Rear Admiral Emeka Okafor Identifies Hydrography As Key To Socio-Economic Development

Hyacinth Chinweuba

Nigerian Navy Hydrographer, Rear Admiral Emeka Okafor has identified Hydrography as Key to Socio-Economic Development.

Rear Admiral Okafor said this at the 2022 World Hydrography Day which held at the Admiralty Conference Centre Naval Dockyard, Victoria Island, Lagos.

“World Hydrography Day presents an opportunity, for stakeholders in hydrography, all over the world, to highlight the importance of hydrography, to the socio-economic development of both littoral and land-locked nations.

“In order to properly focus the attention of the world to the specific human life supported by hydrography, the International Hydrographic Organisation choses a theme for each year’s world hydrographic day celebration.

“Accordingly, the theme for the 2022 world hydrography day is, “Hydrography: Contributing to the United Nations Ocean Decade.”

“This theme, seeks to outline the important role hydrography plays, and, will continue to play, as the world looks for solution, to the deteriorating health of its oceans, from 2021 to 2030.

“It is no longer news, that, the world’s oceans cover over 70 per cent of the earth’s surface, with nearly half of the world’s human population, living within 50 miles of a coast, and more than 3.5 billion people depend on the oceans for their primary source of food.

“The oceans of the world form the clouds that bring us rain, which replenish our freshwater supplies. It also regulates our climate, provides endless source of renewable energy, and revenue generation for nations.

“Above all, the oceans provide numerous medicinal and health benefits to us, as many bio-medical products, which we take, are derived from marine plant and animal sources within the oceans.

“Despite these benefits, human activities are increasingly resulting to marine pollution, ocean acidification, overfishing and sea level rise among others, which directly impinge on the intricate workings, that keep the oceans and our planet, in a perfect symbiotic balance.

“This situation, prompted the United Nations in 2017, to declare the period from 2021 to 2030, as a Decade of Ocean Science, for Sustainable Development, in order to enable humanity, to rethink its relationship, with the world’s oceans.

“This is to be achieved, through the use of ocean sciences, to understand the severity of human activities, on the health of the oceans, in order to institute governance measures, that would ensure conservation, and sustainable use of the oceans.

“In this regard, hydrography, as a branch of applied sciences, stands out as a major scientific tool, that offers indispensable knowledge, which mariners and policy makers, could leverage to ensure conservation and sustainable use of the oceans.

“If you look around you, almost everything that sustains human lives; whether goods, services or even production, is likely, to have been made available through the oceans. Ships, as we know, will be unable to safely sail, from one part of the ocean, to another without accurate and up-to-date hydrographic information.

“Furthermore, hydrography provides the basic information required for all forms of studies, engineering, regulatory framework, and management, within the oceans.

“As we deliberate on the contributions of hydrography, towards the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans for the next decade, we need to ask ourselves, how much of hydrographic information is available to policy makers in Nigeria, to guide them in the governance of Nigeria’s territorial waters, as a part of the world’s oceans?

“How much of hydrographic information is available to maritime users in Nigeria to enable them engage in practices that would ensure the conservation and sustainable use of Nigeria’s waters? Again, what ocean education, does the people living within 50 miles of Nigeria’s coast, have to enable them indulge in activities that would improve the health of Nigeria’s waters?

“Lastly, how many of our policy makers, are aware that, hydrographic information, can help them provide regulatory framework, to facilitate sustainable interactions within Nigeria’s ocean?

“I strongly believe, that, at the end of today’s world hydrography day celebration in Nigeria, answers to these posers would have been provided. I also believe that today’s event would provide enough awareness on how effective hydrographic service delivery in Nigeria, would help reduce plastic wastes, manufactured chemicals, petroleum wastes, agricultural runoff, and biological threats in our waters.

“This, would in-turn improve Nigeria’s economy, and the health of its citizenry, as harmful toxins, ingested through eating contaminated seafoods, would be reduced to barest minimum.

