President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, have both called on stakeholders in the maritime sector to work together to build a secure, prosperous, and sustainable maritime future for the benefit of all and generations to come.

The duo said this today at the Opening Ceremony of the 5th International Maritime Conference/Regional Conference, with the theme, “Promoting the Blue Economy in Africa through International Cooperation on Maritime Security” as part of programme marking the 2024 Nigerian Navy Week Celebration held at the Conference Hall, Naval Dockyard, Victoria Island, Lagos, with a call on stakeholders to use the conference as a catalyst to foster international cooperation on maritime security towards advancing the blue economy agenda.

The President who spoke through the Vice President, Mr. Kazim Shettima said his administration would continue to support regional and international collaboration as well as partnership efforts of the Nigerian Navy towards providing the enabling environment for Africa’s Blue Economy to thrive.

He said, “Notwithstanding the challenges of the moment, I am glad to reiterate that my administration is determined to ensure that the Nigerian Navy is supported to achieve its statutory responsibilities.  We shall also support regional and international collaboration as well as partnership efforts of the Nigerian Navy towards providing the enabling environment for Africa’s Blue Economy to thrive.”

Speaking further, he said Africa is very rich and endowed with living and non-living resources, having vast strategic economic resources in her blue economy, adding that a secured maritime environment, one that is free from threats such as piracy or other criminal activities, is essential for the sustainability of Africa’s blue economy.

According to the president, “Significantly, the blue economy is estimated to be worth more than 1.5 trillion US dollars per year globally and projected to be 15.5 trillion US dollars by 2050. The ‘Africa Blue Economy Strategy’ estimates that the blue economy currently generates nearly US300 billion dollars for the continent creating 49 million jobs in the process. The African Blue Economy is projected to reach US 405 billion dollars by 2030.”

He therefore called for improvement in security conditions required to significantly raise the contribution of the marine and blue economy sector to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.

Also, in his address the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu stated that it is important for the government to support initiatives aimed at enhancing maritime security and fostering international partnerships towards harnessing largely untapped potential in the nation’s blue economy.

Sanwo-Olu, who spoke through the Deputy Governor, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, noted that the occasion indicates the government’s collective commitment to strengthening maritime security, trade, and cooperation in the country.

While reflecting on the significant strides the Nigerian Navy has made in safeguarding the nation’s waters, protecting her maritime resources, and ensuring the safety and security of marine activities, Sanwo-Olu said their dedication and bravery have been pivotal in combating piracy, smuggling, and other maritime threats, contributing to the peace and stability of the nation.

Speaking on the significant role water has played in the economic development and growth of the state and nation, Sanwo-Olu stressed that “Our gathering here in Lagos, a city that has long stood as the gateway to Nigeria’s maritime domain, reminds us of the critical role our waters play in the socio-economic development of our state and country.”

Furthermore, on the significant contribution of Lagos as a bustling port city, which thrives on the efficiency and safety of its maritime activities, “Our ports are the lifeline of not just Lagos, but the entire Country, facilitating trade and contributing significantly to our GDP,” he said, adding that as a government, we will continue to acknowledge and show appreciation to all our military officers both serving and retired so that their efforts and sacrifices will not be forgotten.

He added that the appreciative attitude on the government’s part is imperative during a period like this when the nation faces the challenges of terrorism and insurgency.

The Governor therefore urged participants to have a good deliberation and be mindful of the need for a holistic approach that encompasses economic growth, environmental stewardship, and security.

“By working together, we can harness the full potential of our maritime sector, driving innovation and ensuring prosperity for future generations,” Sanwo-Olu concluded.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla disclosed that the Conference provides a viable platform to collectively develop strategies in addressing Africa’s inherent security challenges arising from the development of the Blue Economy.

He also added that the conference will facilitate discourse on concepts and collaborative plans in actualizing aspirations of a combined Maritime Task Force to support the region’s blue economy.

The Chief of Naval Staff stated that, on its part, the Nigerian Navy has rejigged its maritime security operations to ensure the protection of Nigeria’s Blue Economy in accordance with its statutory mandate for national development and economic prosperity.

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