By Shola Fadeyi
Dr Peterside, DG NIMASA
As part of measures to tackle maritime security challenges in the country, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency ,(NIMASA) Dr Dakuku Peterside, has said that the agency will continue to engage with all maritime stakeholders, as well as deal with the social and economic conditions that drive the problem of security.
The NIMASA Director General, made this pledge in a paper ,titled ‘’Government Approaches at Addressing Maritime Security Challenges in Nigeria’’ which he delivered at the 2019 World Maritime Day which held in Lagos .
Dr Peterside who also advocated for the setting up of an harmonized National Standing Committee on Maritime security ,said the Agency will pursue capacity building and capacity enhancement domestication , enhance operationalization of legal frameworks, continuous presence at sea and rapid response communication and collaboration with all actors to further achieve a better maritime security situation.
The NIMASA DG thus identified the instrument of inter-agency collaboration as harmonized standard operating procedure (HSOP), special naval operations, maritime guard command (MGC), capacity building for law enforcement officers , capacity building for judicial officers and ISPS Code enforcement as part of measures being taken by the Agency to combat martime insecurity.
Dr Peterside said that absence of legal framework to prosecute pirates and armed sea robbers has continued to be a major setback in addressing insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea area.
He stated that sequel to the concerted efforts by the Nigerian Government with NIMASA as lead agency, the ‘suppression of piracy and other maritime offences bill’ ,which provides for a legal framework to fight piracy and create more conducive maritime environment, was signed into law, adding that , its implementation will bring to bear, appropriate sanctions on offenders and deter perpetrators of maritime crimes.
The NIMASA DG stated that due to the fact maritime security is an international responsibility, there is a need to work with others to secure the seas.
He said this is why , NIMASA Total Sprecrum Maritime Security Strategy(TSMSS) envisages that the agency will effectively engage and collaborate with friendly neigbouring countries through information sharing, joint patrol,joint training initiatives and peer review.
According to him, Nigeria is at the forefront of pushing for continental and regional initiatives that established co-operative frameworks.
Dr Peterside disclosed that, to operationalize the TSMSS, the Federal Executive Council(FEC) on the presentation of FMOT approved the Deep Blue Project , which objectives include prevention of illegal activity in the Nigerian EEZ,Enforcement of maritime regulations,Enhancing the safety of lives at sea,Prevention of illegal activities in the Niger Delta area at sea and the inland waterways.
He said the key components of the Deep Blue Project include ,alignment with the TSMSS facility – technology driven,command and control center (C4i),equipment and patrolling assets process – capacity building for personnel/intervention teams.
The NIMASA DG stated that the agency is also tackling the issue of maritime insecurity through intelligence gathering and coordination, maritime patrol assets- special mission vessels,air patrolling assets- special mission aircraft, land patrolling assets- 16 armourded vehicles and 340 intervention teams and various training initiatives.
According to him, the end results of the NIMASA coordinatd solutions to issue of maritime security have been low payment of insurance premium due to the fact that the maritime territory will be relatively safe and free of criminal activities.
He also identified increase in utilization of coastal and Inland waterways for transportation as well as increase in maritime shipping and other economic activities as part of the aftermath of the agency’s efforts to stem maritime insecurity.