The Federal Government and the Institute CAMOES IP of the European Union (EU), have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the donation of two additional Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBS) to Nigeria to boost the fight against maritime insecurity in Nigeria’s inland waterways and the Gulf of Guinea.
The virtual MoU was signed on Tuesday by Nigeria’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada on behalf of the Federal Government in Abuja, while the President of Institute CAMOES IP, Jao Ribero de Almeida, signed on behalf of the Institute in far away Portugal.
Ambassador Dada in his remarks, commended the EU for being a very strategic and reliable partner to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and for donating 30 RHIBS and the forensic equipment valued at 5.4 million Euros to 12 ECOWAS Coastal member-states under the EU Project to aupport West Africa Integrated Maritime Security (SWAIMS).
He also commended the ECOWAS Commission for coordinating the process leading to the MoU.
According to Ambassador Dada, maritime insecurity is a major challenge threatening the blue economy in the West African sub-region and also impeding the maximization of West Africa’s strategic littoral potential as well as causing instability in the Gulf of Guinea.
He said, “it is a known fact that the Gulf of Guinea is a major commercial hub for huge economic prospects but regrettably due to the security challenges confronting the region, the Gulf of Guinea had once gained notoriety as the new danger zone in the global maritime space.”
He, however, noted that since the launch of the ECOWAS Integrated Maritime Strategy in 2014, there has been considerable decline in the threat in the West Africa maritime space.
This, he said, has led the International Maritime Bureau to remove countries in the region including Nigeria from its piracy hotspots list.
“This positive outcome in our maritime security was partly made possible because of the synergy of activities and responses by both ECOWAS member states and development partners as well as improvement in maritime surveillance equipment.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that the robust presence of Nigeria’s deep blue project coupled with the efforts of the current leadership of the sub regional maritime security center and the regional multinational efforts have substantially reduced piracy in the West African littoral states,” he said.
He, however, noted that there was still room for improvement, adding that EU’s donation of two additional boats to Nigeria under the SWAIMS programme, will in no small measure, strengthen the resolve of the Nigerian Navy to fight maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea.
The minister also announced that the Federal Government has appointed Commodore NS Lakan of the Nigerian Navy as the National Focal Person on RHIBS.
Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Samuela Isopi, in her remarks, said the EU provides a comprehensive engagement in the Gulf of Guinea including regional capacity building programme amounting to over 100 million Euros.
“Our support comes from the mutual interest of the security of the population and natural resources and safeguard the common interests we have in preserving global trade.
“The SWAIMS programme plays a very important role in the support EU gives to ECOWAS, and with a budget of € 28 million, the SWAIMS project is the largest of its kind, providing at the same time training, legal and operational advice,” she said.