Cross River Set To Float Cally Air And Shipping Lines

airline and shipping line floating plan underway in cross riverCross River State Government has completed plans to float its own airline as well as a shipping line, as part of efforts to increase revenue and lower dependence on federal allocation.

Addressing reporters in Calabar, Governor Ben Ayade said the state was taking full advantage of its huge tourism potentials and vast maritime resources by going into both airline and maritime services.

Huge Maritime Resources

The governor noted that while Cally Air was expected to transport tourists from all over Nigeria to the beautiful tourist sites dotted across the state, particularly the famous Obudu Ranch Resort, the shipping line would concentrate primarily on cargo services, especially along the shoreline of the Gulf of Guinea.

Ayade maintained that “Cross River State is only taking full advantage of its huge maritime resources by focusing on maritime trading particularly, cabotage services by providing merchant vessels that will ply the Gulf of Guinea and provide services to countries along this shoreline.

“In our 2017 budget, there is a provision for a merchant vessel that will provide maritime businesses with Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Cameroun and the entire stretch of the shoreline.

“There is another provision for Wharf landing and other support services. So, we are also going to have a fabrication yard and other allied maritime services as we refocus on broadening the maritime sector in the state”.

Justifying government’s decision to venture into maritime services, Professor Ayade reasoned that with the maritime trade and connectivity along the region, his administration was confident that the return on the investment would definitely be huge and contribute immensely to the budget of infinite transposition.

“Our vessels are already berthing in Calabar as part of investment in 2017 because we are establishing business outlays in some West and Central African countries dealing mostly on petroleum products and because Cross River State is looking at an aggregate of driving an industrialised, business-like module for governance, soon, you will see us go into full time trading.

“That is why in our budget, we have budgeted about 14 billion Naira to expand investment in this direction to the Gambia,” the Governor explained.

Professor Ayade further told reporters that the state had the capacity to handle the huge investments, knowing full well that, it is a very delicate combination of public-private service administration structure running it from a private business perspective.

Cross River is announcing its plan two days after Imo State government said it had taken delivery of the first aircraft, to kick start, as the first state owned commercial airline, Imo Air.

During the official launch of the new airline at the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo airport in Owerri, the Imo state capital, the Governor Rochas Okorocha said the investment by the state government would boost economic activities in the state.

He added that it would increase the state Internally Generated Revenue and also generate employment opportunities for teaming unemployed youths in the state.

Nigerian Navy To Mount Choke Points On Niger Delta Creeks

Nigerian Navy, Niger Delta Creeks, Choke PointsNigerian Navy says plans are underway to completely get rid of about 40 creeks in the Niger Delta region before the second quarter of 2017.

The creeks have been identified by the Navy to be navigable and used for criminal elements in Nigeria’s south-south region.

Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, disclosed this on Thursday during an assessment of facility at the Eastern Naval Command in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.

He expressed satisfaction with the level of steadfastness of officers of the command.

Vice Admiral Ibas further revealed that the government, in the shortest possible time, plans to man houseboats on the waters to check the activities of criminals.

He listed the Calabar River as one of the rivers identified for choke points, owing to the importance the water holds in the Gulf of Guinea.

The Navy boss assured passengers of their safety on the waters, saying the river would soon be completely taken over by the Navy.

He also warned unrepentant criminals to stay away from the waterways, stressing that the Nigerian Navy is ready to hunt them down.

According to the Navy, there are about 6,000 creeks in the entire Niger Delta region.

Regional Security Summit Commences In Abuja

Security SummitNigeria is hosting the second regional security meeting in Abuja to consolidate efforts for regional peace and development. The summit has commenced.

The Multi-National Joint Task Force Commander has drawn the attention of member states to the need for improved allowances for the troops and purchase of equipment for detecting and destroying IEDs.

Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission is asking member states to begin to fix attention on developmental programmes which will address the root causes of insecurity in the region.

Saturday is for the presentation of the recommendations from the series of meetings they will be holding to the leaders of member states.

