Nigeria

Nigerian government restates commitment to improving security on waterways

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Musa Istifanus, has restated the commitment of the federal government to continuing strengthening safety and security along the waterways, noting that the maritime domain is relevant because of wealth.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Musa Istifanus, has restated the commitment of the federal government to continuing strengthening safety and security along the waterways, noting that the maritime domain is relevant because of wealth creation.

Istifanus disclosed this yesterday at the inter-agency expert consultative dialogue session on the articulation of the implementation plan of Nigeria’s National Maritime Strategy (NMS) organised by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

He stated that the country’s economy relies heavily on the exploitation of the seaborne natural resources of hydrocarbon, its transportation and relevance to global energy security.

He also noted that in line with promoting security along the coastline, the federal government recently launched the deep blue project with assets worth over $195 million and invested in the acquisition of more patrol vessels and aircraft for the Nigerian Navy.

Istifanus, who was represented at the event by the Director, Airforce Ministry of Defence, Utsuashibel Peter, recalled that the African continent and the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) developed Integrated Maritime Strategies (IMS) as a response to the high volume of insecurities within the continent.

He explained that Nigeria has an average of 5,000 vessel calls a year, with the potential for increased calls.

He added that the current vessel calls translate to approximately 70 per cent of the total cargo traffic to West and Central Africa combined.

He hinted that the IMS provides a broad framework for ensuring protection in the course of sustainable exploitation.

Earlier in his remarks, the Country Representative, UNODC, Oliver Stolpe, said according to the first six-month report of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) for 2021, there has been an overall decline in reported incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, “which was attributed to the coastal response agencies of Nigeria and other countries in the region including the independent international navies.”

He commended the federal government for the endorsement of the National Maritime Strategy (NIS) development and implementation of frameworks that encompass tactics to manage the insecurities that persist in the maritime domain while engaging in sustainable exploitation to foster interests in wealth creation from Nigeria and the region.

In his words: “Considering Nigeria’s leading role and commitment to a secure and safe African maritime domain, Nigerian experts, including the Nigerian Navy were instrumental to recurring deliberations and the eventual drafting of these IMS. Member States of the African Union (AU) resolved to develop individual national maritime strategies to facilitate effective and cohesive coordination within and across states in response to insecurity at sea.

“In recognition of the importance of having a comprehensive maritime strategy model to foster secure and sustainable use of the maritime domain and the commitment in providing leadership in the deliberate discourse towards the implementation of an effective sustainable framework that would ensure safe secure shipping, the Ministry of Defence at the request of the Nigerian Navy constituted an Inter-Ministerial Committee of Stakeholders in 2015 to see to the drafting of the Nigerian NMS. The Committee was made up of representatives of over twenty government MDAs and private organisations with links to the maritime sector. Following intensive efforts of the Committee, the draft NMS was concluded in 2019 for approval by the Federal Executive Council.”

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