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Nigeria, US to Safeguard Gulf of Guinea

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Abuja — The Gulf of Guinea is a strategic part of the Atlantic Ocean. Situated at the intersection of the Equator and Prime Meridian. It is rich in minerals and reputed to hold the world’s largest crude oil deposit.

Nigeria, Angola, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea,Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe are the Nations in the region.

Piracy is emerging as a profitable business in the region. This and other economic factors have made the U.S. to become increasingly interested in the area.

Consequently, the U.S. has boosted its military presence in the area with a view to improving regional security.

“Our goal is to nourish strategic partners, whether they are individual nations or regional and sub-regional organisations,” Jendayi Frazer, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said at last year’s regional maritime security conference in Cotonou, Benin Republic, sponsored in part by the U.S. government.

West African nations can improve international investment significantly if they cooperate to protect oil reserves and shipping lanes, Frazer said at the security conference.

This perhaps informed a joint sea exercise tagged”EXERCISE OBANGAME 2011″ an annual Central African exercise, which held recently and was sponsored by the U.S. Navy in conjunction with the navies of some African nations, including Nigeria.

The exercise was operationally controlled from the Economic Community of Central African States Command Centre in Douala, Cameroon.

The Word “Obaganme” comes from the Fang language and means “togetherness” and this name was selected by African participants as proof of their commitment to promoting regional cooperation among the navies of the countries in the Gulf of Guinea.

A total of nine countries — Nigeria, United States, Belgium, France, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe, Spain, Congo and Cameroon – participated in the exercise.

Nigeria was represented by the Nigerian Navy Ship KYAVWA, while the U.S. Navy frigate, Robert G BRADLEY, led the exercise that was conducted in two distinct locations.

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According to the organisers, OBAGAME EXPRESS 2011 was designed to promote the interoperability and proficiency of the regional maritime stakeholders in theGulf of Guinea to fight piracy and human trafficking.

The exercise included events such as visits, boarding, search and seizure as directed by the Multinational Command Centre at shore.

Lt.-Cdr. Dwight Isaacs of the U.S. Navy and the Leader of Control Group commended Nigeria’s performance during the exercise, noting that “they were a bigger asset and they helped out tremendously”.

Commodore Andrew Dacosta, Director of Training, Nigerian Navy, said such exercises and training would enhance the skills of officers and ratings of the Navy.

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