BY PHILIP NWOSU
The Minister of State for transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki has commended the Nigerian Navy for its effort in combating piracy within the country’s territorial waters, saying that for the first time in 28 years Nigeria has experienced zero incidences of piracy within its territorial waters.
The Minister spoke at the 2022 edition of World Hydrography Day ceremonies explaining that “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).”
She congratulated the Federal Government, the Federal Ministry of Transportation, the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), noting that 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.”
The minister noted that for a nation like Nigeria with 853 kilometres of coastline, hydrography remains both an economic and a national security issue, insisting that “like other Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, “hydrography is the key driver of ocean science studies and depicts the physical features of the ocean, and that is the starting point for any meaningful understanding of the world oceans.
She said that government had also placed 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 toward actualising the objectives of the UN’s Decade Ocean Science.
She said: “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.”
The minister said that in addition, the Federal Government has 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 charting.
He added that there are also renewed efforts to finalize the process of extending Nigeria’s maritime space to the outer limits of its continental shelf, which will give the country sovereign rights and responsibility to study the extended maritime area more extensively towards improving the welfare and prosperity of Nigeria and its maritime neighbors in the Gulf of Guinea sub-region..
Earlier, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo said that Nigerian Navy has commenced the first indigenous systematic survey of Nigeria’s coastal and offshore waters.
He said: “This marked the beginning of systematic study of Nigeria’s waters and the campaign would be sustained until our entire offshore waters are completely surveyed. Pertinently, knowledge of the physical properties of the environment would be used, not only for nautical charts production, but also to aid Federal Government towards policy formulation that would reverse the cycle of decline in Nigeria’s ocean health.
“Furthermore, these hydrographic data would assist relevant agencies to delineate critical marine protected and potential deep sea mining areas. These would further position Nigeria on the right part towards improved national economic growth, development and security.
He said that Nigerian Navy would not have been able to attain this hydrographic capability without the support of the Federal Government, commending the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari at making the feat possible.
Also the Hydrographer of the Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral C. Okafor explained the importance of the Hydrography to the water ways, saying that the oceans of the world form the clouds that bring us rain, which replenish our freshwater supplies. It also regulates our climate, provides endless source of renewable energy, and revenue generation for nations. Above all, the oceans provide numerous medicinal and health benefits to us, as many bio-medical products, which we take, are derived from marine plant and animal sources within the oceans.
He pointed out that hydrography, as a branch of applied sciences, stands out as a major scientific tool, that offers indispensable knowledge, which mariners and policy makers, could leverage to ensure conservation and sustainable use of the oceans. If you look around you, almost everything that sustains human lives; whether goods, services or even production, is likely, to have been made available through the oceans. Ships, as we know, will be unable to safely sail, from one part of the ocean, to another without accurate and up-to-date hydrographic information. Furthermore, hydrography provides the basic information required for all forms of studies, engineering, regulatory framework, and management, within the oceans.