the framework of permanent consultation and coordination of all the activities of stakeholders of the region.
According to her, “Maritime security is a sine qua non to global shipping and to economic development of coastal states with 38 of such states in Africa. It is also essential for a drastic reduction, if not total eradication of criminal activities at sea”.