By Stephen Ubanna
Those who think that the $195 million, Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, popular, Deep Project security , assets , would be a money guzzler would be disappointed
This is because the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, under the close watch of Bashir Jamoh, have the required manpower to maintain and service the multi-million dollar security assets ‘’to serve their purpose of providing security’’ for ocean –going vessels in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea, which has been described as the hotbed of Piracy in the world.
. The security assets comprises of 16 armoured vessels for coastal Patrol, two Special Mission Vessels, 17 interceptor boats, two Special Mission aircrafts, for Surveillance of Nigeria’s Exclusive Economic Zone, EEZ, three Special Mission helicopters for Search and Rescue, S&R, and four unmanned Aerial Vehicles were supplied to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, by the Israeli Firm, HLS International Systems and Technologies Limited between 2019 and 2021.
Jamoh, the NIMASA, Director general, may have alluded to the fact that ‘’the Challenge is not about the deployment of the assets for Operations but about its maintenance and sustaining the tempo of the project that it can outlive the present generations and continue to be of benefit to future generations’’.
Informed sources told The Value News from the onset Jamoh, the NIMASA, boss may has known the task ahead of the agency with the establishment of the Deep Blue Project is very enormous which could not be handled alone by the agency but to carry long other military and para-military agencies in order to make it a huge success.This may have informed why he initiated the inter-agency Collaboration in a bid to protect Nigerian’s maritime domain.
The assurance from the military and Para-military Chiefs visited may have emboldened Jamoh, the NIMASA boss, to restate the agency’s Commitment ‘’ to effective Management of the assets’’. It is not surprising why Maritime analysts are optimistic that story of the maritime security assets would not be like the N50 billion floating dock procured from the World ‘s largest ship building firms, Damen and their partners NIRDA, in Amsterdam, both in Ntherlands, which has turned out to be a money guzzler since it was delivered to the agency by the ship builders in 2018.
An insider told The Value News that it cost about N3.6 million on a daily basis and over a N100 million on a monthly to effectively maintain and keep the modular floating Dockyard running. As a prelude to ensure that the security assets, both the Land, Sea and Air, would not eat deep into the purse of the agency may have aligned with the Military in the training of the personnel to pilot and maintain the equipment.
On Friday, August 13, 2021, 43 officers and men of the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, who had been trained on how to handle the air assets under the Deep Blue Project were awarded their Certificates at the Air Force Base Hanger 301, Heavy Lift Group, Ikeja, Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve centre in the presence of top Air Force personnel and the NIMASA officials.
Some of the trained NAF personnel, according to Edward Osagie, an Assistant Director, in NIMASA, Public Relations , Department, who received their Certificates were given special trainings as Pilots and Copilots for the Special Mission aircraft for Surveillance operations in Nigerian, EEZ, Special Mission Specific Equipment Operators, Special Mission , aircraft maintenance Technicians, Operators for the unmanned aerial systems while others received training on the operation of the Command, Control, Communication , Computer and Intelligence , C4i, for the effective Platform manning.
The successful training of the 43 NAF personnel, may have informed why the NIMASA boss, expressed his Appreciation to the Isiaka Oladayo Amao, an Air Marshal and Chief of Air Staff, COAS, for their Commitment to the multi-million Deep Blue Project , with particular reference ‘’to providing the facilities for in the country training of the Pilots and officers to complete the training module having successfully completed the technical component abroad.
Giving an insider information on the project, an elated Jamoh disclosed that’’ the progress made so far has been very encouraging’’ , stressing that ‘’ intelligence gathering within the nation’s maritime domain has reached great heights with the recent video evidence of improper ballast water discharge in the nation’s waters’’ by an undisclosed shipping line , vessel.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the Nigerian Maritime Regulatory agency multi-million dollar, assets is the first of its kind in the West and Central African Sub-region. This may have emboldened Jamoh and his Management Team’’,to do so many things at a time for the first time as a Civilian agency of government and working closely with the security agencies to ensure a success of the project.
Note that at the graduation and presentation of Certificates to the NAF, 43 trained officers on various fields of aircraft management, The NIMASA, Chief Executive officer, CEO, had told the Representative of the Air Force Chief, JMD. Gwani, an Air Vice Marshall , who incidentally is the Chief of Trainings and Operations and P.P. Obeya, an Air Commodore and Commander, 301, HAG, that the agency ‘’Commitment to the Deep Blue Project is unflinching’’.
An Appreciative Air Marshal Amao who could not hide his feelings may have gladdened the heart of Jamoh, the NIMASA, helmsman, when he disclosed that that the Deep Blue Project has ‘’strategically repositioned the Air Force to provide an investment friendly environment through provision of adequate security in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea’’.
An eyewitness account had told The Value News that Jamoh ,had left the NAF, Base Hanger 301, heavy Lift Group , a fulfilled man that he has found an answer to the Crewing and maintenance of the Special Mission aircrafts for Surveillance operations at the Nigerian EEZ, which many believe would be at a minimal cost of maintenance to the agency.
The smiles on the face of Jamoh, the NIMASA , CEO, and the other dignitaries during the presentation of the Certificates to the 43 Nigerian Air Force Graduands,while taking pictures speaks volume. ‘’It is a done deal’’, Jamoh’s body language seems to have told the NAF, top shots at the Ceremony and a message to the sea thieves and Pirates operating in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea that is no longer going to be business as usual.
The Presentation of Certificates to the 43 NAF personnel is coming on the heels of the recent presentation of Certificates to 30 other officers who have been trained in Egypt and other parts of the world on how to Crew the Special Mission vessels, described as he main Component of the project. The Crew of the Special Mission Vessels were said to have been given Specialised training like those of the Air Force and terrain familarisation courses after the initial technical training abroad.
Recall that the Israeli firm, HLS International Security Systems and Technologies Limited , which had won the $195 million contract to supply the maritime security assets to NIMASA, for the Deep Blue Project had another package in the deal, to train the security personnel that would man the maritime security equipment. Anthony Ogadi, Coordinator of the Deep Blue Project and Director , Planning, Research and Data Management, had said that Crew of the Special Mission Vessels had nine Foreign and 10, local trainings n various Platforms of the Project under the Supervision of the Israeli firm, HLS.
Note that Israeli firm, which had won the Deep Blue Project contract, had trained 600 officers to Compliment the officers drawn from the military, Department of State Security, DSS, Nigerian Police Force, NPF, and the Nigerian Civil Defence Commission, NCDC, who were said to have been trained locally.