In today’s complex and dynamic threat environment, military leaders must effectively employ limited resources to execute their country’s national security strategy. Proceedings asked sea-service commanders around the world: It is often said that a nation’s national defense decisions are ultimately derived from its own sovereign interests. Given this presumption, what are the global trends that most influence your national security decision making and how does your navy use its operating policies, alliances, and partnerships to address these trends?
Vice Admiral UO Jibrin
The vital and strategic interests of Nigeria lie in its territorial seas and EEZ as the nation relies on offshore hydrocarbon extraction and shipping activities for economic prosperity. The wider Gulf of Guinea represents an area of strategic and peripheral interests where Nigeria’s sea lines of communication and regional objectives of security and peaceful co-existence converge. The protection of these interests is fully recognized under the National Defence Policy, yet it is well known that diverse threats currently contend with our maritime security aspirations. Threats such as attacks on shipping, crude oil theft, and illegal bunkering have assumed a disturbing trend and are characterized by the signature of cross-border and transnational criminal networks.
Some implications of this for the Nigerian Navy include the need to review strategy and prioritize capacity building for maritime-policing operations. Accordingly, the new Total Spectrum Maritime Strategy recognizes the necessity of a wide range of operations, from inland waters to the EEZ. Consideration for new offshore patrol vessels, seaward defence boats (SDBs), and inshore patrol craft top our acquisition agenda as indigenous ship construction at the Naval Dockyard remains a priority with a new SDB project. Expansion of maritime-domain-awareness infrastructure along the coast has the added desirable effect in the arrest of suspect vessels. The recent significant reduction in the volume of crude oil theft is also a desired result of ongoing efforts that the Nigerian Navy intends to build upon.
Leveraging the successes of the bilateral Operation Prosperity with the Benin Navy, we are committed to expanding the arrangement to include the Togolese Navy under the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) Pilot Zone E maritime security mechanism. Participation in the annual Obangame exercise with other Gulf of Guinea navies will continue as the Nigerian Navy hosts the 2014 iteration. The political-level adoption of a “Code of Conduct on Repression and Prevention of Piracy, Armed Robbery Against Ships and Illicit Maritime Activities in West and Central Africa” also provides a much-needed opportunity to deepen the Nigerian Navy’s desire for inter-regional maritime security cooperation. Building on the recent activation of information sharing with other Gulf of Guinea navies and stakeholders, the Nigerian Navy will continue to leverage inter-agency collaboration and existing partnerships toward curbing the illicit activities of local and transnational criminal networks. With expected new fleet additions, recent operational successes, and partnership commitments, the Nigerian Navy remains highly motivated to deliver on its statutory mandate within the purview of a secured Gulf of Guinea.