Nigerian Navy chief urges cooperation during SA visit


The chief of the Nigerian Navy and his South African counterpart have urged greater cooperation between African navies for the sake of collective security and economic prosperity, during a meeting earlier this week.

The Chief of Naval Staff of the Nigerian Navy, Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba, arrived in South Africa as a follow-up to the bilateral defence agreement that emerged during President Goodluck Jonathan’s visit to South Africa in May. Ezeoba met with his South African counterpart Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu in Pretoria on Monday.

The two chiefs called for greater cooperation amongst African navies, with Ezeoba calling for naval cooperation to promote economic development, reports Nigeria’s Daily Times. “If we are able to enforce the [proposed maritime] legal framework, it would allow for mutual cooperation by way of training, joint training and exercises by ensuring that we enforce the rights of innocent passage as captured within the framework of free navigation. All these will promote the economic development of our continent and ensuring that our maritime bases are safe for other purposes,” he said.

Mudimu said that collaborative naval exercises would help improve the capabilities of African navies while at the same time keep the continent secure.
“The South African Navy and the Nigerian Navy are among the biggest navies in Africa. So, we need to do things together in the area of training and in the area of port visits,” Mudimu is quoted by the Voice of Nigeria as saying. “We have done this before and we need to continue and build more of it. Through these navies coming together, we can mobilize the smaller navies on the continent and say ‘look, in partnership we have a chance of succeeding’.”
“The desire to build a very strong navy for the protection of the coast of Africa is very paramount. Currently we observe how the African coast is exploited by outsiders…if we ourselves as African navies don’t articulate the position of how we need to protect the coast of Africa, we become vulnerable,” Mudimu was quoted by Voice of Nigeria as saying.

South African Navy Director of Naval Personnel, Rear Admiral Asiel Kubu, said that the cooperation between South Africa and Nigeria was “long overdue,” and could assist in the development of the continent.

Ezeoba later toured the Southern African Shipyards (SAS) facility in Durban, where the company is currently refurbishing South African Navy strike craft and converting them for the offshore patrol role. Four vessels are being converted. He told SAS that that Nigeria could partner with the company over ship construction and maintenance.