As the 2016 Exercise Obangame/Saharan Express kicked off yesterday in Senegal, Nigeria, Cameroon and other participating African countries are said to lack political will to address some maritime challenges on the continent.
Addressing journalists during a telephone press briefing on Wednesday, the Chief of Multinational Coordination Centre Zone D, Capt. Sylvestre Mbah, noted that though Nigeria, Cameroon and other African nations that are part of the Obangame exercise had benefited in terms of capacity building and information sharing, absence of political will and poor legal framework was slowing down the progress.
“Challenge of political will is there facing us. Each country must have maritime strategy. Political will and legal framework are part of the challenges facing the Gulf of Guinea. After operational success recorded, there are legal constraints calling for legal reforms,” Mbah said.
He urged Nigeria and others to implement Yaounde Code of Conduct and Maritime Insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea, adding that African nations must act beyond protecting only their territorial waters.
When asked why Cameroon does not allow Nigeria to pursue suspected ships into the former’s territory, the MCC Zone D coordinator stated that it was a political issue which he would not comment on.
Exercise Obangame is a multinational maritime exercise sponsored by the United States Africa Command which brings together African, European, South American and the US forces to enhance cooperation and expertise in maritime security operations.
According to the US head of Military Sealift Command Europe and Africa, Navy Captain Heidi Agle, the exercise enhances capacity of African navies “to go after bad guys and to enforce rule of law”.
Agle stated further that through real war scenarios, information sharing, Obangame has made it possible to “improve tourism, economic activities and being one step ahead of our common foe”.
The closing ceremony of the exercise will be in Cameroon next week.
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