Togolese President, Faure Gnassingbe, who visited President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja yesterday, said that a total of $7 billion is lost to piracy annually in the Gulf of Guinea.
The figure expectedly rose by 13.6% ($950million) in 2013 following increased level of insecurity in some of the countries in the Gulf.
Nigeria, alongside some other West African countries have since 2009 been plagued by Boko Haram’s relentless attacks on military and civilians, killing thousands and leaving about 1.4internally displaced persons.
Gnassingbe, at a joint press briefing shortly after the visit to President Buhari stressed the need for member countries to cooperate in efforts to curb the activities of the pirates, as no single country can fight on its own.
“If all the African countries are on the same page it would be easy to tackle the security challenges, so we have to keep holding summits, because individual countries cannot combat piracy effectively without cooperation,” he said, inviting the President to a maritime summit which is to hold in November.
The summit, the Togolese President said, will also address issues of oil theft though the sea, as well as illicit trafficking of drugs and humans, which are some of the problems Nigeria is currently tackling.
Another important issue that will be discussed at the summit, Gnassingbe said is the issue of migration, following the porous nature of the region’s borders. Recalling incidents of immigrants drowning while making their way to Europe, he said “We cannot sit and do nothing about it. We have to ensure that those who want to travel our go there in a good condition”.
He commended President Buhari and the Nigerian Armed Forces for their efforts at combatting terrorism in the West African, stating that security within the region had become a major issue.
Buhari who expressed appreciation for the concern showed by his guest for the Nigerian Armed Forces, said it has not been an easy task trying to fight on so many fronts, “the North East, the South South and then try to provide infrastructure in our country.”
He said Nigeria couldn’t afford to lose such amount to piracy in its current financial state, adding that there was need for cooperation among African countries to tackle the menace.
President Buhari said his administration would give more attention to agriculture and manufacturing “so that everybody can be employed and then we will have much less problems”.
“Since the cooperation of the regional countries comprising Cameroun, Chad, Niger and Benin Republic we identified our problem and have achieved positive results in terms of the isolation of Boko Haram and giving a chance to peace,” he said.
Both Presidents agreed to foster stronger bilateral ties and cooperation, after ongoing reforms in key sectors of the Nigerian economy.
By Pita Ochai