The Nigerian Navy and the visiting Spanish Navy have agreed on furthering their bond through more sea exercises and intelligence- sharing to improve the maritime domain security in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG).
Speaking during a visit to the Western Naval Command on Wednesday, the Spanish Ambassador to Nigeria, Marceleno Cabanas Ansorena, said the visit of the Spanish Navy Ship VIGIA to Nigeria marked his country’s continued interest in sustaining the bond of existing friendship between both countries.
He remarked that at the heart of the joint seas exercise was the need to collaborate and assist Nigeria in the maritime security effort, in which the Nigerian Navy plays a very vital role.
He commended the Nigerian Navy for its asset and human capacity for the maritime security activities.
His words: “The Nigerian Navy for us is a very important partner. The visit of the Spanish Navy vessel MV VIGIA is just to prove that we want to assist, collaborate and cooperate with the Nigerian Navy and Nigeria generally, for the efforts you are doing for the safety, security in the Gulf of Guinea.
“The Commanding Officer of the Spanish Naval Ship MV VIGIA, Lt Cdr. Javier Garcia, is very impressed with the capacity and assets of the Nigerian Navy, as well, am I.
“We want to strengthen the bonds; the Admiral knows that the bond that already exists between Nigerian Navy and the Spanish Navy is very important. But in the future, we want to strengthen the important exercise, to re-enforce the security in the Gulf of Guinea and Spain would like to participate in this effort.”
Ansorena noted that Spain would continue to be interested in a better-secure GoG because of its huge volume of trade with Nigeria, while 80 per cent of Nigeria’s trade goes through the GoG.
He added that: “Training is one part of the exercise. Collaborations and joint exercises and of course, information-sharing, so we know about the security in the sea, and the Spanish Navy vessel has quite an experience to fight against piracy.”
Welcoming the visiting Spanish Navy Ship team, the Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Jason Gbassa, said the Nigerian Navy would uphold every effort at ensuring improved security and safe navigation through the GoG at all times.
He said the Navy welcomes collaborations with Spain, seeing that beyond sea exercises, there is trade to be protected for the economic benefit of the country.
“First, we must realise that the GoG is critical to global trade. It is very important. So, every effort we need to take to secure and ensure safe navigation through the GoG is welcome.
“This visit, beyond the military components that involves the two navies interacting, meeting and conducting training exercise together, there is a trade element between the two nations; Nigeria and Spain that this visit will enhance our trade factor.
“Two months ago, we received the MV Furor from Spain, and this is a repeat. This goes to show how Spain values Nigeria. And we do everything within our powers to encourage and to further enhance whatever we need to do to support the two navies working together,” Admiral Gbassa said.
Also receiving the Spanish Naval Ship team, the Flag Officer Commanding, Naval Training Command (NAVTRAC), Rear Admiral Kamarudeen Lawal, told his visitors that the Command with 13 training schools across five geopolitical zones and eight states of the Federation has done well in meeting its mandate.
He said: “Our task is to continue to train and retrain officers and ratings so we can have an efficient navy. So far, the command has been able to meet up the task it has been given.
“The Command was established in 1987 to superintend local trainings. Before 1987, 85 per cent of Nigerian Navy trainings were done abroad, but as I speak to you, 95 per cent of our training is done locally.”
Admiral Lawal added that Nigerian Navy has also been giving specialised training to navies of neighbouring countries as a contribution to strengthening the effort in the fight against piracy in the GoG.
He said: “Recently we were able to graduate about 19 special boat services operators from our special boat services school and it is gratifying to note that nine of those officers and ratings were Ghanaians.
“So, the Nigerian Navy on its part has been trying to train sister African countries, so as to contribute our part in the fight against piracy in the GoG.
“I am sure that the Spanish Navy is aware that the Ghana Navy also has some special boat services operators mostly trained by Nigerian Navy and that has impacted positively in the fight against piracy in the GoG.
“It is also my believe that with the frequency of your visit to Nigeria, in no distance future the Nigerian Navy and the Spanish Navy would collaborate in the area of training, especially in technical training for officers and ratings.”
The Spanish Naval Ship MV VIGIA visit is aimed at strengthening bilateral relations between Nigeria and Spain as well as enhancing maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.
The ship has been carrying out exercises/drills with selected Nigerian Navy Ships in addition to other engagements. It will be in Lagos until the 12th of August, 2021.