As part of measures to counter piracy and other maritime crimes, especially in the Gulf of Guinea waters the French Navy recently reiterated its partnership with its Nigerian counterpart.
This is just as the French Navy said plans were in the offing for
donation of maritime security surveillance gadgets to help deepen that relationship, as well as combat piracy, other illegality in the country’s domain.
French Defence Attache, Col Guillaume Dujon, gave the hint when he led the Commanding Officer of a visiting Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) Commandant BIROT, Commander Aurelien De Gove, and the French Naval Attache, Commander William Tosten, for a courtesy call on the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Western Naval Command (WNC), Rear Admiral Joseph Akpan.
According to him, the surveillance equipment known as Falcon 50, has a wide range and could cover the entire spectrum of the country’s maritime environment no matter where it was located.
He explained that a similar facility was already functioning in Senegal and Ghana, adding that his country would like to foster same collaboration with Nigeria to help in the fight against piracy, illegal fishing and other crimes.
Dujon said the visiting French OPV was on a cruise missing round the Gulf of Guinea, adding that once it completed its tour of duty, it would return and another ship would take over.
Reiterating the partnership, the ship’s commandant, Commander Aurelien De Gove, opined that the vessel was deployed to jointly tackle maritime crimes in the Gulf.
Recalling how the late Gen. Sani Abacha announced that French should be the second official language, Rear Admiral Akpan said the relationship between both countries dates back to the military era.
He added that the french government has an all year round project they were executing along the Gulf of Guinea from Dakar, Senegal through Nigeria, to Gabon and Angola.
He said: “For us, this is a very welcome idea. So, it’s part of the CMP program and we are glad that that program is still been continued.
” There was a time it had a break with the issues within the ship but I’m glad that cooperation has been restored. As you know, the sea is what binds all the nations round the world together and today we’re talking about new economy.
“We came to see world relevance of the sea, only that we begin to see the need for countries and nations to cooperate together, which we call the global cover even the landlocked countries depend on the sea with heavy equipment and logistics.”
He further stated that the idea of a joint taskforce to patrol the Gulf was a welcome development, adding that all the countries in the region had earlier agreed on that and were putting finishing touches to the framework.
Noting that it was impossible for a single nation to patrol the Gulf of Guinea giving the vast area and enormous resources domiciled there, he said it made the region a centre of attraction for criminally minded individuals and groups.
Rear Admiral Akpan said: “The nations of Africa came together and that has been ongoing for some time now. We have the framework written, they were to come and deliberate on the final preparation of the documents to give assent to each.
” It is not in Nigeria, it the whole of Africa and the AU was also there to give support. So it has a stand of all nations and that is a very big improvement because nations are beginning to see that no nation can do anything alone, especially with the vast area of the Gulf of Guinea, the resources there, and then the determination of criminals.
“So, we always welcome friends at sea and as you also know, to face our patrols, we have the maritime domain awareness infrastructure. It’s really helpful to us.
“We’ve seen incidences at sea, to monitor ships, some of which we have named vessels of interest, on many occasions, and this cooperation is highly welcomed.
“We are hoping that the framework will be agreed by all the nations. Operations of the framework has also been drawn. That’s remarkably on paper but I don’t have the exact communique of that meeting now so, I will not be able to tell you how or what was agreed on for now.”