By Bassey Udo
Nigeria recorded zero attack in her maritime waters in the Gulf of Guinea in two successive quarters in 2022, the Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Bashir Yusuf Jamoh, has said.
The DG who confirmed this on Tuesday during the 5th Plenary of the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum/Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (GOG-MCF/SHADE) in Abuja, said no single piracy incident was recorded during the period.
The theme of the plenary was
‘Enduring and Sustainable Security.’
While celebrating the successes so far, Jamoh however, said deliberations at the two days workshop must lead to forward-looking resolutions that seek to provide specific ways to maintain the current momentum.
He urged stakeholders to focus discussions on issues that would offer concrete solutions to sustainability, by building on the success and deepening the relationship with the YCOC and other stakeholders, such as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) , and G7++FPGG.
“Personally, I am overjoyed. This is a special moment. We have indeed come a long way in just a short space of 24 months. Two years ago, we connected virtually with a dark, sad and persistent cloud of blue crimes enveloping the region. But today, we gather with the cloud opening, and we are seeing the sun gradually shining through. No one can easily forget the frequent reports of attacks on ships and the kidnapping of seafarers in the Gulf of Guinea in 2019 and 2020, when they reached their peak. And the attendant negative economic effect on the seaborne trade in the region.
“But today, even the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has not only affirmed that piracy is at a 28-year all-time lowest in the region, Nigeria which once seemed the worst culprit, has been taken off its Red List, even as we celebrate almost two-quarters of zero attacks in 2022.
“You will agree with me that the partnership between the ICC and Nigeria has delivered quickly — thanks to the support of the international community.”
He said while it was important to recognise success so far made, the future must however be the focus on specific ways to maintain the current momentum, offer concrete solutions to ensure sustainability; sustain the activities already achieved and build on success.
Jamoh warned that more was yet to be done, by rallying all state and non-state actors in the region to become believers in the Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE), and what it represents for the country’s collective progress.
Also speaking at the event, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, noted that the Gulf of Guinea has a coastline of about 2,874 nautical miles and endowed with hydrocarbon and mineral deposits and a comparative advantage owing to the absence of narrow maritime shipping lanes, straits or chokepoints linking major global shipping destinations.
Gambo, who was represented by Rear Admiral Saidu Suleiman Garba, Chief of Policy and Plans, however regretted that the comparative advantage of the GoG has been threatened by the activities of criminal elements perpetrating piracy and armed robbery at sea.
The activities of these criminal elements, he said, have continued to undermine the economic lifeline of nations within the region in particular and global trade in general, hence, the need for a sustained collective collaborative effort by relevant stakeholders.
He attributed the steep decline of insecurity, particularly associated with cases of piracy within the Gulf of Guinea, especially in the last three quarters of 2021, to the collective efforts of all stakeholders.
“Also, it Is gladdening to note that in 2022 only one case of pirate’s attack has been recorded till now. I want to appreciate all coastal nations within the region as well as international partners and relevant stakeholders that have made positive strides in the area of multinational and interagency cooperation and response to piracy incidents in the GoG.
“On the part Of the Nigerian Navy, the successes recorded were largely due to its ongoing efforts towards building institutional capacity in reinforcing capabilities for maritime governance.
“This has been deeply supported by the Government of Nigeria, through the Office of the National Security Adviser, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Transportation and Defence Headquarters amongst others.
On Maritime Domain Awareness capability, the Nigerian Navy was utilising its Falcon Eye Maritime Intelligence Facility, Regional Maritime Awareness Capability as well as recent acquisition of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to enhance and extend the reach of the NN surveillance architecture.
“Also, the Nigerian Deep Blue Project is an integrated National Surveillance and Waterways protection infrastructure, though still evolving. The Nigerian Navy forms an integral part and currently manning some’ assets to support the project towards ensuring the nation’s waterways are safe.
On the response capability of the Nigerian Navy, he said the industry was deeply committed to a sustainable fleet renewal programme, adding that apart from taking delivery of some naval assets, including a survey ship (NNS LANA), an AW 139 maritime helicopter and a Landing Ship Tank (NNS KADA), the Nigerian Navy acquired other equipments to support its work.
These acquisitions, he said, were pointers to the government’s commitment to building institutional capacity towards improving maritime security.
“We are encouraged that our investments in maritime governance are bearing some positive results with the recent International Maritime Bureau’s report indicating decline in piracy incidents in our waters. Equally, the Federal Government of Nigeria is working assiduously with different stakeholders and tiers of government to ensure that root causes of piracy and other Maritime crimes are mitigated through other non-kinetic programmes and community engagements” he said.
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