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Tinubu applauds Presidential Committee for Report, announces Nigeria gains additional territory in Continental Shelf

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu (mddle) Receiving the Report in the State House, Abuja, FCT

*President Bola Ahmed Tinubu applauds the experts on the High Powered Presidential Committee on Nigeria’s Extended Continental Shelf Project, announcing the United Nations has approved the West African country’s submission, granting it sovereignty over about 16, 300 additional square kilometres of maritime territory

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has received the report of the High Powered Presidential Committee (HPPC) on Nigeria’s Extended Continental Shelf Project.

Tinubu, who formally received the HPPC report on the project Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in the State House, Abuja, FCT, commended the team of experts who had worked hard over the years to advance the project.

ConsumerConnect reports the fundamental aim of the country’s Extended Continental Shelf Project is to extend Nigeria’s maritime boundaries in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), 1982.

Chief Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, also stated President Tinubu expressed his appreciation after listening to technical presentations by Prof. Larry Awosika, a marine scientist and member of the Committee, and Surveyor Aliyu Omar, Secretary of the HPPC respectively.

The Federal Government explained the experts had been involved in the project since Nigeria’s initial submission to extend its continental shelf to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), in 2009.

The Presidential Spokesman disclosed the experts on the project informed the President that the UN had approved Nigeria’s submission, granting sovereignty over additional square kilometres of maritime territory.

Earlier in his presentation, Surveyor Omar told President Tinubu: “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.”

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

Surveyor Omar, therefore, outlined the available options for Nigeria following the approval:

The expert said: “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, Prof. Awosika also explained that the approval came after years of meticulous 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.

The expert noted doing this would jeopardise confidentiality as Nigeria is expected to monetise the information to recover project expenses.

Big congratulations to Nigeria, says Tinubu

Responding to the experts’ submissions during the presentation of the HPPC report, President Tinubu thanked the experts for their diligence, as he emphasised the significance of the achievement for Nigeria’s economic and strategic interests.

The Nigerian leader averred: “This is big congratulations for Nigeria,’’ as he recounted how former President Muhammadu Buhari had briefed him on the importance of the project before leaving office May 29, 2023.

The President equally stated: “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 specialized report, and I know it took a whole lot of effort to get to this stage.”

He further said: “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.”

Tinubu added: “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.”

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

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