From left: Captain Bell Bell, Inter-regional Coordination Centre (ICC); Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, Rear Admiral Saidu Garba, Chief of Policy and Plans, Naval Headquarters, representing the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Auwal Zubairu Gambo; Dr. Paul Adalikwu, Secretary General of Maritime Organization of West and Central Africa (MOWCA) and Mr John Stawpert, Senior Manager (Environment and Trade), International Chamber of Shipping at the press conference during the 5th Plenary Session of the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum/Shared Awareness and De-confliction in Abuja.
By Ignatius Ushie
Nigeria, which hitherto was the worst hit by piracy incidents, has recorded two quarters of zero attack in the Gulf of Guinea in 2022. This was disclosed by Dr. Bashir Yusuf Jamoh, Director-General of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), on Tuesday at the 5th Plenary of the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum/Shared Awareness and De-confliction (GOG-MCF/SHADE) in Abuja with the theme: ‘Enduring and Sustainable Security’.
The NIMASA Boss, however, noted that while celebrating the Successes so far made, deliberations at the two days workshop must be forward-looking even as it seeks to provide specific ways to maintain the current momentum.
He urged stakeholders to focus discussions on issues that would offer concrete solutions to ensure sustainability; Sustain the activities already achieved and build on success that deepen the relationship with the YCOC and other stakeholders such as the UNODC, and G7++FPGG.
According to him, “Personally, | 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 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. Permit me to especially thank the audience at all past SHADE plenaries and the working group members who have’ shown unprecedented engagement with its objectives. I congratulate you on your significant achievements so far. The 30 Working Groups and Four virtual plenary meetings have been the real drivers of change.
“While it is important to recognise success so far made, the future must however be the focus. Our deliberations over the next two days must be forward-looking even as it seeks to provide specific ways to maintain the current momentum, offer concrete solutions to ensure sustainability; Sustain the activities already achieved and build on success and deepen the relationship with the YCOC and other stakeholders such as the UNODC, and G7++FPGG” he said.
Jamoh further warned that more is yet to be done by rallying all state and non-state actors in the region to become believers in the SHADE and what it represents for our collective progress.
Earlier, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, noted that the GoG has a coastline of about 2,874 nm endowed with hydrocarbon and mineral deposits and a comparative advantage owing to the absence of narrow maritime shipping lanes, straits or check points linking major global shipping destinations.
Vice Admiral Gambo, who was represented at the occasion 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 event was attended by key stakeholders in Maritime across West Africa Sub Region including the Secretary General of MOWCA. Dr. Paul Adalikwu.