By GODWIN ORITSE
NIgeria last year spent about N2.6 billion to provide security for the waterways of Cotonou, the Benin Republic capital, a development that has so far checkmated the activities of pirates around the area.
Disclosing this to Vanguard recently in Lagos, Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Maritime affairs, Mr. Leke Oyewole, said that the Nigerian government had to ensure that the waterways of Benin Republic are secured because of the understanding between both countries.
Oyewole noted that since the issue was decisively dealt with in that region, there has been some relative peace in that axis. The amount, according to Oyewole, was spent within the first six months of the operation of the project
The maritime expert stated that Nigeria is doing this in line with the bilateral agreement between both countries.
He stated that the move by Nigeria to assist a neighbouring country has gotten her commendations from the Economic Community of the West African States (ECOWAS) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
He further disclosed that at a point the President of Benin Republic Mr. Yayi Boni came to President Jonathan to solicit for help on the menace of pirates of Cotonou waters.
“Immediately after the complained, the Nigerian President swung into and sent men and materials to the country to quell the menace of pirates in that country.
According the Special Adviser, the Nigerian Navy is currently providing security for off shore operations of the Republic of Benin adding that Nigeria as a country is looking for a way of involving other countries in the West African coast and form a regional body for the purpose of security and safety on the entire West African coastline.
He also disclosed that several meetings have been held to work out the possibility and modality and that a platform to create this regional collaboration is in the making.
“Already, the European Union, the United Nations and France are very interested in what Nigeria has done in Cotonou and they have shown a lot of interest”.
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Nigeria spends N2.6bn to secure Cotonou waters