The Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, on Tuesday assured maritime stakeholders and the international community that the Federal Government would sustain the fight against piracy and other maritime crimes in the Gulf of Guinea.
The Minister gave the assurance in Lagos on Tuesday while delivering a keynote address at the 2022 World Hydrography Day celebration organised by the Nigerian Navy.
The theme of the 2022 World Hydrography Day was “Hydrography: Contributing to the United Nations Ocean Decade.
Senator Saraki said Nigeria had not recorded any act of piracy on its waters since the beginning of this year – a feat she attributed to the collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Transportation, Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
She said, “Today makes it five months of zero attack on our waterways. This is the first time in 28 years that there has been no attack. This is a feat duly recognised by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB). I, therefore, congratulate the Federal Government, the Federal Ministry of Transportation, the Nigerian Navy and of course the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
“The celebration of the Hydrography Day is as much about the work and responsibilities of our Navy as it is about the geographical landscape of our waters.
“For a nation like ours with 853 kilometres of coastline, hydrography is both an economic and a national security issue. To many of us not privileged to wear this bright sparkling white uniform, today is Hydrography Day. Every day is Hydrography Day to a naval officer or a cadet.”
The Minister encouraged women to take interest in hydrographer – a field where they can build rewarding careers.
“Like other science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field, hydrography has traditionally seen low rates of female participation. It is my hope that in your pursuit of excellence, you will begin to promote and include women in hydrography daily as well,” she said.
Senator Saraki described hydrography as the key driver of ocean science studies and depicts the physical features of the ocean, which is the starting point for any meaningful understanding of the world’s oceans.
“It is this knowledge that enables us to better manage our ocean’s assets and deliver economic and environment solutions to the maritime public and stakeholders across Nigeria. It is in this regard that I consider the theme for this year’s World Hydrography Day – Hydrography: Contributing to the United Nations Ocean Decade apt.
“I am glad to note that this action is already receiving global accolade, with NNS LANA, awarded the “Best Large Research Vessel in the world for the Year 2022” by Baird Maritime.
“The Government has also placed an order with Messrs. OCEA of France for the delivery of a 35-meter hydrographic research vessel, which would work side-by-side NNS LANA to further boost the nation’s hydrographic research capacity towards actualising the objectives of the UN’s Decade Ocean Science.
“In addition, the Federal Government established a committee on Blue Economy chaired by the Vice President, procurement of modern survey equipment and increased tempo of human capacity development to improve Nigeria’s capacity for hydrographic survey and charts,” she said.
Speaking earlier, the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo said Nigeria joined the league of chart-producing nations when the first indigenous navigational chart was unveiled by the Nigerian Navy in 2020.
“It is glad to note that nearly two years down the line, nine more navigational charts and five electronic navigational charts are being produced by Nigeria. Today, the Navy has achieved another milestone in developing the hydrographic capacity axis; its hydrographic office has commenced other navigational publications. These hydrographic development efforts are coming at a time the world is focused on the use of the ocean sciences to achieve sustainable development.
“It is worthy of note that the Nigerian Navy recently commenced the first indigenous systematic survey of Nigeria’s coastal and offshore water. This marks the beginning of a systematic study of Nigerian waters and the campaign would be sustained until the entire waters are completely surveyed.
“Hydrographic data will assist relevant agencies to delineate critical maritime protection and potential deep-sea mining areas. This will further position Nigeria in the right towards national economic growth, development, and overall development and security,” Gambo said.