NNS OKPABANA with Personnel
The Nigerian navy has adopted a new strategy towards eradicating criminalities in the nation’s waterways particularly the Gulf of Guinea GOG. It is partnering with about six countries’ navies to tackle piracy, sea robbery and other notable maritime crimes prevalent along the waterways of West Africa.
The participating countries navies include France, China, Portugal, Cameroun, Togo and Ghana. The countries are participating in a joint naval exercise code named “EKU KEGBE” which will showcase more than eighteen naval warships participating of which 12 are Nigerian ships.
While commemorating the 62nd anniversary of the Nigerian Navy on board NNS OKPABANA at the Naval dockyard in Lagos, THE Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Ibok Ette Ibas revealed this development while assuring the nation those incidences of piracies and other criminalities in the gulf of guinea will be drastically reduced.
Rear Admiral Ibokette Ibas
According to Ibas “This exercise also enjoys the support of other friendly navies beyond the Economic Community of West African States ECOWAS and Economic Community of Central African States.
According to him “Twelve naval ships from Nigeria, and one each from the countries of France, China, Portugal, Ghana, Cameroun and Togo will participate in the exercise.
“The exercise is aim at promoting regional cooperation and coordination for the enhancement of maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea as it is rich in living and non-living resources including oil and gas and fisheries.
“The gulf of Guinea is also the primary conduits of international trade and is central to the economies of the surrounding regions and is looked upon today as a resource provider and critical contributor to the national growth and prosperity of several nations lining its coast and even those landward with no shared boundaries” he added.
Ibas, therefore, listed challenges threatening the resourcefulness of the gulf which must be eliminated. Such include maritime terrorism, resource theft, sabotaging of their infrastructure, piracy and armed robbery, seaborne trafficking in humans, narcotic and arms, as well as incidents of smuggling are some of the threats and challenges face in this region.
The CNS therefore opined that “it is imperative that an environment conducive for the unhindered conduct of shipping, fishing, offshore exploration and other maritime interest that contribute to economic growth and national development is established’.
Flagging off the EkU kEGBE Naval Exercises
This explains why the Navy must be alert at all times by conducting regional re invention and strategies to maintain security and peace in the waterways. According to him “the naval exercise EKU KEGBE is consolidating the advocated regional co-operation which is increasingly the preferred approach to tackling threat migration across national borders.
Also present to flag off the exercise, the Nigerian Chief of Defence Staff General Gabriel Olonisakin said the exercise is very necessary to safeguard the huge resources and potentials of the Gulf of Guinea.
“I am happy to note that within the limits of available resources, the navy has been focused and proactive in combating the myriads of threats and illegal activities in Nigeria’s maritime domain and extending to the Gulf of Guinea” He said.
“A sea exercise such as the one we are about to embark on can only take place when the ships are operational. I therefore congratulate the Nigerian Navy and all the participating nations on their ability to maintain their assets and make them operationally ready for the exercise” Olonisakin said.
At the epoch making ceremony were service chiefs and senior military officers both serving and retired including the Chief of Army Staff Lt General Tukur Buratai.