By Rebecca Ejifoma
The United Kingdom (UK) Foreign Secretary, Mr. Boris Johnson yesterday in Lagos commended the role Nigeria was playing in tackling piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, pointing out that a lot of the UK’s oil came from the Nigerian Waters.
The Foreign Secretary said this during his visit to the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Unity at Naval Dockyard Limited in Victoria Island, Lagos.
Boris said: “I congratulate the Nigerian Navy for what it is doing to combat piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. We in the U.K are very proud to offer assistance to the navy to become even better in tackling piracy.
“A lot of our oil in the U.K comes through this water so it is very important that they are tackling this problem of piracy,” he said.
The Chief of Trainings and Operation, Naval Headquarters Abuja, Rear Adm. Fergusson Bobai, representing the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Adm. Ibok Ibas, said the visit was to further strengthen the existence bilateral relations between Nigeria and the UK to combat maritime crimes especially at the Gulf of Guinea.
“The age-long relationship between Nigeria and the U.K dates back before independence. As a matter of fact we got independence from them,” Ibas noted.
He continued that the UK helped them put up the Nigerian Navy and had since they been helping in terms of capacity building. “So today’s visit of the foreign Secretary is a very clear testimony of the long edge bilateral relationship military wise between UK and Nigeria.”
The CNS said the British had for many years been giving the navy training assistance, adding that it was not out of place that they see firsthand the military assistance they gave to nations.
“We also have the British training assistance team in Nigeria over some years and they have been training us in so many facets. But today’s visit anchors on what they have been training us to enable us fight piracy and other maritime crimes in the Gulf of Guinea in particular.
“So for us, I think it’s a good omen and it has indicated that our relation with the UK is going stronger so we encourage them to continue to support us in capacity building,” he said.
He noted that the British personnel in Nigeria would stay for three days specifically to conduct trainings onboard NNS Unity that had to do with fire-fighting and damage control.
“So the cooperation between the two countries is strong,” he said.
The CNS further said that the Navy’s challenges were within the riverine areas, adding that they had keyed with the U.K to getting riverine boats to patrol the creeks in the Niger Delta.
Senior officers in the Navy were also present at the visit in Lagos.