THE Director, Directorate of Intelligence, U.S. Africa Command has observed that illegal maritime activities is largely responsible for pronounced food insecurity, the slide in compliance with the rule of law and the unstable economic development in the Gulf of Guinea(GOG) region.
Berg made this known recently in her remarks at the opening ceremony of the sea exercise Obangame Express at the Naval Dockyard Limited in Lagos; a 9th edition exercise in which no fewer than 31 African and Allied countries are participating.
Berg while lauding the commitment of the 31 nations scheduled to participate in the year’s exercise, also stressed the need to work towards curbing maritime illegalities which currently undermines the rule of law in the region.
“Maritime illegalities such as illegal fishing, trafficking of weapons, narcotics and people, as well as the ongoing threat of piracy, undermined the rule of law, food security, and economic development in the region.
“This exercise is a clear demonstration of the U. S. dedication to combat these illicit activities and help our partners in the GOG to provide security for their resources, their economy, and their people.
“Obangame Express 2019 will make the region a safe place for maritime commerce and ultimately help increase prosperity of the region,” Berg said.
The United States Consul General Mr John Bray, in his remarks, noted that Obangame Exercise had grown in leaps and bounds, both in complexity and in accomplishment.
“We note the efforts by regional navies to work together in the spirit of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct.
“This togetherness is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness, and information-sharing to enhance the collective capabilities of GOG and West African nations to counter sea-based illicit activity,” Bray remarked.
The Chief of the Naval Staff(CNS), Vice Adm. Ibok- EtteIbas, while addresing delegates from 31 countries of the world said this year’s exercise provided another unique opportunity to appraise operational and tactical scenarios akin to real life challenges commonly experienced within the region.
“I must therefore specially commend the navies of the Kingdom of Morocco, Portugal and the United States that have dispatched warships as well as other regional navies that have sent personnel to participate in this year’s Exercise OBANGAME EXPRESS.
“I am pleased to mention that the navy along with the navies of ECOWAS Zone E and the Gendarmerie of Niger Republic have been in the vanguard of efforts to build synergy across boundaries necessary to mitigate maritime security challenges within the zone.
“Under the ECOWAS Integrated Maritime Strategy, the member states have endorsed a memorandum of understanding for joint patrols of their common Maritime,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Adm. Ibok-EtteIbas has indicated that the Nigerian Navy has inaugurated Regional Maritime Awareness Domain (RMDA) Training school in Lagos to assist naval personnel in tackling maritime security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea (GOG).
Speaking in Lagos at the opening ceremony of the regional sea exercise, code named “Obangame Express”, Ibas said, noting that the school would enhance maritime surveillance and the operationalization of the Yaoundé Accord.
He said that the RMDA training school was facilitated by the US Government and urged regional navies to seize the opportunity for joint training offered to steadily improve capacity for collective response to security challenges in the GOG.
“The training school will also facilitate the synergy and cooperation between GOG countries in fulfillment and operationalisation of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct,” he said.
On the sea exercise Obangame Express, Ibas thanked all the participating countries for their contributions in ensuring peace, stability and safe conduct in the maritime domain.
“It is common dictum that the vast resources and opportunities in the maritime environment of the GOG hold the prospect to finding solution to the economic and developmental aspirations of African states.
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