To nip the rising tide of maritime illegalities like piracy and crude oil theft, especially in the Gulf of Guinea, as well as boost the economy of both countries involved, the Nigerian Navy (NN) has partnered their Italian counterpart in training and maritime security.
The Italian Navy had stormed Nigeria with one of its massive warship under the 30 Italian Naval Group, comprising of Cavour Aircraft Carrier, Etna Supply Ship, Bergamini Frigate and Borsini patrol ship, with a crew of 1,200 sailors and marines, including 100 women.
Asides training, the visit, which was timed to fit into the centenary celebration, was also an avenue to boost investments and trade relations between both countries, as well as strengthen its diplomatic and bilateral ties.
While speaking on board the ship which is currently berthing at APM Terminals Apapa, Lagos, the Italian Ambassador, Stefano De Leo, said there is a lot of room for exchanging of information between both countries.
The ambassador said the visit of the 30 Italian Naval Group, which coincides with Nigeria’s centenary celebration, was to afford the ship and its company the opportunity to celebrate the history of Nigeria’s freedom, its people, achievements and aspirations.
He said, “This ship is a display of Italian capability and I believe we can work with the Nigerian government and harness the enormous potentials inherent in both countries.” The Naval Group Commander, Rear Admiral Paolo Treu, while addressing journalists said the presence of the ship was a respectful tribute to a Nigeria and a special sign of friendship from Italy.
He said the mission of the naval group in a campaign tagged, ‘A country on the move’ has seen them visit 19 countries and 20 ports, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, South Africa, Congo, Angola, Kenya, Dubai and Mozambique, amongst others.
He said the task of the campaign was to offer humanitarian assistance, maritime security operations, training, confidence building, cooperation, naval diplomacy and promotion of Italian entrepreneurial excellence.
He said, “One of our objectives is to promote joint exercises and training in order to develop the capabilities of some of the navies of the visited countries to boost their effectiveness in surveillance activities and maritime security in their operational environment, with Patie results in global security.
“Also, we would carry out humanitarian assistance through the operation smile non-profit organisation, the RAVA non-profit foundation and the Italian Red Cross and Red Crescent.”
In response, the Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Sam Alade, said the Nigerian Navy has stepped up its training programme and has developed strategies to reposition the service to tackle emerging challenges.
He said this was in line with the vision and mission of the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin, adding that the service is ready to wage an unrelenting war against oil theft, illegal bunkering and piracy in the maritime domain.
In his speech, Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, said Lagos remains the location of first choice for local and foreign direct investors in Nigeria and the ECOWAS sub-region because it accounts for almost 75 per cent of industries and remains the hub of socio-economic and cultural activities.
Fashola who was represented by the Special Adviser, Commerce and Industry, Seyi Oladejo, said the visit would enable both countries cement their bilateral relations and open opportunities for other economic investments that would enhance job creation and wealth generation.