To Tackle Maritime Crimes, Boost Blue Economy, Tinubu Inaugurates Three Naval Ships, Two Helicopters 

…Charges Nigerian Navy to build strategic partnerships to 

tap into $405 billion Africa Blue Economy projection 

Chiemelie Ezeobi 

To tackle endemic maritime crimes, as well as boost the nation’s Blue Economy, President Bola Tinubu, Thursday inaugurated three Nigerian Navy (NN) ships and two helicopters at the Naval Dockyard, Victoria Island, Lagos.

The inauguration of the platforms was part of activities lined up for the celebration of the 68th anniversary of the Nigerian Navy as well as the fifth International Maritime Conference. 

Tinubu, who was represented by Vice President Shettima, noted that since the formation of the Nigerian Navy 68 years ago, the service had continued to confront contending issues by adopting what he described as the most optimal policies and strategies to address the rapidly changing security challenges in the nation.

Noting that the conference, with the theme “Promoting the Blue Economy in Africa through International Cooperation on Maritime Security,” was apt as it encapsulated the major objective of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14, the Vision of Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy 2050, and a key target of Africa’s Agenda 2063, he said it also offered the best platform for relevant stakeholders to articulate the mechanism for collaborative action against maritime crimes in Africa.

Stressing that the conference was held at a critical period when Nigeria was faced with multifaceted security challenges, he noted that improvement in security conditions was required to significantly raise the contribution of the marine and blue economy sector to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.

He said, “Significantly, the blue economy is estimated to be worth more than US $1.5 trillion per year globally and projected to increase to US $15.5 trillion by 2050. 

“The Africa Blue Economy Strategy estimates that the blue economy currently generates nearly US $300 billion for the continent, creating 49 million jobs in the process. 

“The Africa Blue Economy is projected to hit US $405 billion by 2030. It is very appropriate to state categorically that any collaborative initiative by the Nigerian Navy to build partnerships across African navies and Coast Guards is in the right direction.”

The Nigerian Navy, according to him, had over the years evolved and reinvented itself to effectively deal with the threats in the maritime domains and had also partnered with other maritime agencies to mitigate the threats affecting the country’s national development.

He said, “These threats have become transnational, beyond the scope and capability of one nation to deal with. The situation calls for greater international collaboration. 

“With the array of distinguished officers present at this event from outside the shores of our country, it is very obvious that the Nigerian Navy has assembled a remarkable group of outstanding persons with extensive and much desired collaborative commitment towards finding solutions to the myriad of security challenges in Africa’s maritime environment.”

In his remarks, the Minister of state for Defence, Dr. Bello Matawalle, noted that since the establishment of the Nigerian Navy 68 years ago, it had been a symbol of pride to the nation, diligently carrying out its duties of safeguarding the economic interests of the nation with unparalleled professionalism.

 He expressed optimism that the engagement and deliberations during the conference would produce innovative ways to improve professionalism and efficiency, translating to a secure maritime environment for the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria, and all seafarers,  to conduct legitimate business for economic prosperity and national development. 

He said, ‘I believe that the outcomes of this conference will contribute to actualising the vision of the President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for a prosperous Nigeria.’ 

Earlier in his welcome address, the Chief of the Naval Staff, CNS Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, described maritime threats as transnational in nature and capable of hampering the potential of the blue economy of nations. 

He said ameliorating these threats was beyond the scope and capability of one nation but required international collaborative efforts.

He said: “It is believed that this conference will provide a viable platform to collectively develop strategies in addressing Africa’s inherent security challenges arising from the development of the blue economy.”

Ogalla highlighted past regional and continental levels of cooperation and collaboration aimed at achieving sustainable maritime security architecture in Africa, including the Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy 2050 and the 2013 Yaounde Declaration, which established the Code of Conduct, Memorandum of Understanding, and Protocols for collective maritime security initiatives for member states of the Gulf of Guinea. 

These initiatives, he said, attested to the political level commitment to security and developmental imperatives in the continent’s maritime domain.

The CNS also recalled that as part of regional initiatives to promote maritime security, the African Union, through its communique 1012 of 2021, established the Combined Maritime Task Force for the region. 

He explained that ” In line with its 2021 – 2030 strategic plan, the Nigerian Navy embarked on fleet recapitalisation, manpower development, indigenous shipbuilding efforts and strategic partnership to secure Nigeria’s maritime domain and by extension, the Gulf of Guinea region.

 “Recently, the Nigerian Navy Hydrography Department was upgraded to the National Hydrographic Agency. This is with a view to improving charting and seabed mapping of Nigeria’s maritime domain.

“ The Nigerian Navy’s Naval Dockyard Limited have also embarked on ship repair efforts and trainings for our friendly navies.  

“For instance, the Naval Dockyard is carrying out extensive repairs of six Benin Republic naval ships. Presently three of the ships: BNS PENDJARI, BNS CUOFFO and BNS MATELOT BRICE KPOMASSE are currently in the dock undergoing major refits. 

“These activities highlight our resolve to ensure maritime security for harnessing the enormous potential of the Blue Economy for national development and economic prosperity in the region. 

“These acquisitions, ship building efforts as well as several other Offshore Patrol Vessels expected into the Nigerian Navy’s inventory within 2024, showcases Nigerian Navy’s preparedness for the protection of our Blue Economy. 

“The Regional Maritime Exercise (REMEX) involving 17 ships which includes ships of five friendly navies from Brazil, China, Cameroun, Ghana and Togo participating in the Exercise, was also flagged off this morning (Thursday)”, he said, attributing the successes of the Navy to the support of the Tinubu- led administration. 

Also speaking at the event, Lagos State Deputy Governor, Obafemi Hamzat, described the Nigerian Navy’s service as the bedrock of the nation’s maritime security and a source of national pride. 

He called for the need to honor personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, noting that their legacy inspired all to strive for excellence and uphold the values they fought to protect. 

The event, according to him, was not only a celebration of the achievements and contributions of the Nigerian Navy but also a testament to the collective commitment to maritime security  and the state’s strategic significance in the maritime industry, both locally and internationally. 

He said: “‘Our gathering here in Lagos, a city that has long stood as the gateway to Nigeria’s maritime domain, reminds us of the critical role our waters play in the socio-economic development of our state and country. Lagos, as a bustling port city, thrives on the efficiency and safety of its maritime activities. 

Our ports are the lifeline of not just Lagos but the entire country, facilitating trade and contributing significantly to our GDP. Therefore, it is imperative that we support initiatives aimed at enhancing maritime security and fostering international partnerships towards harnessing the huge but largely untapped potential in our blue economy..”

“As a government, we will continue to acknowledge and show appreciation to all our military officers, both serving and retired, so that their efforts and sacrifices will not be forgotten. This appreciative attitude on our part is particularly imperative at this period when our nation is faced with the challenges of terrorism and insurgency”.

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