Written by John Akubo
AS the nation braces up for the increasing maritime crimes along its territorial and international waters, President Goodluck Jonathan has stressed that the Federal Government must provide all necessary equipment for the Nigerian Navy ‚Äéto effectively monitor and combat maritime crimes and harness all economic benefits therein.
Jonathan, who spoke at the Chief of Naval Staff Annual Conference 2014 in Lokoja, Kogi State, through the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Defence, Aliyu Numan, ‚Äésaid he would continue to do so to enable the navy effectively performance its roles.
Speaking on the theme of the conference, ‚ÄúTransforming for Enhanced Nigerian Navy Operational Efficiency,‚Äù he further assured that his administration would continue with the ongoing collaboration with neighbouring countries and ‚ÄéECOWAS states to ensure that the exclusive economic zone and adjoining areas within the Gulf of Guinea are secure for transit and legitimate exploration activities.
‚ÄúAlready, the Heads of States and Governments of ECOWAS have approved ‚Äéa strategy for combating the menace of piracy and other maritime crimes in West Africa,‚Äù he said.
‚ÄúPart of this ‚Äéstrategy includes setting up of maritime zones aimed at monitoring and tackling piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. Consequently, the countries of the sub-region have been grouped into zones for information coordination and action.‚Äù
The President explained that the first zone to be piloted is Zone E, comprising Nigeria, Niger, Benin and Togo, and has been activated, while there is also a partnership with the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), aimed at tackling piracy.
According to him, his administration has made concerted effort to meet requirements towards building and maintaining a credible naval force that can compete globally on equal grounds, while efforts at improving the economic wellbeing of the ‚Äécitizenry rests on safety of lives and property, with the security agencies playing strategic roles.
He commended the navy and other agencies for combating terrorism in North-eastern Nigeria, which he said would soon be overcome, while noting that the navy has helped the country in achieving a significant drop in oil theft and other illegalities being perpetrated along the creeks and waterways.
In his address, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin, said the conference was to enable the navy re-calibrate its policies and develop strategies for enhanced operational efficiency, and would also be used to generate ideas and strategies needed to confront existing and emerging security challenges to the country.
For Governor Idris Wada, the conference should equally come up with new strategies on how to combat insurgencies in some parts of the country. Wada, who was represented by his deputy, Mr. Yomi Awoniyi, thanked the navy for its contribution to security of lives and property along the state‚Äôs inland waterways.