The Acting Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello Koko and the Management team graced the occasion of the official launch of the Deep Blue Project by the President of Nigeria, Mohmmadu Buhari, GCFR, at the Lagos Ports Complex (LPC), Apapa, Lagos.
During the flag-off in Lagos on Thursday, Mr Buhari said the activity will improve maritime security for member states in the Gulf of Guinea.
“This Flag-off is an important step in the continuing shift in strategic action about regional maritime security. It will serve as a benchmark for member states in the Gulf of Guinea and other relevant stakeholders to further develop innovative strategies and align efforts with the subsisting framework to improve maritime security in the region,” he said.
The Deep Blue Project was established to prevent illegal activities in the Nigerian Exclusive Economic Zone, enforce maritime regulations, enhance safety of lives at sea, and prevent illegal activities in the inland waterways.
The countries in the Gulf of Guinea are Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon (Ambazonia), Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, São Tomé and Príncipe, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Angola.
Mr Buhari said the project has been initiated to bolster the maritime security architecture and ensure greater enforcement action within Nigerian waters and beyond.
He said that new maritime security assets are coming at a crucial time when international discussions are geared towards piracy activities and the new dimension it has taken in the Gulf of Guinea region.
“With the world’s waters accounting for over 80 percent of transportation requirements of the global economy, concerted efforts and innovative actions are required to address attendant security challenges,” he said.
“The DEEP BLUE project is a critical step towards the realization of maritime security in the region, which underscores Nigeria’s commitment in providing the necessary framework and resources in cooperation with other nations and maritime users,” Mr Buhari said
He said this action will facilitate a productive space for the maritime sector to thrive and contribute to the diversification of the nation’s economy.
“This forum is to help galvanize regional and international efforts to ensure security in the Gulf of Guinea. Its main focus is counter piracy and armed robbery prevention by bringing together regional, international, industry and NGO partners to advance and coordinate near-term maritime activities, with a view to working towards a set of common operational objectives off the coast of west and central Africa,” he said.