…..Emerges Chairman of Gulf of Guinea Commission
President Muhammadu Buhari has called for the strengthening of efforts against piracy, human trafficking and other criminal activities in the Gulf of Guinea (GGC).
Buhari, who was represented by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, made this call in Abuja on Thursday, at the 4th Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC).
Speaking shortly after the confirmation of his appointment as the new chairman of GGC, the President stressed on renewed commitment to deal with emerging socio-economic and security challenges facing the commission.
He noted that the members could achieve this by collectively taking measures to check violations of domestic and international treaties in the Gulf of Guinea.
He said: “In conformity with the theme of the 4th Ordinary Session which is: ‘A Vibrant Gulf of Guinea Region for sustainable Development’, let us renew our commitment to making the Gulf of Guinea more effective
and a truly vibrant partner in all our efforts, be the regional, national or international, to ensure a zone of peace, security and sustainable development for our countries, our peoples and other stakeholders in the region.”
Buhari listed the challenges facing the commission to include a rise in maritime insurance premiums for vessels coming into the Gulf of Guinea, increased threats and reduced commercial traffic to the region as well as unregulated and unreported fishing along the Gulf of Guinea.
He also charged the member states to take measures to reduce pollution and environmental degradation in the Gulf of Guinea.
Buhari, however, commended individual efforts of some of the member states who improved the capacities and capability of their Navy and other relevant organisations to enable them perform their duties more effectively.
He also commended ECOWAS and Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS/CEEAC) for establishing maritime regional centres for maritime security.
Speaking further, the President called on the member states to always fulfill their financial dues and obligations to the commission to ensure effective operation and performance of the CGC.
He also congratulated Ghana for being a new member of the Commission, while commending the staff of the GGC secretariat for their untiring efforts in sustaining the commission.
Ealier, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj-Gen. Babagana Mungonu (rtd), stressed that the current situation in the Gulf of Guinea region especially “the surge in illegal activities of piracy, illicit drugs, arms and human trafficking,
illegal immigration, environmental pollution and degradation calls for greater attention to be paid by members countries to curbing these activities”.
Monguno noted that maritime security and economic prosperity are interdependent and mutually re-enforcing.
According to him, improvement of maritime security can positively contribute to increased national, regional and continental stability and by the same token make a sustainable contribution to global security.
He said Nigeria has continued to develop the capacity of its armed forces particularly the Navy and other Maritime agencies to effectively tackle these challenges.
Also speaking, the Secretary of the Commission, Dr. Florence Adenike Ukong, said the secretariat has proposed a plan of revitalisation of the commission which among other structural and cultural measures has set up five specialized committees.
Ukong said the first is the Peace and security committee which is expected to address issues of related to drug trafficking, arms trafficking, maritime piracy, human trafficking, development of security architecture for the maritime space, illegal bunkering, money laundry and other financial crimes.
She said the idea to establish the committees is to involve relevant agencies of member states to deliberate more freely and exchange views on best practices adopted in each state to tackle identified problems and recommend such for region-wide adoption, adaptation and implementation.
Ukong said the adoption of the revitalisation plan of the commission will enable it redouble its efforts to implement the objectives for which it was established.