By Lawrence Olaoye
President Muhammadu Buhari has emerged the new chairman of the Gulf of Guinea Commission with a call on member states to urgently address the socio-economic and security challenges facing the commission.
Speaking shortly after the confirmation of his appointment at the 4th Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC), held in Abuja, the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, who represented the President, said that the members could achieve this by collectively taking measures to check violations of domestic and international treaties in the Gulf of Guinea.
According to him, challenges facing the Commission include a rise in maritime insurance premiums for vessels coming into the Gulf of Guinea; increased threats and reduced commercial traffic to the region, unregulated and unreported fishing along the Gulf of Guinea.
Osinbajo also charged the member states to take measures to reduce pollution and environmental degradation in the Gulf of Guinea.
He said “In conformity with the theme of the 4th Ordinary Session which is; “A Vibrant Gulf of Guinea Region for sustainable Development’’, let us renew our commitment to making the Gulf of Guinea more effective and a truly vibrant partner in all our efforts, be the regional, national or international, to ensure a zone of peace, security and sustainable development for our countries, our peoples and other stakeholders in the region.’’ He, however, lauded the individual efforts of some of the member states who improved the capacities and capability of their Navy and other relevant organisations to enable them perform their duties more effectively.
He commended ECOWAS and Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS/CEEAC) for establishing maritime regional centres for maritime security.
“This effort is capped by the establishment of the inter-regional coordination centre based in Yaoundé, Cameroun, as the collaborative link between the two maritime regional centres led by ECOWAS and ECCAS.’’Osinbajo called on the member states to always fulfill their financial dues and obligations to the commission to ensure effective operation and performance of the Gulf of Guinea Commission.
The vice-president, who lauded staff of the GGC secretariat for their untiring efforts in sustaining the commission, congratulated Ghana for being a new member of the Gulf of Guinea Commission.