L-R: Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside; Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi; Director, Maritime Safety, Federal Ministry of Transport, FMOT, Mr Paul Adalikwu; and the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman during a Press Conference on the progress of the DEEP BLUE PROJECT held in Lagos.
As part of efforts by the Federal Government to enhance the security of Nigeria’s waterways and part of the Gulf of Guinea , Nigerian has taken delivery of sophisticated assets , which include six armoured aircraft , six interceptor boats , a special mission vessel, the Personal Protective Gear (PPG) while the first unmanned aerial vehicle and another ship will arrive the country before the end of this month.
The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr Dakuku Peterside, who made this revelation said that 80 per cent of the assets required for the take-off of the Deep Blue Project, Nigeria’s total spectrum maritime security architecture, also known as the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, would have been deployed by June this year.
He said this, while corroborating the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi who briefed the media in Lagos yesterday, alongside all the heads of the agencies, under the ministry ahead of the launch of the project .
Giving a breakdown of the assets being installed under the Deep Blue Project, Dakuku revealed that a good number of the assets had arrived the country, including six interceptor boats and a special mission vessel, saying a second one will come in before the end of February.
The Director-General also disclosed that the first special mission aircraft will be in the country before the end of the first quarter of the year, while six armoured aircraft were already in the country, and the first unmanned aerial vehicle would come in before the end of February.
Dakuku stated, “We expect the first helicopter in the first quarter of this year. Almost all the communication gadgets are in the country as well as the Personal Protective Gear (PPG). The C4i centre is fully operational in Kirikiri, the NIMASA Research Centre. Those are the assets we have on ground.
“However, between now and June this year, over 80 per cent of the assets would be in the country and they would be manned by Nigerian military.”
Dakuku stated that the training aspect of the project had since commenced in phases. He said the first set of training for C4i operators and intelligence officers had been concluded. Basic infantry training for soldiers who would fight on land around the littoral areas has also been concluded and the soldiers awaiting deployment, according to him.
“These trainings would continue over time as we try to integrate the intelligence officers with the C4i and those operating the special mission vessels and aircraft,” Dakuku said.
Amaechi, who briefed the media after a high level security meeting with maritime stakeholders, had earlier said that the President Muhammadu Buhari government is determined to tackle maritime insecurity head-on.
He assured that the Deep Blue Project, when fully operational, would drastically reduce piracy and other crimes within Nigeria’s maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea.
The Minister stated, “Recall that we secured an approval from the Federal Executive Council to introduce a maritime security architecture, which is coming to fruition. We engaged the Homeland Security International (HLSI), who are only to provide training and equipment, while the Nigerian Navy would lead the Police, Nigerian Army and Department of State Services, among others that would run the equipment.”
He stated that the security of the maritime sector needs a more holistic approach, hence the need to involve other arms of the country’s security services to support the Nigerian Navy working with NIMASA.
The Minister also explained the government’s decision to end the secure anchorage project, a private security initiative run outside the country’s port system. He insisted that all ships coming into the country must anchor at the national ports under the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).