13 September 2015, Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari and his Togolese counterpart, President Faure Gnassingbe Eyadema, lamented yesterday that the Gulf of Ginuea loses $7 billion to piracy and other illegal businesses on the waterways.
Accordingly, Nigeria and Togo have pledged to expedite bilateral action with a view to ending crude oil theft, piracy, illegal migration and drug trafficking within the Gulf of Guinea.
The agreement will be sealed at a regional summit which would hold in Togo in November this year.
Eyadema who was in Aso Rock, Abuja, to formally invite President Buhari to the summit, said the November event had become necessary to arrest some illicit activities on African high seas.
In a joint press briefing by both leaders after a closed-door meeting at the presidential villa, they agreed that Nigeria was the worst hit by the activities of the pirates.
Asked why there had to be too many summits before common problems could be solved, Eyadema said, “It is not only applicable to Africa but the whole world. But the challenge of maritime security in Africa is so much that we cannot allow it that way.
“For instance, piracy alone costs Gulf of Ginuea $7billion for not combatting it, and without cooperation you cannot combat piracy, but the first stage is to come together and talk. 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. If you try to fight them in Togo, they go to the next country. So, summits are necessary; they are not even sufficient.”
On his part, President Buhari said there was a need for collaboration among the African countries and indeed the world to tackle common issues facing them.
He said, “Bilaterally, we are trying to see how we can come closer together as he has explained, because having been there longer than myself, he is more exposed both in regional and on African Union level. But first and foremost, we must identify our problem and the first thing is security.
“We must secure our region, otherwise sustainable development will be impossible. You have just heard him say how much is lost to piracy and Nigeria cannot afford to lose that. So, there is need for cooperation amongst the African countries. We will continue to discuss and do our best to resolve regional issues.
“The most important thing is that we must pay attention to agriculture and manufacturing so that everybody can be employed and then we will have much less problems.”
Buhari thanked Eyadema for the concern for the victims of Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria.
He said, “I appreciate the visit of his excellency, especially his concern about regional security, Nigeria’s security and the issue of Boko Haram, oil theft, illegal fishing and the dumping of toxins, including oil pollution.
“His concern about regional security made it imperative for him to organise a summit on maritime security and development in November to examine a lot of issues. As for Nigeria, we are grateful for the sympathy and the goodwill expressed, touching on the performance of our armed forces and law enforcement agencies since this administration came into being.
“It is not easy trying to fight on so many fronts – the North East, the South South – and then trying to provide infrastructure in our country.
“Since the cooperation of the regional countries comprising Cameroun, Chad, Niger and Benin Republic, we’ve identified our problems and achieved positive results in terms of isolation of Boko Haram and giving a chance to peace.”
Earlier, President Eyadema told journalists that he was in Nigeria to pay condolences to the victims of the terror attacks and to formally invite President Buhari to the event, even as he commended President Buhari for his reforms in the oil sector, saying that it had started bearing fruit.
The Togolese president said: “I am in Nigeria to congratulate the president on his victory at the elections and to condole with the president for the victims of terrorism. We continue to pray for those who lost their lives with the hope that God will console their families.
“I am also here to commend the president and the Nigerian security forces for the work they are doing to combat terrorism in West Africa. What we are doing here to fight terrorism in Nigeria is to promote security on the African continent.
*George Agba – Leadership