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Tinubu to Nigerian navy: Prioritise protection, development of maritime environment

President Bola Tinubu has urged the Nigerian navy to prioritise the protection and development of the country’s maritime environment.

Tinubu, represented by Vice-President Kashim Shettima, made the call on Thursday when he declared open the 2024 international maritime conference in Lagos.

The event was held to commemorate the navy’s 68th anniversary.

The president urged the Nigerian navy, its African partners, and other stakeholders to work towards a secure and prosperous maritime future for all.

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Tinubu said the navy has a crucial role in maximising the potential of the blue economy, which he estimated at $1.5 trillion globally and $300 billion across the continent annually.

“The wealth of Africa can never be realised unless we prioritise the protection and development of our maritime environment,” the politician said.

“The blue economy is estimated to be worth more than US $1.5 trillion per year globally and is projected to increase to US $15.5 trillion by 2050.

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“The “Africa Blue Economy Strategy” estimates that the blue economy currently generates nearly US $300 billion for the continent, creating 49 million jobs in the process. The Africa Blue Economy is projected to hit US $405 billion by 2030.”

‘TAKE ADVANTAGE OF INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN NIGERIA’S BLUE ECONOMY’

In his speech, titled, ‘It’s Time to Secure Our Maritime Future’, Tinubu said while a flourishing blue economy is the bedrock of every vibrant nation, achieving this requires “a progressive naval force.”

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He called for the commitment and dedication of naval officers and their international partners, describing them as “the lifeguards of our maritime environment.”

“This conference must inspire all stakeholders to see the big picture—that we cannot afford to fail in our responsibilities to the continent and, indeed, the entire world,” the president said.

“Let us work towards a maritime future that is secure, prosperous, sustainable, and beneficial to all our people and the generations to come. I urge you all to feel at home and take advantage of the investment opportunities that abound in Nigeria’s blue economy.”

Tinubu also congratulated the navy on its 68th anniversary, expressing the nation’s immense gratitude for its years of service as “a critical pillar of our security.”

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He also praised the marine forces for creating a sense of balance and stability in the country.

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The president specifically commended Bello Matawalle, minister of state for defence, Emmanuel Ikechukwu Ogalla, chief of naval staff, and the naval officers for establishing a safe and secure environment for economic growth and prosperity.

“There is no greater incentive to ensure that the infrastructure and technologies at the disposal of the Nigerian Navy are of the highest sophistication than the successes we have witnessed in our anti-crude oil theft crusade since I assumed office in 2023,” he said.

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“This has contributed immensely to the higher oil production levels we have seen.”

In his remarks, Ogalla said the outcome of the 2024 international maritime conference will significantly enhance its capabilities and strengthen existing collaborations in protecting the nation’s maritime environment.

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He said the forum would provide an excellent platform to build on the achievements of the combined maritime task force, supporting the development of the blue economy in the continent, the sub-region, and the nation in particular.

Also speaking, Matawalle encouraged conference participants and the Nigerian navy partners to devise innovative methods for sub-regional navies to fulfill their duties to help Nigeria realise the president’s vision for the safety and security of the nation’s maritime environment.

Similarly, Obafemi Hamzat, the deputy governor of Lagos, recognised the navy’s considerable achievements, particularly in protecting the nation’s maritime territory.

He said the conference highlights the country’s rich maritime heritage and the efforts of the navies in the Gulf of Guinea.

TINUBU INAUGURATES THREE NAVAL SHIPS

Meanwhile, on arrival at the naval dockyard, the president inaugurated three newly acquired naval ships: the Nigerian navy ship Ochuzo, the Nigerian navy ship Chalawa, and the Nigerian navy ship ZUR.

Two helicopters — Nigerian navy 412 and Nigerian navy 414 — were also inaugurated.

Tinubu declared the regional maritime exercise open and examined the progress of the seaward defence boats project.

In attendance were Gbenga Daniel, chairman of the senate committee on navy; naval chiefs from various African and international regions; heads of agencies in the maritime sector; former chiefs of naval staff; senior military officials; and a representative of the Oba of Lagos, among others.

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