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FG mulls plan to combat maritime insecurity -Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has said the Federal Government was working on a Maritime Transport Plan and Strategy to provide a robust framework for achieving Nigerian maritime objectives.

Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Amb. Zubairu Dada, disclosed this at the Global Maritime Security Conference on Monday in Abuja.

The theme of the conference ”Managing and Securing Our Waters” was organised by the Federal ministry of Transport, in conjunction with the Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Navy.

Buhari said that the Maritime Transport Plan and Strategy would foster public-private sector collaboration and inter-regional cooperation on maritime security across the continent.

“This conference is an essential step in a continuing shift in strategic thinking about global maritime security.

“It will no doubt provide an opportunity for stakeholders to develop strategies to improve maritime safety and security globally with an emphasis on the Gulf of Guinea Region.”

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He said that Nigeria had put in place a Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Act, which was signed into law on June 24.

He said that Act seeks to give further credence to the relevant international treaties of the United Nations and International Maritime Organisation ratified by Nigeria and the continental and regional treaties subscribed to on maritime safety and security.

“It is detailed and will provide the much needed legal and institutional framework for Nigeria to ensure safe and secure shipping in Nigeria waters.

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“In addition to the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Act, my administration has also put in place an Integrated National Surveillance and Waterways Protection Solution with Command and Control infrastructure.

“The deliverable from the project have bolstered Nigeria’s maritime security architecture and increased monitoring and compliance enforcement within the Nigerian waters, and the Exclusive Economic Zone.

“The Nigerian Navy has also stepped up collaborative efforts with other maritime security agencies aimed at achieving a safe secure maritime domain,” he said.

Buhari said the theme of the conference was not new, noting that the ”increase in threats to safe, secure shipping globally have however, heightened the focus on it, given the impact on global trade and the economic prosperity of our nations.”

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He noted that the world’s waters accounted for over 80 per cent of transportation requirements in the global trading supply chain network across established international routes and trade lanes.

“Sadly, the Gulf of Guinea today is at the epi-center of maritime security discussions globally, given the incidents recorded in the region. Available statistics, however, indicate that efforts to eradicate the menace of the governments in the region are bearing dividends,” he said.

Buhari said the convening of the conference in Nigeria was an indication that, ”We will not relent in efforts to rid our waters of the piracy scourge. To succeed in our objectives, a collective effort from all stakeholders represented here today is essential.

“I reiterate the need for a joint effort because security in the Gulf is vital and central to global trade in view of the fact that many critical trade routes connecting the continent to the rest of the world, run through the Gulf.

“Also, the Gulf of Guinea encompasses diverse geographical and rich cultural heritage with many of its States endowed with vast oil and gas deposits in addressing global demands,” he said. (NAN)