By Vera Samuel Anyagafu
AS Nigeria awaits consideration from the United Nation’s Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shell (CLCS), the need to make available funds to the National Boundary Commission and the Extended Continental Shelf (ECS) office in New Yoke is said to be essentially imperative.
Speaking at the 35th session of the CLCS in New York, the re-elected Chairman of the Commission, Professor Lawrence Awosika, who happens to be the first African to chair the Commission since inception, has urged the Federal government of Nigeria to assist the NBC and ECS to effectively represent the country in respect of the CLCS.
He said that Nigeria should not be found lagging behind when the submission comes on for consideration by the Commission, stressing that the country would have to act fast and ensure that all the necessary logistics are in place to enable it sail through the consideration of the Commission.
It is important to note herein, that Nigeria made ther submission to the CLCS in 1997 for an extended continental shelf.
At that time, Nigeria’s submission was number 28 on the CLCS queue, and it would interest all to know that presently, Nigeria’s submission has moved to the number two and could come up on the queue for the CLCS to start its consideration by January 2015.
According to Awosika, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) was established following the entry into force of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
“According to Article 76 of (UNCLOS) the functions of the Commission consists of considering the data and other material submitted by coastal States concerning the outer limits of the continental shelf and to provide scientific and technical advice, if requested by the coastal State”, Awosika added.
Continuing, he said that, “A coastal State intending to establish the outer limits to its continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles is obligated to submit supporting scientific and technical data of its continental shelf to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.
“The Commission shall then consider and analyse the data and make recommendations in writing to the coastal State that made the submission and also to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.”
He also stated that the limits of the shelf established by a coastal State on the basis of these recommendations shall be final and binding.
However, it is pertinent to note that Nigeria made her submission for and extended continental shelf to the CLCS in June 2009.
Consequent upon the submission and its queuing, a continental shelf office was established in New York USA.
The office was instituted for the purpose of preparing and enhancing the submission for defence before the Commission.
“So far the office has been hampered by the non provision of funds to undertake the necessary enhancement and prepare the submission to enable pass the very stringent and technical assessment of the commission”, Awosika said.
Speaking also in respect of the country’s NBC, CLCS and ECS, Head, Extended continental shelf Project (ECS) office in New York and Director of Maritime boundary department in the National Boundary Commission Abuja, Mr. Aliyu Omar, said that a lot of work needs to be completed before the Nigeria submission is ready to be considered.
“Nigeria would have to get a lot of work completed before the submission is considered and it could be anytime”, said Aliyu.
Professor Lawrence Awosika, is a members of the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), prior to his present status.
He is a retired Director and Head, Marine geology, geophysics department of the Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research.
Awosika’s sounding victory to lead the Commission for at least two and half years, is seen as a feather for Nigeria and Africa as no black or African has ever won the chairmanship of the Commission.
He is uniquely aware of the geography and geology of Nigeria’s terrain, hence he was recently re-elected to consistently and effectively oversee to the progressive position of the country’s CLCS.