From left: Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar having a discussion with the Director-General,  Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA Dr. Bashir Jamoh during a recent working visit by the NIMASA DG to the Nigerian Air Force headquarters in Abuja.

Barring any last minute change in the scheme of things, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA in partnership with the Nigeria Air Force has concluded plans for the deployment of air security assets acquired under the Deep Blue Project also referred to as Integrated National Security and Waterways Infrastructure domiciled with the agency.

This is in tandem with Federal Government’s efforts at enhancing security not only within Nigeria’s maritime domain but also in and around the Gulf of Guinea region.

The Deep Blue Project (the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure), is a maritime security project, which aims to comprehensively tackle insecurity in Nigeria’s territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone EEZ, up to the Gulf of Guinea.

Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, announced this when the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, paid a working visit to the Nigerian Air Force headquarters in Abuja recently in Abuja.

The NIMASA DG had while speaking during the visit requested that adequate arrangement be put in place to receive and deploy the two special mission aircrafts expected to arrive the country in the next few months.

Dr. Jamoh, who commended the leadership of the Nigerian Air Force for its commitment to capacity development, noted that NIMASA was also committed to ensuring the success of the Deep Blue Project with adequate support and cooperation of all stakeholders.

“We have received two unmanned aerial vehicles UAV, and the two special mission aircrafts are expected to arrive Nigeria before the end of the year. The challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the special training for the personnel to man these air assets, but we have found a way around it. We will continue to seek your partnership to secure Nigeria’s maritime domain”, he said.

It was further gathered that a total of 17 fast interceptor boats, 15 armoured vehicles, and two special mission vessels were some of the land and marine assets that have already been received. He said all hands must be on deck to secure the country’s maritime environment and change all negative narratives.

In his response, Air Marshal Abubakar said the NAF had maintained a longstanding cordial relationship with NIMASA, with an MOU on Maritime Air Surveillance and Intelligence signed in 2013. According to him, though the MOU had elapsed, the NAF had continued to play a crucial role in maritime security, working closely with the Nigerian Navy, and NIMASA.

He also disclosed that NAF had recently established a Combat Reconnaissance Group (203 CRG) in Gombe State, primarily, to deal with the security challenges in the North-East and other parts of the North. He said the drones that would be deployed with the 203 CRG could be moved to any part of the country, including coastal locations, especially given the crucial place of the maritime environment to the survival of the country.

“Indeed, we are working towards establishing UAV wings in Lagos, Calabar, and Port Harcourt to support other security agencies in maintaining the security of the maritime environment,” he stated.

Abubakar assured the DG that Air Force would do everything in its power to partner with NIMASA on the Deep Blue Project, saying the Federal Government is doing everything humanly possible to secure Nigeria and Nigerians.