Discussions at the Summit will focus on intelligence on the location and rescue of the over 200 abducted Chibok girls and an implementable action plan for the joint fight against insurgency in the African region.

Presidents of four member countries of the Lake Chad Basin will be attending the Summit as well as representatives of other neighbouring African countries, the European Union, the United States and the British government.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Lolo Bulus, said that the Summit is sequel to the Security Summit in Paris.

President Buhari To Host Security Summit

security summit, President BuhariNigeria will host the second regional security summit in Abuja as part of efforts by the federal government to boost the security of lives and properties.

According to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, the summit will attract leaders from across the globe including French President, Francois Hollande who hosted the first regional security summit in Paris on May 17, 2014.

President Muhammadu Buhari and the French President who is scheduled to arrive in Abuja on Friday will be joined at the summit by the presidents of Cameroon, Niger Republic, Chad and Benin Republic.

The United States, Britain, Equatorial Guinea, the European Union, Ecowas, the Economic Community of Central African States and the Gulf of Guinea Commission will also be represented at the summit.

The summit will have the successful conclusion of ongoing military operations against Boko Haram at the top of its agenda.

Agreements on further defence and cultural cooperation between Nigeria and France are expected to be concluded between the two presidents.

Buhari Calls For Social Justice To Curb Internal Conflicts

Muhammadu Buhari - AfricanIn a bid to achieve greater peace and political stability in their countries, President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday asked African leaders to work harder to ensure social justice for all their citizens.

He made the appeal at an audience with the Foreign Minister of Equatorial Guinea, Mr Agapito Mba Mokuy, in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

President Buhari maintained that as leaders of sovereign nations, African Heads of Government must be allowed to discharge their responsibility for peace and security within their countries, without external interference.

He explained that this was why Heads of State and Government of the African Union decided against sending peacekeeping troops to Burundi during the country’s recent political crisis.

President Buhari disclosed that he expected the Government of Burundi to work towards greater peace, national unity and social justice for all Burundians to justify the decision of the African Union.

“Governments should be responsible for the security of their countries. Burundi must therefore ensure social justice for all of its people so as not to disappoint Africa in the eyes of the world,” the President told the Minister who was in Abuja as a Special Envoy of President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

He assured him that Nigeria would continue to work with Equatorial Guinea and other nations to strengthen the African Union and its various organs for the good of the continent.

The President added that Nigeria would also welcome more cooperation with Equatorial Guinea and other members of the Gulf of Guinea Commission, to curb piracy and enhance security in the gulf.

Navy Concludes Multinational Maritime Exercise In C/River

Nigerian NavyThe Nigerian Navy and their colleagues from three other continents have concluded a one-week multinational maritime exercise.

The multinational exercise tagged ‘Operation Obangame Express’ was brought to a halt in Cross River State, southern Nigeria.

The Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral Atiku Abdulkadir, said that the exercise was meant to improve security in the Gulf of Guinea and enhance cooperation between the Navy in African nations and beyond.

“We are developing our capacities and it has come out very clearly during the exercise. Aside from that, it affords us to see how equipment from other countries and Nigeria can operate together and be effective in provision of maritime security,” he said.

The US-Africa Deputy Commander for Regional Operations, Vice Admiral Michael Franken, also stressed the importance of the event.

He urged the Gulf of Guinea nations and the various ministries in each country to share the best practices between themselves, stressing that “the United States is only here as an international partner”.

Since 2009, the yearly multinational exercise seeks to build relationships between navies of most African nations as well as the US, France and other EU participating nations.

32 nations and international organisations from four continents participated in the visit, search, arrest, rescue, seizure, maintenance, security and surveillance exercises including the tactical measures in reclaiming hijacked ships from pirates.

They also re-enacted the series of exercises on the ‘Awunde Code of Conduct’ on non-binding international agreement that lays down the standards which participating countries should follow.

