The Federal Government has flagged off the Integrated National Maritime Security and Waterways Protection Project otherwise known as the Deep Blue Asset as part of its commitment to tackle insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea.
President Buhari who performed the flag off of the project coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Transportation and Federal Ministry of Defence in Lagos yesterday, said it was initiated to foster maritime security architecture and ensure greater enforcement action on Nigerian waterways and beyond.
His words: ‘‘I am confident that the project, which provides a robust maritime security architecture, will enhance maritime domain awareness capability and improve law enforcement action, particularly in the prosecution of suspects under the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Act which I signed into law in June 2019″.
The President called for greater collaborations among countries in the Gulf of Guinea, saying, ‘‘With the world’s waters accounting for over 80% of transportation requirements of the global economy, concerted efforts and innovative actions are required to address attendant security challenges”.
‘The President affirmed: “This intervention, no doubt, will facilitate a conducive environment for the maritime sector to thrive and contribute to the diversification of the Nigerian economy”.
Buhari assured of government’s commitment to ensure the project’s sustainability, urging all critical stakeholders to work collectively for the greater benefit of all Nigerians, member states of the Gulf of Guinea and the global maritime community.
Speaking at the occasion, the Minster of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi commended the President for approving and supporting the Initiative, adding that it has laid a solid foundation for a robust maritime sector and paved way for a smooth transition of a post oil economy.
He further described it as critical in securing the nation’s water ways which hitherto was an unhindered field of operations for pirates.
The Minster also commended the Ministry of Defence for providing field personnel for the project.
Also Speaking, the Minister of Defence, Maj.Gen. Bashir Magashi (Rtd) said the project was a critical instrument to end insecurity in Nigerian maritime domain, noting that since the deployment in February 2021, there has been a gradual decline of crime in the county’s waters ways.
Earlier, the Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Bashir Jomoh informed that the Deep Blue Project has “2 special mission vessels, 3 special mission helicopters, 16 armored vehicles, 2 special mission aircrafts, 17 interceptor boats, 4 unmanned aerial drones among others.
Jamoh also disclosed that the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act is the first of its kind in the entire Gulf of Guinea and that it is fast becoming a model for other maritime nations, stating that under the law, the Agency has successfully prosecuted, convicted and sentenced about 10 offenders.
He further informed that the Command, Control, Communications Computers and Intelligence (C4I) Center which is highly equipped for data gathering, monitors the maritime domain real time, providing information to enhance field operations.
On his part, the Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Kitack Lim, commended the government of Nigeria for the initiative and urged proper use of the security assets to end piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
The President supervised the naming of two Vessels, Deep Blue Abuja (DB-Abuja) and Deep Blue Lagos (DB-Lagos) by the Minister of State, Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Ruqayyah Saraki.
The Governors, of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo – Olu, Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, Oyo Sate Governor, Seyi Mankinde, Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon . Femi Gbajabiamila, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Minister for works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, Minster for Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare, Minister of Sate Health, Adeleke Olorunnimbe Mamora, Minister of State, Ministry of Niger Delta, Tayo Alasoadura, Permanent Secretary, FMT, Dr. Magdalene Ajani and some Directors of the Ministry were among other dignitaries present at the event.
Director, Press & PR
June 11, 2021