By Suleiman Umaru
President Muhammadu Buhari appears to have used the Nigerian Economic Summit, popular, NES, and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, global maritime security Conference in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, on Monday, October 7, 2019 to make a bold Statement.
Buhari, and his ministers had attended the NES, accompanied by Rotimi Amaechi, the minister of Transportation and other ministers and Heads of security agencies, leaving only Gbemisola Saraki,a Senator and minister of state , Transportation, to Join Dakuku Peterside, the NIMASA Director General at the Global Maritime Security Forum.
The appearance of the Katsina state born Nigerian President and his key ministers at the NES premises, may have forced many top security agencies personnel including Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, Inspector General of Police, IGP, and Magaji Bichi, Director General, Department of State Security, to accompany him. The Katsina state born Nigerian President may have taken advantage of the NES, to speak about the economic polies of his Administration and to make some policy Statements.
He had told the participants that the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, government would continue to provide jobs and all-inclusive growth in the economy’’. Appealing to the public and private sector leaders to look inward, he noted that it is the only to ‘’solve the unique challenges confronting the nation’s socio-economic development’’.
The President who could not hide his feelings was said to have assured the private sector leaders of the determination of his Administration to Collaborate with the private sector in designing and implementing the developmental projects that would keep the economy on track for sustained , inclusive and prosperity –driven growth.
He may have shocked the NES participants when he revealed that a significant proportion of the country’s prosperity is concentrated in the hands of a few people living primarily in five states of the Federation but failed to name the states . Recall that the Asset Management Organisation of Nigeria, AMCON had listed 20 individuals and Companies as indebted to the Oeganisation to the tune of over 5 trillion.
Many believe that this may have given the President the ammunition to say that the country’s prosperity is concentrated in a few hands spread in five states of the Federation.
Although, the President may not have attended the NIMASA global security Conference, also in Abuja, but his Statement speaks volume. He had given his words to the Maritime Regulatory agency that the government is determined to ‘’rid the nation’s water ways of all forms of criminalities’’, stressing that with the cooperation of the international Community , the Gulf of Guinea maritime domain would be free from the activities of pirates. This is bad news for the pirates and water ways smugglers, particular in the Niger Delta region.
Note that the NIMASA global maritime security Conference was the first of its kind in the Gulf of Guinea maritime domain. Insiders informed The Value News that the Federal ministry of Transportation and the Navy under the close watch of Ibok Ekwe Ibas, a Vice Admiral, had partnered with NIMASA in hosting the 3-day international maritime security Conference.
Giving an assessment of the security situation at the Gulf of Guinea in the recent time with the involvement of the government security architecture in the process, an elated Buhari had said that the maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea were already yielding results. He was said to have backed his arguments with statistical reports from the International Maritime Bureau Piracy reporting center.
He disclosed that the convening of the global maritime security Conference in Nigeria at the instance of the International Maritime Organisation, IMO, has strengthened the resolve of the government to intensify its efforts to rid the country waterways of the piracy scourge.
Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers state, and the minister of Transportation, on his part, said there is no other better way to tackle the pirates operating in the Gulf of Guinea ,other than through’’ global cooperation. It’’ is not surprising why Peterside, the NIMASA, Director General and a one-time governorship Candidate of the APC, in Rivers state, has advocated for intensified ‘’global response to the security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea’’. Also, the President had told those who cares to listen that to’’ succeed in the fight against piracy in the Gulf of Guinea axis, requires the collective efforts of all stakeholders’’.
He has every reason to think so, explaining that as the African Continent enters into the second phase of negotiations for the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area, AFCFTA, safety and security of ships and Crew members in sea transportation became more critical to ‘’seamless trade and effective economic integration’’.
Our approach towards the realization of maritime security in the West and Central African sub-regions and other vital sea lanes, he said, is’’ contingent on the collective effort and ability to put in place international frameworks and resources in cooperation with critical stakeholders’’.
Peterside,the Rivers state born politician NIMASA, helmsman, said the agency took the bold initiative to Convene the Conference to examine the challenges of the Gulf of Guinea maritime security. According to him, Nigeria, alone, accounts for 65 percent of cargoes generated from the Gulf of Guinea region and with rich endowments in oil and gas reserves.
He noted that this is in addition to identifying the objectives of defining the scope of coordinated regional responses to maritime security, from external actors and partners, evaluating the relevance and impacts of the various intervention efforts as well as moving towards harmonization and practical implementation through regional integration and cooperation.
Ibas , the Chief of Naval Staff whose Naval patrol boats, particular, in the EAStern Naval Command, has been very effective, said drawing from the total spectrum of maritime strategy , the Navy had sustained the operational concept of the maritime security Action plan comprising of surveillance capabilities, response initiatives and law enforcement to fight maritime crimes.
Kitack Lin, Secretary General, IMO, in his goodwill message to NIMASA, had assured other member states of the Organisation of support to enhance their maritime security. ‘’Together we can team up to deploy resources from all stakeholders in order to comprehensively address maritime security within the region’’, he remarked.
Major General Bashir Salihi, rtd, minister of Defense, Florentina Adenike Ukonga, Executive Secretary, Gulf of Guinea Commission, Moussa Faki, Chairman, African Union Commission including Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS and ECCAS, Presidents were said to have also sent goodwill messages to NIMASA. That much was confirmed by Isechei Osamgbi, a Deputy Director, and NIMASA, Spokesperson.
The global maritime security Conference, which had entered , its second day on Tuesday, October8, 2019, is expected to come to an end on Wednesday, October 9, 2019. At the last count , about 500 foreigners and over 2000 people , were said to have registered for the 3-day Conference.
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