Navy Partners India On Maritime Security

navyThe Nigerian Navy has reached an agreement with the Indian Navy to develop manned and unmanned vessels with a view to enhancing security on the Gulf of Guinea.

The Chief of Policy and Planning for the Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral Johnson Olutoyin, said that the partnership is a fallout of a two-day partnership meeting with the Indian Navy on personnel training for the Nigerian Navy.

According to him, the new relationship will also help to enhance aerial surveillance of the coast of Guinea.

Navy Promises To Ensure Safe Waters During Yuletide

navyThe Nigerian Navy says it remains committed to the safety of the nation’s waters during and after the Yuletide.

The Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok-ete Ibas, said this at the end of the annual inspection exercise usually organized by the Navy, code-named ‘Operation Treasure Guard’, to make officers fit and combat ready for its operations.

The 3-day rigorous exercise on sea and the shores was witnessed by the Chief of Defence Staff, observers from the Defence Headquarters, as well as all Flag Officers leading their various ships.

The exercise kicked off from the Nigerian Naval base in Onne, after being declared open by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonishakin, with participating ships on guard and covered from the Calabar Waters East to the Delta regions in the central, the Gulf of Guinea waters towards the Atlantic in the Western Region.

The Chief of Defence staff urged the Nigerian Navy to be more vigilant and committed to securing the wealth of the nation on the sea and shores.

He commended the Navy for the acquisition of more ships, especially for the 30 most recent ones already in Nigeria from Sri Lanka.

The Naval Chief said that the Nigerian Navy in 2016 would not relent in policing the nation’s common wealth along the maritime domain, as presently, 139 illegal bunkeries have been destroyed between July 2015 till date.

While commending the government for its contributions, the Naval Chief made a case for more funding for the Navy in the coming year.

The Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Naval Command, said that the annual end of the year Navy sea exercise is ‎designed to work up the ships and personnel, in line with the Nigerian Navy doctrine of operations.

A total of 14 ships, covering the Eastern, Western and Central Naval Command, participated in the exercise.

Navy Moves To Combat Maritime Challenges

Nigerian navyThe Nigerian Navy says new strategies have been put in place to combat the challenges of local and international crude oil theft, drug trafficking, gun running, illegal migration and terrorism.

Addressing a news conference in Abuja on Friday, ahead of the 2015 Nigerian Navy Retreat, the Chief of Policy and Plans, Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral Johnson Olutoyin, said the Nigerian maritime environment and the entire Gulf of Guinea region were witnessing complex security challenges.

He reaffirmed the Navy’s resolve to tackle the contemporary and emerging security challenges bedeviling the nation.

On Friday, the Navy arrested 11 crew members of a vessel, MT Camille, laden with about 4,000 metric tonnes of suspected stolen crude oil at Forcados in Delta State.

The Eastern Naval Command of the Nigerian Navy has also reiterated its commitment to increasing security on Nigeria’s water, to put an end to crime in the nation’s territorial boundaries.

To deepen efforts to end maritime challenges, the Navy has also entered into a partnership with the Nigerian Customs Service in the area of maritime security and exchange of information that will help in improving Nigeria’s economy.

Nigeria, Sao Tome And Principe To Review Joint Development Authority

Patrice-Emery-Trovoada-and-Muhammadu-BuhariThe Nigerian President has said that his country and Sao Tome and Principe must sit down soon to review the activities of their Joint Development Authority with a view to making it more efficient and productive.

President Muhammadu Buhari stressed the need for the review on Wednesday in Abuja at a meeting with the Prime Minister of Sao Tome and Principe, Patrice Emery Trovoada.

He said that the two countries also needed to intensify their collaborative efforts with other countries to curtail piracy and insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea.

Incalculable Economic Damage

The President stressed that with their shared strategic interest in the security of the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria and Sao Tome and Principe must work harder with other stakeholders to keep it safe.

