Let me begin, by bringing you the warm felicitations of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari and to say on his behalf that the government of Nigeria consider it an honour to have been accorded to host this 4th Assembly of Heads of State and Government of Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC).
Our sincere gratitude also goes to all of the member States of the Commission for the trust and confidence in Nigeria by our preferment to the privilege of the Chair of the Commission.
Our objectives as a group, have never been as crucial as they are today. Security in the Gulf of Guinea is both a challenge to maritime safety and a significant threat to the economic prosperity of our States.
It is therefore in our national and regional interests to collaborate in this and other regional initiatives, to tackle the problems that we confront in the maritime domain of the Gulf of Guinea.
Permit me for emphasis, to reiterate the objectives of the Commission GGC as contained in its Treaty signed in Libreville, Gabon on the 3rd of July 2001, these include:
- Strengthening ties of cooperation and solidarity existing among Member States;
- Promoting close consultation in the exploitation of the natural resources of the gulf, with a view to ensuring the economic development of Member States and the well-being of our peoples;
- Protecting, preserving and improving the natural environment of the Gulf of Guinea and cooperating in the event of natural disaster and;
- Strengthening cooperation in the area of communications, especially maritime communications, with a view to facilitating ties and trade among Member States and their peoples.
But since Libreville, we have seen an escalation in the threats to security in the Gulf of Guinea, especially the wave of sea piracy, armed banditry, and the trafficking of arms, drugs and persons. Some of the economic consequences of the security challenges that we face include, a rise in maritime insurance premiums for vessels coming to the Gulf of Guinea, increased freight and reduced commercial traffic to the region.
These challenges are grave indeed, they compromise our economies and the smooth prosecution of international trade. We must also, vigorously challenge the unregulated and unreported fishing and ensure that this violation of domestic and international treaties, is reduced in the Gulf of Guinea. We should be able to collectively take measures to reduce pollution and environmental degradation in our maritime environment.
Meanwhile, I must say that the situation has evolved positively in some areas, due in large part, to our Member States’ individual efforts to improve the capacity and capability of their Navies, and other relevant Agencies to enable them perform their duties more effectively.
In this regard, I commend efforts by each Regional Economic Communities such as ECOWAS and ECCAS in establishing their Maritime Regional Centres for maritime security. This effort is capped by the establishment of the Inter-regional Coordination Centre based in Yaounde, as the collaboration link between the two Maritime Regional Centres led by ECOWAS and ECCAS.
Your Excellencies, in conformity with the theme of the 4th Ordinary Session: “A vibrant Gulf of Guinea Region for Sustainable Development”, let us renew our commitment to making the Gulf of Guinea Commission more effective, and a truly vibrant partner in all our efforts, be they national, regional or international, to ensure a zone of peace, security and sustainable development for our countries, our peoples and other stakeholders in the region.
The issue of payment of our financial dues and obligations is crucial to the effective operation and performance of the GCC. We must commend all of those who have worked so hard, especially the staff of the secretariat of the Gulf of Guinea Commission, despite the difficulties they have experienced in funding. We urge all member States to work hard to fulfil their obligations promptly.
Once again, I thank you all for your active and very useful participation at this very important meeting, as we wish the Gulf of Guinea Commission many more fruitful years ahead. And again we welcome the new member of the Gulf of Guinea Commission, Ghana, and congratulate them on their ascension to membership.
I wish you all safe journeys back home.
Thank you very much.
Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to the President
Office of the Vice President
November 23, 2017