30th November, 2015
Okafor Ofiebor/ Port Harcourt
Following the economic woes facing Nigeria and the attendant financial crisis due to the dwindling revenue from oil resources, the Delta State Governor, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Okowa has challenged the Nigerian Navy to ensure effective maritime security.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of a 2-day retreat for the Nigerian Navy in Asaba on Monday, Governor Okowa decried high rate of piracy, crude oil theft, illegal bunkering, pipeline vandalism and other criminal activities in the nation’s maritime domain.
“It is an incontrovertible fact that maritime security and national prosperity are inextricably linked together; therefore, at this critical juncture in the nation’s history, I expect the Nigerian Navy to treat the issue of maritime security as a national emergency because today, the country is hanging precariously on a financial cliff owing to dwindling receipts to the Federation Account occasioned by the falling oil prices,” the Governor said
He added that “piracy in the Gulf of Guinea has continued to prosper; rampant crude oil theft, illegal bunkering and pipeline vandalism are still flourishing and Nigeria loses between 40,000 and 100,000 barrels (of crude oil) a day due to theft while illegal fishing (poaching) and pollution that threatens the local food supply is also thriving in addition to the fact that drug and human trafficking are enjoying a boom in the West African coastlines.”
While commending the Nigerian Navy and other security agencies for battling crime and criminal activities in the maritime sector, Governor Okowa said Delta State, “as an oil producing state, is caught in the crosshairs of these unfortunate development in the maritime sector as the state has continued to lose huge revenues to oil thieves and pipeline vandals, with severe adverse consequences on our already depleted finances.”
He described the theme for the retreat, “Nigerian Navy and Emerging Maritime Security Challenges” as apt, expressing confidence that the outcome of the retreat would shape the policy direction for security and governance in the Gulf of Guinea of which Nigeria is a major part.
Minister of Defence, Muhammad Mansur Dan-Ali whose address was read by General Gabriel Olonisakin stated that Nigeria was contending with different security challenges and the Nigerian Navy had the responsibility to synergize strategies to tackle the security challenges in the maritime domain.
Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ibas disclosed that the retreat started in 2007 to reappraise emerging challenges facing the Navy and to proffer solutions to them while Rear Admiral Johnson Olutoyin had in his opening remark, thanked Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for providing the enabling environment for the retreat to take place.