The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Nigerian Navy and the Interregional Coordination Centre (ICC) on Tuesday highlighted the need for continuous collaboration with regional and international stakeholders to ensure the sustainability of security in the Gulf of Guinea.
This was the thrust of presentations at the fifth plenary of the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum/Shared Awareness and De-confliction meeting, which has ‘Enduring and Sustainable Security’ as its theme.
NIMASA Director General, Dr Bashir Jamoh, who noted that collaboration and co-operation was central in attaining enhanced security in the Gulf of Guinea in recent times, said that NIMASA is committed to providing all logistics required for members of the Shared Awareness and De-confliction (SHADE/Forum) to thrive and maintain the momentum.
Jamoh said “Two years ago, we connected virtually with our unhappy stakeholders, with challenges of piracy attaining its peak in the Gulf of Guinea between 2019 and 2020. But today, even the International Maritime Bureau has affirmed that piracy is at a 28-year all-time low in the region”.
He further said: “The SHADE must be nurtured to remain a force for good. As members we owe a collective duty to this forum to keep its dialogue robust and guard it from slipping into complacency as to become a toothless bulldog. Our SHADE must be strengthened through cooperation, coordination, collaboration and communication. Security success can never be by solitary achievements.
“There must be cooperation between regional navies like we saw recently between Nigeria and Benin. We are all contributors to the success we are currently experiencing in the area of maritime security”.
The Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation, Mr Kitack Lim, who addressed the Forum virtually, congratulated Nigeria on the efforts it has embarked on to improve security in its territorial waters and the Gulf of Guinea domain. He challenged members of the SHADE Forum to maintain the momentum in order to sustain the gains of the past one year.
According to him, “maintaining the momentum of gains made so far is the main challenge for the regional navies. To do so, you must address the root causes of piracy including the plight of coastal communities, in order to reach sustainable solutions to the issue of piracy”.
Also speaking at the forum, the Chief of Naval staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo noted that the successes recorded in the Gulf of Guinea was due to the collaboration, information and data sharing amongst countries in the Gulf of Guinea.
The Naval Chief, who was represented by the Chief of Planning, Nigerian Navy Headquarters, Real Admiral Saidu Garba emphasised the need to sustain the momentum through institutional capacity building for maritime governance.
“There is still room for greater collaboration in the areas of information sharing, increased the presence of naval assets and strengthened legal frameworks among the GoG nations, as well as international partners which are all key to ensuring success of the Yaounde Architecture. The safety and security of shipping in the GoG is a vital enabler in the recovery process of global economy and trade downturn suffered due to COVID 19 pandemic”, he said.
Other stakeholders present at the plenary were Director, Interregional Coordination Centre -Yaounde, Admiral Narciso Fastudo; Co-chair, SHADE – GoG/Maritime Collaboration Forum, Rear Admiral Solomon Agada; and Special Advisor to the chairs of the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum, Simon Church.
The goal of the forum is to implement effective operational counter-piracy cooperation amongst regional and international Navies, as well as the shipping industry and reporting centres of the Yaounde Code of Conduct for the Regional Strategy for Maritime Safety and Security in Central and West Africa region
This year’s edition was hosted by NIMASA in partnership with the ICC Yaounde, and the Nigerian Navy.