Lagos — Nigeria and the United States of America are expected to lead 20 countries in a sea exercise, tagged Obangame 2014, scheduled to hold simultaneously in three West African nations.
The participating countries are United States of America, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Turkey, Brazil and Denmark, Belgium Netherland, Portugal and the host nation Nigeria. Others are Angola, Ghana, Cameroun, Equatorial Guinea, Benin Republic, Cote Devoir, Gabon, Togo, Republic of Congo and Sao Tome and Principe while South Africa is being expected as observer.
Fourteen foreign ships and nine Nigerian Navy ships are also expected to participate in the exercise in Lagos area. Two Nigerian Navy helicopters and Nigerian Air Force ATR 42 aircraft will provide air cover in terms of surveillance, medical evacuation and search and rescue, it was gathered.
The exercise, OBANGAME EXPRESS 2014, started on April 10, 2014, with arrival and in-land training at the Joint Maritime Security Training Centre, Ojo, and it is being coordinated at the newly established maritime operations centre in Western Naval Command Headquarters at Apapa.
Addressing newsmen in Lagos, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Samuel Ilesanmi Alade, stated that the event is very important as it concerns maintenance of security in the nation's maritime environment.
"There is no doubt that the huge resources and potential in the Gulf of Guinea are being undermined by multifaceted domestic, regional and international threats and vulnerabilities. Rather than contributing to the stability and economic prosperity of countries in this region, pervasive insecurity in this resource laden maritime environment has resulted in multi-billion dollars losses annually. Nigeria, like any other maritime nation relies on the sea for harvesting of resources, commerce and international trade. For some years, efforts have been intensified to tackle the security challenges of piracy, poaching, smuggling, oil theft, trafficking and other transnational crimes," he added.