The French government on Wednesday expressed willingness to offer the Nigerian Navy its full cooperation, to tackle piracy and other forms of insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea.
France Defence Attaché to Nigeria, Nicolas Rambaud, made this known when he met with officials of the Nigerian Navy Hydrographic School (NNHS) in Port Harcourt.
Mr Rambaud, a colonel, said the Nigerian Navy ,being the dominant navy in the Gulf of Guinea, had what it takes to secure the region’s waters, with support from France.
“France has a very big interest in good bilateral cooperation between our two great nations.
“Going by the fact that both countries have navies, then it is logical that we have a lot to do in common to improve the security in the Gulf of Guinea.
“Nigerian Navy is doing a lot, and we are convinced that thanks to our friendship that we can improve security in the region.
“So, the French Government will welcome more robust bilateral cooperation between both countries,” he said.
Mr Rambaud commended the Nigerian Navy for having acquired about 17 warships from French companies in the last few years.
He said the country would in the coming weeks take delivery of a state-of-the-art hydrographic research and survey vessel from France.
“The ship, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Lana, is a high-tech modern hydrographic vessel and will depart French shores on April 16 to Nigeria, according to plan.
“The NNS Lana on arrival would enable the Nigerian Navy to better chart its waters for greater security.
“So, the reason for our visit to NNHS is to anticipate the ship’s arrival; discuss our bilateral cooperation and understand better the direction the Nigerian Navy desires assistance from the French Government,” he added.
Speaking, the Commanding Officer of NNHS, Mahmud Fana, said NNHS was the only naval hydrographic school of its kind in the entire West African Sub-region.
Mr Fana, a captain, sought France assistance in the establishment of a mini weather observatory station, to boost training of personnel in the school.
“We also demanded among others the French Government assist us to commence a French (language) training programme in the school by Alliance Francaise.
“We also discussed the possibility of assisting the NNHS with a small survey launcher boat, which will greatly enhance the practical aspect of our hydrographic training.
“Fourthly, we requested for capacity development especially in the areas of Oceanography and Cartonography.
“We also appealed for training on maritime safety information – which we have already started with the French Naval Hydrographic and Oceanography Service (Shom) in France,” Mr Fana said.
The commanding officer said the France attaché assured him of the French government’s willingness to look into the navy’s requests.
According to him, the requests when granted would greatly enhance the Nigerian Navy capacity to produce charts for the nation’s maritime environment.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that NNHS was established in 1983 to train naval forces in charting the nation’s territorial waters.