President Tinubu excited as Nigeria acquires new ‘rich’ maritime territory


President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has expressed his appreciation to the UN for approving Nigeria’s request to grant sovereignty of about 16,300 square kilometres of additional new maritime territory to the country.

The President expressed his excitement at the development when a High Powered Presidential Committee (HPPC) on Nigeria’s Extended Continental Shelf Project briefed him on the development on Tuesday in Abuja.

The HPPC team briefed the President on the development in a technical presentations by Prof. Larry Awosika, a marine scientist and member of the Committee, and Aliyu Omar, Secretary of the HPPC.

The HPPC also submitted its report to the President.

The experts said they had been involved in the project since 2009 when the country made its initial submission to extend its continental shelf to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS)

‘’When the HPPC briefed former President Muhammadu Buhari in 2022 on the status of the project, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) was still considering Nigeria’s submission and having technical interactions with the HPPC.

’These interactions and consideration have now culminated in the approval for Nigeria to extend its continental shelf beyond 200M (200 nautical miles).

‘’As it stands now, the area approved for Nigeria is about 16,300 square kilometres, which is about five times the size of Lagos State,’’ Omar said.

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He added that the official notification of the decision was conveyed to Nigeria by the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) in August 2023, shortly after Tinubu assumed office.

Omar outlined the available options for Nigeria following the approval:

‘’The first option is to take the area gained and finalise the registration with the UN Secretary-General and close everything, meaning that we are satisfied with what we got. This will take at least one year.

‘’The second option is to take what we have right now, acquire more data, do a support write-up, and make a revised submission as recommended by CLCS for further consideration. This will take another four years.

’Either way (options), Nigeria will keep what has been approved.’’

In his presentation, Awosika explained that the approval came after years of scientific research on geophysics, geology, geography, and diplomatic efforts, which solidified Nigeria’s legal rights over a vast expanse of seabed and subsoil beyond its traditional territorial waters.

Awosika highlighted the economic potential of the newly acquired territory, which includes hydrocarbons, gas, solid minerals, and a wide variety of sedentary species.

He, however, cautioned against total disclosure of sensitive data acquired during surveys, noting that this would jeopardize confidentiality as Nigeria is expected to monetise the information to recover project expenses.

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Responding, President Tinubu thanked the experts for their diligence, emphasizing the significance of the achievement for Nigeria’s economic and strategic interests.

‘‘This is big congratulations for Nigeria,’’ he said while recounting how former President Buhari had briefed him on the importance of the project.

‘’At COP28 in Dubai, I also exchanged views with President Lula of Brazil on the need for collaboration within our economic and maritime boundaries.

‘’Today, it is a great honour for me to receive this report. I have listened attentively to this very specialised report, and I know it took a whole lot of effort to get to this stage.

‘’I commend the team, and we must take advantage of this and invite you again to have a repeat of this knowledge exploration on geography, hydrography, and the marine life.

‘’Nigeria is grateful for the efforts that you put into gaining additional territory for the country without going to war. Some nations went to war, lost people and economic opportunities.

‘’We lost nothing but have gained great benefits for Nigeria. We will pursue the best option for the country,’’ the President said.

Hassan Tukur, Chairman of the HPPC; Chief of Staff to the President, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, and the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, also attended the meeting.

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