President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Tuesday, 25th April 2023, hosted President Muhammadu Buhari and other Heads of States and High-Level Government officials of member countries to the 3rd Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Gulf of Guinea Commission in Accra.
The Heads of States and High-level representatives of member countries and observers will deliver remarks and discuss burgeoning issues and strategies for strengthening peace and security in the fight against maritime-related crimes in the region.
Speaking at the opening of the session on the theme, “Building a Safe, Secure and Prosperous Gulf of Guinea Region for Sustainable Development”, President Akufo-Addo said, this meeting, which is the first in-person session of the Commission since 2019, will make up for “the real and rare opportunities for frank and more meaningful exchange of views towards finding solutions to the many problems of our continent, especially, our Gulf of Guinea Region”.
Sitting in as Chairman of the session, he pointed out that, the first formal purpose of the meeting, “is the swearing in of the new Executive Committee Members, as decided at the last virtual meeting, the 5th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government, hosted by the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the same session where, he added, Ghana was chosen to chair the Commission in succession to Nigeria, whose mandate had come to an end.
Other key issues to be discussed, President Akufo-Addo said, included the persistent matter of finding means of making our region a safe, secure and prosperous one and “the deliberation on whether it is in our collective interest to enlarge the Gulf of Guinea Commission, so that we will have, as Member States, all the Coastal States of West and Central Africa – from Cabo Verde to Angola – instead of only the coastal states of the geographical Gulf of Guinea Region from Côte d’Ivoire to Angola, as is currently set out in the 2001 Treaty Establishing the Gulf of Guinea Commission.”
“It is important to note that, for the expansion to become effective, the Treaty of the Commission will have to be amended to allow the inclusion of all the coastal states in the Region – from Cabo Verde to Angola,” he stated.
President Akufo-Addo said these matters are important “in order to come up with strategies geared towards strengthening peace and security, and winning the fight against maritime-related crimes in the Region, such as piracy, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, arms trafficking, pollution of the environment, smuggling, fuel and crude oil theft.”
He was confident that a well-coordinated collaboration and co-operation on matters of common interest amongst the countries of the Region is crucial because of the inter-connectivity of maritime activities and thus reduce illegal activities at sea and “make us build a safe, secure and prosperous Gulf of Guinea Region for sustainable development.”
Concluding he said, “since the establishment of the Gulf of Guinea Commission, when five countries (Angola, Republic of Congo, Gabon, Nigeria and Sao Tome and Principe) signed the Treaty in Libreville, Gabon, on 3rd July 2001, the Commission has witnessed the accession of four other Member States (Equatorial Guinea in 2006, Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon in 2009 and Ghana in 2017).”
President Akufo-Addo ended with as call on other countries in the Region who have shown interest in the past by attending Gulf of Guinea Commission meetings and seminars, and have made enquiries regarding membership to follow through on the show of interest with action.