The Federal Government has started deploying maritime security assets acquired under the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure (INSWPI) as part of efforts to tackle maritime theft and piracy. Already, members of the Deep Blue Project Steering Committee have visited Lagos, Warri, Benin and Onne to inspect the assets at the various locations.
The key components of the Deep Blue Projects, according to the Head, Corporate Communications of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Philip Kyanet, are air, maritime and land assets; Command, Control, Communication, Computers and Intelligence (C4i) Operation Centre and the training programme. Kyanet explained that the C4i Centre had been up and running since last year, while over 80 per cent of the assets have been delivered and were ready for deployment.
He listed other assets to include helicopters, interceptor boats, unmanned aerial vehicles, special mission aircraft, special mission vessels, and armoured vehicles, which would be operated by a standby intervention team and linked to the C4i Centre.
The centre would also be integrated with the Maritime Intelligence System and the Nigerian Navy’s Falcon Eye for real time monitoring and reporting of activities within the country’s maritime space.
Meanwhile a delegation led by Minister of Defence, Maj-Gen. Bashir Salihi Magashi (rtd), Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas, Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Bashir Jamoh, and other members of the presidential committee were on the inspection tour to confirm the readiness of the maritime assets for deployment. The committee members said that they were optimistic about the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, also called the Deep Blue Project.
The committee held that from what was on the ground, the project would deliver the national expectation of safety and security in Nigeria’s waters and the Gulf of Guinea. Also, Magashi, who is also Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Deep Blue Project, expressed satisfaction with the level of preparedness for the launch of the assets.
He assured of Federal Government’s determination to continue to improve security in the country, saying that the specifications of the latest intelligence and military hardware given to the contractors of the security project would be met. The Director-General of NIMASA, where the Deep Blue Project is domiciled, described the planned assets deployment as the beginning of a new dawn for the Nigerian maritime industry.
Jamoh stated: “We have come a long way in the achievement of this dream, the dream of staying ahead of the machinations of criminals bent on thwarting our yearning for maximum benefits from the rich maritime resources nature has endowed us with.
The defence minister added that sea piracy was already being tackled by our naval men, whose responsibility is to protect our waterways and they are doing a good job. He added: “The Gulf of Guinea is so vast; it involves many countries, with crimes being committed by citizens of these countries. But with the acquisition of these security equipment, we should be able to observe, detect and solve the problem of sea piracy.
“The navy is already containing the situation. Before now, sea piracy was high, but it has reduced to a situation where I can say we are in control. The implementation of this project will further help in this direction.”