BY PHILIP NWOSU
The Nigerian Navy on Wednesday said that a secured maritime environment remains a contributing factor to the economic prosperity of any nation.
The Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Jason Gbassa said this during a courtesy visit of Spanish Navy Ship (SNS) MV VIGIA to the Command’s port, explaining that collaboration between navies remains a key factor towards maintaining security over an environment particularly over a maritime environment.
Admiral Gbassa said that the visit of SNS MV VIGIA was aimed at strengthening bilateral relations between Nigeria and Spain as well as enhancing maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.
“Spain as well as other nations of the world have found it necessary to collaborate because of the impact of criminalities on our waters to the trade between our nations.
“A secured maritime environment is a contributing factor to the economy’s prosperity of nations and we are grateful that you have joined hands with us,” the FOC said.
According to Gbassa, the visit goes beyond the military components that involves the two navies, interacting, meeting and conducting exercises alone together.
He said that there was also the trade element between Nigeria and Spain which the visit would help enhance the trade factor between the two nations.
“Earlier in April, we received SNS FUROR and this is now a repeat which goes a long way to show how Spain values her relations with Nigeria.
“We will do everything within our powers to encourage and to further enhance whatever it is, for us to do, to ensure that the two navies work together.
“We hope that while you are here, you will gladly share intelligence with us and let us know how the Nigerian Navy can assist to make your mission easy,” the FOC said.
Gbassa recalled that Spain participated in Obangame Express 2021 which held earlier and said that they had been participating annually whenever the exercise held.
“We have benefited from it through joint exercise to improve our capacity and I believe that you too must have gained one or two things from us as well.
“It is to our own mutual benefit that this visit and port calls be encouraged and these missions be encouraged.
“We look forward to more, happening in the years ahead,” the rear admiral said.
Also, the FOC, Naval Training Command (NAVTRAC) Rear Admiral Kamarudeen Lawal welcomed SNS MV VIGIA and sought training opportunities for Nigerian Navy pilots to have comparative training in flight operations.
“If the Spanish Navy can oblige us such opportunity, it will be to a great advantage for the Nigerian Navy.
“Their visit is coming at a time when the Nigerian Navy is in dire need of training especially in the fight against piracy in the Gulf of Guniea,” Rear Adm. Lawal said.
He said that NAVTRAC’s task was to continue to train and retrain officers and ratings for an efficient Nigerian Navy.
“Recently, we graduated 19 Special Boat Services (SBS) operators from our SBS school and it is gratifying to note that nine of those officers and ratings are from Ghana Navy.
“So, on our part we have been training sister African countries as to contribute to our fight against piracy in the Gulf of Guinea,” the FOC said.
He reiterated the need for the Nigerian Navy and Spanish Navy to collaborate in the area of training especially technical trainings for officers and ratings.
“I congratulate you on the efforts that you have been putting in the fight against piracy both in the Indian Ocean and in the Gulf of Guinea.
“I ensure you that the Nigerian Navy on it’s part will not relent on it’s effort in the fight against piracy and illegal activities in our maritime environment,” Rear Adm. Lawal said.
Also speaking, the Spanish Ambassador to Nigeria, Marcelino Cabanas Ansorena said that ensuring a secured maritime environment through collaboration was important because of the volume of trade between the two countries.
“80 percent of the trade with Nigeria goes through the Gulf of Guniea therefore, it is important for us to participate and collaborate with you.
“Training will be one part of the collaboration exercise as well as sharing information which is important to update knowledge on security about the sea and the Spanish Navy vessels,” he said.
The ambassador said that Spain would like to share from it’s experience, gathered from fighting piracy over the years with the Nigerian Navy to improve security in the Gulf of Guniea.
“Spanish Navy vessels have quite an experience in the fight against piracy even now, we have command of the Western Navy vessels at Operation Atlanta in the Indian Sea.
“So, we will like to collaborate and share of these experiences that we have to improve our bond and strengthen our bilateral relationship,” Ansorena said.