By Evelyn Usman
The Chief of Naval Staff CNS, Vice -Admiral Dele Ezeoba has called for the constitution of a stakeholders’ forum to formulate strategies to fight illegal bunkering and maritime insecurity in the country which he said had led to the loss of huge revenue accruable to national coffers.
Delivering a paper on ‘Challenges of Crude Oil Theft , illegal bunkering and Piracy: New Strategies For Improved Maritme Security in Nigeria’, at the just-concluded two-day security conference organised by the Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria AISSON, in Lagos, titled ‘ Innovative Solutions to Insecurity in Nigeria’, the CNS stated emphatically that such forum was imperative in view of the prevalence of maritime crimes.
Represented by the Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Ameen Ikioda, he disclosed that sea-borne trade accounted for over 80 percent of the nation’s imports and exports, giving an estimation of N12 Billion of crude oil theft annually, an indication he said had made the fight against bunkering imperative and highly disturbing.
He called for the support f the larger society if the war must be won. The Stakeholders forum Ezeoba said, should include state governors, legislators, ministers, members of the armed forces; both serving and retired, lawyers, private security experts and the media, with the purpose of helping the Nigerian Navy to overcome challenges of “operational platforms, equipment, logistic and finance, to become more effective in combating maritime crimes.”
He also, implored the presidency and National Assembly to “significantly improve on funding through more budgetary allocation and special maritime funding arrangement to the Navy with a view to taking urgent challenges militating against optimum performance”, noting that to secure the nation’s maritime environment and assets required the procurement of newer and modern ships, while the renovation of NNS ARADU, one of NN warships to its original state, would cost cost about N8.9billion.