In a statement by the spokesman to the Nigerian President, Garba Shehu, Buhari noted that “pirates, who take advantage of the present low level of security in the gulf, were causing incalculable damage to the economies of countries in the region”.

He therefore assured the visiting Prime Minister that Nigeria would do all within its powers to enhance security in the Gulf.

The Prime Minister told President Buhari that his country would welcome a meeting next year to review the management of the Joint Development Authority.

We Have Identified Banks Where Stolen Funds Are Deposited – Buhari

Muhammadu-BuhariNigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, says his administration has taken further efforts to recover Nigeria’s stolen funds, by identifying some banks and other financial institutions where the money has been deposited.

The President made the disclosure on Monday in Abuja during an audience with visiting U.S. Congressmen, led by Representative Darrel Issa.

According to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, President Buhari told the Congressmen that his administration would welcome more regular meetings of the Nigeria-United States Bi-National Commission.

The statement further said the administration had also identified countries in which payments for stolen Nigerian crude oil have been deposited.

At the meeting with the U.S. Congressmen, President Buhari acknowledged the support and cooperation his administration was getting from the international community in gathering required intelligence for tracing and recovering stolen national resources.

US-Congressmen-meet-with-Muhammadu-Buhari
Some officials of the U.S. government and members of the Congress at a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari

“We are getting cooperation from the international community, including information on ships that take crude oil from Nigeria and change direction, or pour their contents into other ships mid-stream.

“Some monies were paid to individual accounts. We are identifying the financial institutions and countries that are involved.

“I have been assured that when we get all our documents together, the United States and other countries will treat our case with sympathy,” the President told the Congressmen.

‘End Boko Haram Insurgency’

He further stated that his administration would welcome more regular meetings of the Nigeria-United States Bi-National Commission, stressing that the Commission could serve as a more useful platform for the promotion of bilateral trade, economic relations and joint cooperation in the war against terrorism.

Mr Darrel assured President Buhari that the United States would support Nigeria against Boko Haram by providing training, intelligence and military platforms.

“We look forward to helping you in many ways to end the Boko Haram insurgency and the theft of crude oil in the Gulf of Guinea,” he said.

After his inauguration on May 29 President Buhari promised to recover funds that had been stolen by government officials who had abused their offices in the recent past, insisting that he would only probe that past administration.

He also promised special assistance to the three north eastern states – Adamawa, Borno  and Yobe – badly affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.

Maritime Crime: FG Partners EU On Military Training

Maritime crimeThe Nigerian Government is partnering the international community to effectively train stakeholders in the marine sector on how to be combat ready to tackle their challenges.

This is in its bid to put an end to the increasing maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea and West Africa.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the maritime security crisis response exercise code named Exercise OTUM KIET, the Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral Charles Medani, averred that the training would, among other reasons, step up strategic approach towards a safe, secure and stable maritime domain.

Exercise OTUM KIET, which literally means working together in Efik language, is the second in the series of training to ensure adequate security in the gulf of Guinea.

Organized by the office of the National Security Adviser in collaboration with the European Union’s Critical Maritime Routes in the Gulf of Guinea (CRIMGO), the training put together for the Nigerian Navy, other Military and Para-military personnel is to collectively get the men better skilled on the prevention and repression of piracy, armed robbery against ships and illegal maritime activities in West and Central Africa.

Beyond capacity building by the EU, which is a stepping stone towards attaining the target of the exercise, Rear Admiral Charles Medani believes as Oliver twist believes, that the biggest issue in maritime security in West Africa is not just skills but platforms.

He called on the European Partners to also look at the possibility of providing enforcement capability alongside the expertise.

A representative from the National Security Adviser, Major-General Babatunde Samuel, as well as the EU CRIMGO Training Coordinator, Eric Glotin, gave assurance that the continuous training of maritime security stakeholders and impartation of technical skills would help to decrease the challenges currently being faced by nations in West Africa.

The training was held at the NNS Victory Jetty in Calabar the Cross River State capital. It is a bi-annual event.