Commit to Gulf of Guinea security "Akufo-Addo urges members"
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged his colleague members of the Gulf of Guinea Commission to show more political commitment to the fight against maritime-related crimes in the region.
He said it was crucial for member states to come up with strategies to secure the peace and security of the region, and conquer piracy, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, arms trafficking, pollution of the environment, smuggling, and fuel and crude oil theft.
President Akufo-Addo, who is the Chairman of the commission, stated this at the opening of the Third Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the Gulf of Guinea Commission at the Jubilee House in Accra yesterday.
The commission aims to create conditions of mutual confidence, peace and security conducive to the harmonious development of member states, and to promote close consultation in the exploitation of the natural resources of the Gulf of Guinea.
The members are Ghana, Angola, Cameroun, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria and Sao Tome and Principe.
Established in 2001, Ghana joined in 2017.
President Akufo-Addo urged members of the commission to continue to work to address the maritime security issues, and to build a safe, secure and prosperous Gulf of Guinea region for sustainable development.
He urged members to exhibit commitment by paying their statutory contributions to the commission and attending the statutory meetings at the highest and most appropriate levels.
President Akufo-Addo, in his capacity as the Chairman of the commission, brought up for discussion the issue of finding means of making the region safe, secure and prosperous, and the deliberation of whether it was in their collective interest to enlarge the Gulf of Guinea Commission.
He proposed the possible expansion of the membership of the commission to include all the 19 coastal states of the geopolitical Gulf of Guinea for effective collaboration of their respective navys, coast guards and other relevant maritime security agencies in the geopolitical space.
The President said the enlargement was intended to have as member states all the coastal states of Western and Central Africa, from Cape Verde to Angola instead of only the coastal states of the geographical Gulf of Guinea region, from Cote D'Ivoire to Angola, as was currently set out in the 2001 treaty establishing the Gulf of Guinea Commission.
“It is important to note that for the expansion to become effective, the treaty of the commission will have to be amended to allow for the inclusion of all the coastal states in the region from Cape Verde to Angola,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo swore in the Executive Secretary from Equatorial Guinea, the Deputy Executive Secretary for Political Affairs from Nigeria, the Deputy Executive Secretary for Natural Resources from Angola, and the Director of Administration from Ghana.
The position of Director of Finance remains vacant, and President Akufo-Addo appealed to members to fulfil their obligations to the commission to enable them to put up candidates for the position.
He said the commission’s financial difficulties occasioned by the non-payment or irregular payments of contributions by some member states, as well as irregular statutory meetings as enshrined in the rules of procedure of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Commission, should not continue.
The outgoing Executive Secretary of the commission, Florentina Adenike Ukonga, expressed worry about the lack of commitment to the work of the commission, and appealed to member states to resource the body to be able to execute its mandate.
She recounted how the commission had moved offices three times leading to the loss and break down of equipment and the lack of repairs for their offices and facilities, saying all of it affected smooth operations.
After the opening session, attended by President Muhammad Buhari of Nigeria, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea and representatives of other member states, the meeting moved to closed door session.