al Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF)—representing 186 maritime unions with a combined membership of 700,000 people—formally petitioned the main em- ployers group, the International Maritime Employers Committee (IMEC)—representing over 100 shipping firms that together employ around 145,000 people— for crews operating in Nigeria’s territorial waters to be paid war-risk bonuses. These waters are now classified as the world’s second most dangerous, after the Straits of Malacca. Concerned by the economic and political ramifications of being black-listed, President Yar’Adua gave the GGGF his wholehearted support. Indeed, on January 31, 2008, he and President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea called for the process of establishing the force to be sped up.
Originally a EUCOM initiative, the feasibility of es- tablishing a GGGF is now the concern of the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC), which is made up of rep- resentatives from the United States, the United King- dom (UK), and various countries that border the Gulf, although the final decision whether it will be created or not still rests with each country’s government. The main purpose of the GGGF will be to help these coun- tries protect their natural resources, the companies that exploit them, and the flow of oil onto the world mar- ket. If the force is created, the United States is likely to provide it with boats, radar, and communications equipment and help train the crews of the participat- ing African navies.
West African support for the proposal has been built up over the past few years. In October 2004, U.S. Naval Forces Europe (NAVEUR) hosted a Gulf of Guinea Maritime Security Conference in Naples at which representatives from 17 navies sought to iden- tify the main security challenges confronting them, as