Your Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, permit me to welcome you all on behalf of the conveners of this Conference. This Conference is organised to examine and address the issues of maritime security with a spotlight on the Gulf of Guinea Region.
No doubt, there is a significant global concern on the rising spate of maritime insecurity and the perception that the Gulf of Guinea Region accounts for most of these cases. It is for this reason that Nigeria has decided to take the lead on behalf of the Gulf of Guinea states in convening this Conference to examine the strategies and coordinated responses in place to address maritime insecurity
Whilst there have been several endeavors to address the broad array of real and potential threats in the Gulf of Guinea over time, the approach this time is to appraise the relevance and impacts of the various interventions initiated already to tackle maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea to revise and adapt them to address the current challenges.
The absence of legal frameworks within member states seems to be a significant challenge in the regional effort to stem the tide. Nigeria, in this regard thankfully has put in place detailed legislation in the form of a Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act to tackle and repress piracy and other maritime crimes in the Nigerian maritime domain.
An integrated maritime security architecture has also been emplaced with a command and control centre for effective policing of the Nigerian waters.
The initiative encompasses three main components:
A C4-I Intelligence system to enhance domain awareness; acquisition of land, air and marine assets for patrols, quick response and interdiction; and
the retraining and capacity building of military response teams to effectively respond to threats and incidents within the maritime domain.
Our prosperity as nation-states today has an inextricable linkage to maritime security considering that over 90% of world international trade is by sea. Thus striving to maintain safe, secure shipping in our seas and oceans is non-negotiable.
I firmly believe that the result of our efforts would foster better cooperation in addressing the challenges of maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea for the overall benefit of member states and the world at large.
As we open the dialogue and explore maritime security options for dealing with the challenges and opportunities to forge new alliances; the development of practical ideas and initiatives would undoubtedly be birthed through the robust discussions that would ensue in the coming days of the Conference. This, no doubt will complement already established initiatives in the African region.
I am proud to welcome you all to Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea. This Conference is made possible by the Nigerian government and supported by the leading international organizations and industry stakeholders who share a common vision of seeing a safe and secure Gulf of Guinea that will remain the epicenter of economic, political, military and cultural medley.
The most valuable element at the heart of the solution we seek is “COLLABORATION AND PARTNERSHIP”. I have no doubts in my mind that this Conference will push the realization of the security solution we seek for the Gulf of Guinea and the global shipping community
Tank you very much