President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday in Accra, Ghana, identified regular meetings among the countries that make up the Gulf of Guinea Commission as a critical route towards achieving peace and security in the region.
Speaking for the last time as Nigeria’s President at the 3rd Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC), taking place in the Ghanaian capital, President Buhari stressed that the theme of the Session “Building a Safe, Secure and Prosperous Gulf of Guinea Region for Sustainable Development” is quite apt and significant towards addressing the challenges in the Region.
According to him, “we must remain committed to our regular GGC Summits and the Extraordinary Sessions and use these deep-seated fundamental platforms to essentially continue to work out key modalities that could afford us the opportunity to discuss, identify, support strategies and develop capacities to achieve peace, security and prosperity in the Gulf of Guinea Region.”
Reiterating Nigeria’s commitment and steps towards fighting maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea, President Buhari encouraged member countries to enact laws against piracy and other criminal acts as Nigeria has done.
He expounded on steps so far taken by the country to further show its steadfastness to the revitalization and strengthening of the GGC in order to achieve set objectives.
“As a demonstration of Nigeria’s strong commitment towards the repositioning of the GGC into a more vibrant organization that will effectively deliver on its mandate, the 5th Ordinary Summit of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Gulf of Guinea Commission was hosted on 13th October, 2022 in Abuja, where the Assembly adopted policy decisions towards revitalising the Commission.
“Nigeria considers the effective and optimal function of the GGC as strategic to the global security interests in the Gulf region. These commitments include addressing issues of Piracy, Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons, Protection of Marine Resources as well as Irregular Migration to the Region,” he said.
Speaking further, the President said that “in June, 2019, Nigeria’s National Assembly passed the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act, 2019, (POMO act) which aims to prevent and suppress Piracy, Armed Robbery and any other unlawful acts against any ship lawfully operating in the Gulf Region.
“Nigeria continues to deploy significant resources towards tackling Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. In June 2021, the Government of Nigeria unveiled One Hundred and Ninety-Five Million Dollars’ worth of Boats, Vehicles and Aircraft to spear-head the country’s fight against Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea through the Deep Blue Project,” he added.
The Nigerian leader used the occasion to express his appreciation to President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, the Chairperson of the Assembly, for the invitation, as well as Ambassador Florence Ukonga, the Nigerian outgoing Executive Secretary of the GGC and her Management Team for their dedication and selflessness in the discharge of their functions.
President Buhari especially commended the dignified way Ambassador Ukonga had faced the daunting financial challenges in a way that it did not compromise the integrity of the organization, urging member countries to be alive to their financial commitments and responsibilities.
He further lauded the team for elevating “the status of the GGC to such a level that enables it to partner with the African Union to implement some of her sub-regional programmes on maritime security, safety and sustainable developmental issues with profound impact on Central and West Africa.
“We very much look forward to May 15, 2023, when the proposed joint Africa Naval Exercise of the Commission would take place in Lagos,” he said.
In his welcome address, President Nana Akufo- Addo expressed his delight at the physical Summit, after several virtual meetings since 2019 due to COVID-19 pandemic.
He reminded delegates of the challenges the Commission faced, enjoining Member States to promptly discharge their financial obligations to enable it fulfill her statutory responsibilities.