The United States on Friday warned that the Nigerian economy remains under great threat due to criminal activities in the Niger Delta and the threats by militants to resume bombing of oil facilities in the region.
Commander of the United States Naval Forces in charge of Europe and Africa, Admiral Michelle Howard, said this few days after the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) declared that Nigeria was out of recession.
Presenting the US Presidential Medal of Honour to Nigeria’s Deputy Military Attachee to the US, Navy Captain Kolawole Oguntuda, at the Naval Headquarters in Abuja, Howard said: “Oil extraction and production accounts for 75% of Nigeria’s revenue with the vast majority of oil infrastructure existing off shore or really close inshore.”
“So terrorism, criminal networks, illegal bunkering with damages of oil pipeline directly threatens Nigeria economy.
“That is where navies come in. I, as the commander, regards the Nigerian Navy as a key regional partner in securing the Gulf of Guinea seek to strengthen our relationship by assisting in economic security and enhancing regional stability.”
Speaking, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas assured that the Nigerian Navy was ready and capable of containing threats posed by the Niger Delta militants.
“We actually don’t need people from outside to tell us how strategic Nigerian Navy is in securing our environment, maritime space and the Gulf of Guinea”, he said.
“The maritime environment has seen a spate of piracy attacks, robbery, especially last year. We also saw some elements of resource theft, including illegal fishing in our waters, human trafficking, arms trafficking as well as drug trafficking, not to mention waste dumbing and environmental concerns.
“The strategic role Nigeria plays is what has brought in America. For the threats you mentioned in the Niger Delta, one thing I want to assure you is that so long as human beings exist, there will always be conflicts, and once there are conflicts, there would always be ways of resolving those conflicts.
“For Nigerian Navy, we will continue to build our capacity and capabilities to enable us contain such threats.
“If Nigeria is the main concern to look at in the sub-region, Nigeria therefore becomes an important country for those who have interest in this region, to come and have conversation to see how they can enhance the maritime law enforcement agencies.
“US government has always been offering us support. The sea do not belong to any particular individual, they are global commons, and transnational crimes that occur, means that from one country to the other, your security can be compromised if the sea space is not properly governed.
“So, for US, wherever they have interest, they are ready to provide the needed support. And I think it stands for Nigeria also, where we have to ensure that the Gulf of Guinea is secured, including the security of neighbouring states.”