“My optimism, is predicated on the fact that, Nigeria has never witnessed the kind of hydrographic developmental strides, and capacities it currently has.

“For instance, Nigeria is today among the chart producing nations of the world, capable of producing not just nautical charts, but also specialized hydrographic products, like, Environmental Sensitivity Index charts, beach gradient maps and several nautical publications, to guide policy makers, maritime security agencies and mariners alike, while engaging in any form of maritime activities.

“Nigeria is also able to generate and disseminate maritime safety information to all users. There is also reasonable number of human capital, available in the Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, National Inland Waterways Authority, National Institute for Oceanographic and Marine Research, the academia and in the private sector, to conduct marine scientific research, that would provide more information of our waters, to facilitate sustainable use of our oceans, in line with the objectives of the UN’s Ocean Decade.

“Additionally, the 60-meter offshore survey vessel, in the inventory of the NN, as well as one 35-meters coastal survey boat, and two inland survey boats due to be delivered to the NN and National Inland Waterways Authority, respectively, suggest that there would be adequate hydrographic information for all users across the country, within the period of the UN’s Decade of Ocean Science.

“There are also ongoing collaborative efforts among stakeholders to further improve the existing hydrographic capacities in the country. Currently, the Nigerian Navy, National Inland Waterways Authority and NEXIM Bank are surveying some critical inland waters of Nigeria, in order to provide more information that would facilitate measures to enhance sustainable development in Nigeria within the next decade.

“Additionally, Nigerian Navy and University of Lagos are working together to ensure sustainable supply of hydrographic skilled human capital to all stakeholders in Nigeria.

“These, and many more initiatives, would, no doubt facilitate availability of the right information of our waters, which would be utilized by Government, security agencies, researchers, the academia, mariners, and maritime practitioners to ensure proper management, conservation and sustainable use of Nigeria’s waters, towards the realization of the objectives of the UN Ocean Decade.

“I, therefore, urge you participants to leverage the advantages offered by this year’s world hydrography day to form bounds, create networks and exchange ideas.

“This is because more collaborations would be required in the coming years, so as to harness our individual hydrographic potentials for more improved hydrographic practice and efficient service delivery within the decade in view.

“The Nigerian Navy Hydrographic Office is willing to work with all relevant stakeholders to facilitate the fulfilment of Nigeria’s National and International hydrographic obligations.

“At this juncture, Special Guest of Honour, distinguished invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, please permit me to acknowledge the strategic guidance and support received from the Chief of the Naval Staff, through my immediate boss, the Chief of Training and Operations, which have enabled Nigerian Navy Hydrographic Office to sustain momentum in hydrographic capacity development of Nigeria.

“Sir, we are grateful and always ready for further directives. I am also grateful to the leadership of the Nigerian Ports Authority, National Inland Waterways Authority, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NEXIM Bank, National Institute for Oceanographic and Marine Research, Nigerian Hydrographic Society and University of Lagos, for sharing your hydrographic capabilities with us.

“This has, in no small measure, added to the overall hydrographic capacity development of Nigeria, and ultimately, positioned Nigeria as one of the countries of the world that would fully restore the health of its part of the world’s oceans, by the year 2030.

“I wish to recognize also the foundation laid by past Hydrographers of the Navy and those of other agencies present here, without which there would be nothing for us to build on.

“We are grateful for your mentorship and the training we received from you when you were with us. To the upcoming hydrographers, I urge you to pay attention to our mentorship and instructions, for that is the only sure way, of achieving sustainability in hydrographic capacity development, when you take over the baton from us.

“On this note, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to thank all our distinguished guests for honouring our invitation. We are not unmindful of the traffic huddles you crossed to be with us this morning. We greatly appreciate your presence. Once again, welcome to the 2022 world hydrography day celebration in Nigeria. God bless you all; ‘Onward Together’.” he said.

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