FG’s Deep Blue Project will end maritime insecurity in Nigeria-Minister ..As NIMASA, Military graduate Joint Surveillance Intelligence Officers
BY FRANCIS EZEM
Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, has assured that the Federal Government is determined to rid Nigeria’s territorial waters of criminalities through the effective implementation of its Integrated Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure scheme, otherwise known as the Deep Blue Project.
The Minister, who gave the assurance Thursday, last week in Lagos during the graduation ceremony for participants of the C4I Intelligence System Operator Course for the Deep Blue Project, said that the government is leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to address the maritime security challenges in the country. In attendance at the event were top echelon of the Nigerian Armed Forces, led by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, who was represented by Rear Admiral A. Akinrinade.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA and the nation’s military in conjunction with other security agencies have graduated over 22 officers under the C4I Intelligence System Operator Course for the Deep Blue Project, which is in tandem with their commitment towards ensuring maritime security not only in the country but also in the Gulf of Guinea.
Amaechi stated that the 853km long Nigeria coastlines and the country’s location in the Gulf of Guinea made it strategic for both maritime activities and security issues.
According to the minister, who was represented by the Director, Maritime Safety and Security, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Engr. Dajuma Dauda, “The length of our coastline, our exclusive economic zone, as well as our strategic location on a major shipping route, which is the Gulf of Guinea, means that we cannot afford illegalities, such as piracy, oil theft, sea robbery, and other crimes.
“The Deep Blue Project is a conscious effort towards addressing illegality in our territorial waters and, indeed, the Gulf of Guinea.”
Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, while speaking at the event, said the Deep Blue Project would drastically reduce criminalities in the Gulf of Guinea. According to him, the project is multifaceted, as it involves the training of select officers from the various security services, NIMASA and the acquisition of assets to combat maritime crimes on the nation’s waters.
“The Deep Blue Project is a multipronged approach towards tackling insecurity in our territorial waters and the entire Gulf of Guinea. What we are doing is fulfilling the training aspect of the project and this will also be complemented by acquisition of assets, such as fast intervention vessels, surveillance aircraft, and other facilities, including a command and control centre for data collection and information sharing that will aid our goals of targeted enforcement.
“The project is geared towards building a formidable integrated surveillance and security architecture that will comprehensively combat maritime crime and criminalities in Nigeria’s waterways up to the Gulf of Guinea”, the DG also stated
It was however gathered that NIMASA in collaboration with the National Assembly is taking steps towards ensuring that the Antipiracy Bill was passed as soon as possible. The agency is also involved in both regional and domestic collaborations to ensure that maritime crimes in the country’s waterways were reduced to a bare minimum, if not completely eliminated.
In his remarks, the best graduating student among the 21 course participants, Abdul Razaq Lawal Mohammed, said the course exposed participants to security challenges being faced in the Gulf of Guinea region and the possible solutions. He promised to bring his experience to bear in efforts to make the Nigerian maritime space safe for investment.
A high point of the event was the presentation of certificates to the successful participants by the GOC 9th Mechanised Division, Major Gen M. S. Yusuf, who represented the Chief of Army Staff; while Air Commodore S. O. Shobande and Rear Admiral M. A. Eno represented the Chief of Air Staff and the Chief of Naval Staff respectively. Also at the event was the AIG, Marine, Abdul Dahir Danwanu; and Mr. Ado Ibrahim, who represented the Department of State Security Service DSS, among others.
Participants at the four-week training programme were drawn from the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force, Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Police, DSS, and NIMASA. The project provides for both land and air based surveillance capabilities with command and control centres located across the country for data gathering and information sharing.
Recall that NIMASA had earlier in the year graduated 24 C4i system operators and also, recently, 300 officers of the Nigerian Army who were trained on the Basic Infantry Course, all under the Deep Blue Project. The Intelligence System Operator Course, with 21 graduates, is an aspect of the training that focuses on intelligence, data gathering, and information sharing towards a targeted enforcement approach.