President Muhammadu Buhari says it is in the best interest of member states, and of Nigeria in particular, to fortify the Gulf of Guinea Commission, so it can perform the roles for which it was set up.
The president stated this on Tuesday in a virtual audience with the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Mrs Florentina Adenike Ukonga, a Nigerian.
He said: “The Gulf of Guinea is very strategic, and it is regrettable that most member states of the Commission are not up and doing.
“We need to check the theft of oil through the Gulf, the smuggling of arms and ammunition, and the breaking of border regulations through the waters,” he said.
He promised that Nigeria would be alive to her responsibilities in terms of prompt payment of dues, adding that he would also write leaders of member states “to participate actively in the programmes of the Commission, and to defray their financial commitments.”
While thanking Angola, where the secretariat of the Commission is based, for keeping faith with its responsibilities, Buhari pledged that in spite of the economic challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic, “we should keep the organization going.”
Ukonga had raised the many ills that plague the Commission to include lack of funds, through non-payment of annual dues by member countries and poor attendance at meetings or sending of low level representation.
She also identified non-holding of elections to determine who the next Chairman would be, since Nigeria finished her tenure in 2018, as another challenge being experienced by the commission
According to her, the Commission is the framework for consultation on issues of development and cooperation by members, lamenting that in the absence of such, there were deleterious developments like overfishing of the waters, oil theft, pollution issues, arms trafficking, and others.
She appealed to President Buhari to rally the leaders of member countries, “so that the Commission can fulfill its purpose.’’