Nigeria’s President Olusegun Obasanjo has called on naval forces in Africa to tackle pirates troubling waterways around 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 the navies of 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 globalised 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 havens for their criminal activities.
A co-operation by the African naval forces will enable countries with small naval forces to draw strength from those with more developed navies, especially in ending sea piracy and disruption of oil production within the waters of oil producing states, he added.
“We in Nigeria recognise the need for the entrenchment of collective security for Africa and have not only preached it, but have been known to spearhead it. Our maritime environment must not be available for terrorists, pirates and illegal explorers to use," he told delegates.
“Furthermore, the use of Africa’s waters for gun-running, illicit people trafficking and destabilisation 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."