By Stephen Ubanna
Barely two weeks after former President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, vacated office to pave way for the incoming President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who incidentally was an ex- governor of Lagos state to assume office, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, Chief of Naval Staff, CNS, moves to strengthen the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, under the close watch of Bashir Jamoh, OFR, anti-piracy operations.
Vice Admiral Gambo, led Nigeria Navy, at present operates and maintains the 17 Interceptor boats,16 armoured vehicles for coastal patrols, and two Special mission Vessels, while Air Marshall Oladayo Amao, led Nigerian AirFoce, operates and Maintains two special mission aircrafts, for surveillance of Nigerian Exclusive Zone, EEZ, three special mission helicopters for search and rescue operations and four unmanned aerial vehicles procured by the former Buhari’s Administration at the cost of $195 million for the agency for the deep Blue Project.
Given the Collaboration between the Jamoh led maritime regulatory agency and the Nigerian Navy may have informed why the Naval Authorities have approved the appointment of Rear Admiral PE.Effah as the new Co-Chair of the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum Shared Awareness and Confliction, GOG-MCF SHADE, to replace Admiral K.IO.Egbuchulan to further strengthen the agency anti- piracy war.
There is no gain saying that the fact that Nigeria and 22 other countries of the Younde Code of Conduct ,YCC, had established the Collaboration Forum in July 2021.Accoring to Osagie Edward, an Assistant Director and NIMASA, spokesperson, ‘’the goal of the Forum is to implement effective operational counter-piracy cooperation amongst regional and international Navies as well as the shipping industry and reporting centres of the Yaounde Code of Conduct , for a Regional Strategy for Maritime Safety and Security in West and Central African sub-region’’.
The NIMASA, spokesperson , had said that the decision to replace Rear Admiral Egbuchulan as the Co-Chairman of the GOG-MCF SHADE, has been conveyed to the Jamoh, led NIMASA, Management team . In making the change in the GoG MCF shade,Forum, Vice Admiral Gambo, had said that ‘’it is in continuation of efforts to sustain collaboration with NIMASA, and improve the security architecture in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea’’.
Until Rear Admiral Egbuchulam , withdrawal to the Naval Headquarters in Lagos , by the Authorities, Jamoh, Director General, of NIMASA, has told those that cares to listen that ‘’there have not been any recorded piracy case in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea since 2022 till date. He is right.
Going by the agency records, Nigeria had recorded 82 cases of piracy in 2018, and 61, in 2019 prior to the appointment of Jamoh, by the former Katsina state born Nigerian President on March 10, 2020, as the NIMASA, Chief Executive Officer, CEO.It was said to have dropped to 34 cases in 2021 and zero level in 2022 and the first quarter of 2023.
Many believe that the agency could achieve that much because the NIMASA,helmsman, and his Management team has, taken advantage of the $195 million maritime security equipment, deployed to the Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea to drive out the pirates and sea thieves harassing the Crew of the oceangoing vessels laden with cargoes.
Indeed, the agency Collaboration with the Vice Admiral Gambo led Nigerian Navy and the subsequent drop in Piracy cases in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea, to about 80% over the last two years may have informed why he International Maritime Bureau, IMB, has removed Nigeria’s name from the world piracy list, thus deepening its maritime trade with other nations across the world. The former Nigerian President, had broken the cheery news at the 2023 Presidential Fleet Review held in Lagos, by the Navy.
The former Nigerian President was said to be very categorical in his remarks that in March 2022, the IMB, had delisted Nigeria from the list of piracy prone countries’’. He may have alluded to the efforts of the Nigerian Naval personnel in in collaboration with NIMASA, in containing the activities of the Pirates and sea thieves when he said that ‘’the application of technology to secure the nation’s maritime domain has supported by intelligence –driven deployment of ships.
Indeed, given Vice Admiral Gambo, led Nigerian Navy improved Collaboration with NIMASA, in its anti-piracy war, may have encouraged Jamoh, theNIMASA, Director General to repeatedly beat his chest that when’’ it comes to maritime security in Nigeria waters and the Gulf of Guinea as at today, the safety and well-being of seafarers rank the best than any other country in the west and Central African sub-regions.
Jamoh, described as a ‘’thorough bred professional and workaholic’’ in maritime circles, may have used the opportunity of the introduction and takeover of Rear Admiral Effah, from Rear Admiral Egbuchulam, as the new Co-Chairman of the GoG –MCF SHADE,to speak out. An action packed Jamoh was said to have reiterated’’ the importance of collaboration between the various maritime -related security agencies in sustaining the efforts and gains of the fight against piracy and all forms of insecurity in the Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea’’.
He was said to have also said to the hearing of the newly appointed, Naval Co-Chairman of the GoG MCF SHADE forum that that the agency and the Navy will continue ‘’to deepen collaboration with other International partners to ensure security of the Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea is guaranteed’’.
Rear Admiral Egbuchulam , who could not hide his feelings had expressed his gratitude to Vice Admiral Gambo, the naval Chief for the opportunity given to him, ‘’to serve alongside other navies in the region’’, which has led’’ to the relative peace in the countries within the SHADE Gulf of Guinea’’.
He was said to have assured the NIMASA, CEO, that there was nothing to worry about his withdrawal the Headquarters, noting that Rear Admiral is a very ‘’competent officer and well qualified for the job’’.
Rer Admiral Effah, who is the Director, Maritime Domain Awareness at the Naval Headquartes ,may have gladdened the heart of Jamoh and his management team, when he pledged ‘’to hit the ground running in his new ole’’ while also’’seeking more cooperation from the relevant stakeholders towards he realization of a robust and friendly maritime domain’’.