African naval chiefs discuss terrorism

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A conference of African Naval Force, designed to seek common ground to fight a common enemy opened recently in Nigeria with President Olusegun Obasanjo tasking the force to come together and tackle sea terrorism.

Nigeria’s President Olusegun Obasanjo has called on naval forces in Africa to come together and tackle “sea terrorists” currently causing troubles in the water ways within the continent.

He said this malaise poses a threat to the socio-economic development of the continent, calling on government within the country to consider giving priority attention to equipping their navies in their various countries.

He spoke during the opening of the second edition of the Sea Power for African Symposium in Abuja, Nigeria saying that, African waters with three world trade points, are now the bee hive of illegal activities and unlawful harvesters of resources within the sea.
He said: “The world is fast becoming globalized and the global economy is fuelled by international trade, most of which is sea-borne. This underscores the critical significance of ensuring the security of the world\\\’s oceans.\\\”

The Nigerian President also called for a better cooperation among African Navies so as to end to the frequent threat to lives by crude oil thieves who have converted African waterways into safe haven for their criminal activities.

Obasanjo explains that \\\”Co-operation and development for enhancement of Africa\\\’s maritime capabilities\\\”, which is the theme of this symposium, effectively captures the need to evolve a collective maritime security arrangement for the continent and the need to use sea power to enhance Africa\\\’s initiatives for peace, stability, as well as social and economic development.
The cooperation by the African Naval forces, he further noted will enable countries with small naval forces, to draw strength from those with more developed navies, especially in ending sea piracy and the disruption of oil production within the waters of oil rich economies.

“We in Nigeria recognize the need for the entrenchment of collective security for Africa and have not only preached it, but have been known to spear head it. Our maritime environment must not be available for terrorists, pirates and illegal explorers to use.

“Further more, the use of Africa’s waters for gun running, illicit trafficking in people and destabilization of social, political and economic programmes of legitimates governments must be prevented,” he added.

Obasanjo told the over 200 participants from the United States, Britain, Germany and 47 African countries, that \\\”Sea power must not only be seen as military power at sea for the projection of force abroad, but more as our ability to protect our political, economic and social interests by ensuring a secure and safe maritime environment for the development of Africa.\\\”

Earlier, Nigeria’s Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ganiyu Adekeye, said the acceptance to host the symposium in Nigeria at this time \\\”is borne out of the disturbing absence of any forum for intellectual discourse on common maritime issues affecting African navies.\\\”

According to him: \\\”The symposium is in line with the spirit of the New Partnership for Africa\\\’s Development (NEPAD) and the consistent Afro-centric foreign policy of Nigeria which seeks peaceful, mutually beneficial and developmental co-operation with other African states.\\\”