February 3, 2023

Maritime Today Online

latest news and events in maritime and shipping

Buhari commissions $195m maritime security architecture to tackle piracy 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday launched the long-awaited $195 million maritime security architecture under the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, otherwise called the Deep Blue project.
The project aims at tackling piracy, sea robbery, kidnapping and other maritime related crimes in the nation’s territorial waters and the larger Gulf of Guinea, which covers countries in Benin, Ghana, Togo, Sao Tome and Principe, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Angola.
Speaking at the commissioning of the maritime assets at the Lagos Port Complex, Apapa, Buhari said the project will serve as a benchmark for countries in the Gulf of Guinea.
He said the acquisition of the maritime assets is coming at a time when the global attention is on piracy in the Gulf of Guinea adding that the project would ensure greater enforcement within the Nigerian waters and facilitate a conducive environment for maritime business to thrive in the diversification agenda of the Federal Government.
“This flag-off is an important step in the continuing shift in strategic action about regional maritime security. It will serve as a benchmark for member states in the gulf of guinea and other relevant stakeholders to further develop innovative strategies and align efforts with the subsisting framework to improve maritime security in the region.
“These assemblage of maritime security assets is coming at a critical time when global discussions are centered on piracy activities and the new dimensions it has taken in the gulf of Guinea region.
“The flag off of the deep blue project marks an important milestone in our collective efforts to tackle security challenges in the form of piracy and maritime crimes in Nigeria and the gulf of Guinea,” he said.
Buhari, while assuring of sustainability of the project, urged the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and its member states to support the project in ensuring safety of the seafarers.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi said the project was a dream come true, because he faced several opposition in the course of acquiring the assets.
According to him, some Nigeria elites are benefiting from the insecurity in the nation’s waters, hence the opposition against him.
“I lay claim to this project. It was my project. It was my entire idea. As a Governor in the South South, they were killing and maiming people in the water every day and I knew it shouldn’t continue. So the day you appointed me as minister for transportation in charge of maritime, I knew that i had to do something very important to find solution to that.
“Just because of this project, three committees were set up against me. One led by Vice President, one led by Minister of Defence and then the EFCC. The accusation was that this is Amaechi’s contract but Mr President, I don’t do contract.  The reason why they did it was because most Nigerian elites are not patriotic. They were making billions of money in insecurity so for anybody who wants to fight insecurity they will fight the person but I was determined,” he said.
Amaechi said the facilities, which comprises of four components – marine assets;aerial assets; land assets and the Command Control Computer Communication intelligence (C4i) are huge in cost and very sensitive assets, hence must be properly serviced and maintained.
On his part, Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Bashir Jamoh described the deep blue project as “mission accomplished”.
He said the project was aimed at ensuring safer waterways so that businesses can thrive and ultimately boost the national economy.
He applauded President Buhari for signing the Anti-Piracy bill into law, saying it has convicted about 10 offenders for the first time, under the law.
According to him, pirate attacks have reduced from mid-February this year, urging the shipping companies to review the war risk insurance to Nigeria.
He said NIMASA is working closely with international community to curtail criminality in the nation’s exclusive economic zone.