Togolese President, Faure Gnassingbe, on Thursday said $7billion is lost to piracy in the Gulf of Guinea annually due to insecurity in the country.
Mr. Gnassingbe stated this at a joint press briefing with his host, President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa, noting that the figure rose by 13.6% ($950million) in 2013, following increased level of insecurity in some of the countries in the Gulf.
Nigeria, alongside some other West African countries have since 2009 been bedevilled by Boko Haram’s relentless attacks on military and civilians, killing thousands and leaving about 1.4 million internally displaced.
He stressed the need for the member countries to cooperate in efforts to curb the activities of the pirates, adding that no single country can fight on its own.
“If all the African countries are on the same page it would be easy to tackle the security challenges. So we have to keep holding summits, because individual countries cannot combat piracy effectively without cooperation,” he said, inviting President Buhari to a maritime summit which is to hold in November.
The summit, the Togolese President said, will also address issues of oil theft through the sea, as well as illicit trafficking of drugs and human, which are some of the problems Nigeria is currently tackling.
Mr. Gnassingbe stated further that another important issue that would be discussed at the summit is the issue of migration, considering the porous nature of the region’s borders.
Recalling incidents of immigrants drowning while making their way to Europe, he said “We cannot sit and do nothing about it. We have to ensure that those who want to travel out go there in a good condition”.
He commended the president and the Nigerian Armed Forces for efforts at combating terrorism in West Africa, stating that security within the region had become a major issue.
In his remark, Mr. Buhari expressed appreciation for the concern showed by his guest, noting that it had not been an easy task trying to fight on so many fronts: “the North East, the South South and then try to provide infrastructure in our country”.
He said Nigeria cannot afford to lose such amount to piracy in its current financial state, adding that there was the need for cooperation amongst the African countries.
He said his administration would give more attention to agriculture and manufacturing “so that everybody can be employed and then we will have much less problems”.
“Since the cooperation of the regional countries comprising Cameroun, Chad, Niger and Benin Republic, we identified our problem and have achieved positive results in terms of the isolation of Boko Haram and giving a chance to peace,” said Mr. Buhari.
Both leaders agreed to foster stronger bilateral ties and cooperation.