Insecurity: NIMASA Embarks On Maritime Security Sensitisation Campaigns Through Abuja Global Maritme Security Forum

By Stephen Ubanna

 Arrangement have been concluded by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA,  to hold the two-day international Conference  on Global maritime security  holding in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT,  holding in Abuja, between October 7, 2019 and Wednesday, October 9, 2019.

 Note that for years the menace of piracy, armed sea robbery, terrorism  and maritime insecurity had remained a major scourge  in the Gulf of Guinea.The situation was so worrisome that when Dakuku Peterside was appointed the Director General of NIMASA, about four years ago, he took it upon himself to collaborate with other security agencies  to tackle the menace. The fallout was the internalisation of the agency its  first  ever  global maritime security Conference.

The Conference is which is expected to attract  eight Chiefs of  Naval Staff from 16 African countries including Ete-Ibas  Ekwe, a Vice Admiral and Nigerian Chief of Naval Staff, who had been supportive of the agency  to contain the activities of pirates on the country water ways  would throw more light on the management of global maritime security issues. The Chiefs of Naval Staff of the North American countries of the United States and Brazil including those from some European countries, were said to have given their words to send Representatives to the NIMASA organised international Maritime security Conference.

Given the popularity which the NIMASA organised international security Conference had gained  within and outside the country, may have encouraged the rush by foreigners involved in maritime activities  to signify their interest to participate in the three –day Conference. At the last count, it was learnt that over 500  foreigners    had signified their interest  while  2000 persons were  said to have registered  for it. The two Asian countries of Norway and Denmark were said to have also thrown their weight behind the Conference to make it a reality.

Security watchers believe that the  Global Maritime security Conference  would strike a balance between the developing countries  and the developed economies  to find a lasting solution  to the problems affecting global Commerce.  Given an insider information, Peterside, the NIMASA Director General, noted that ‘’90 percent of global Commerce are conducted  through the  seaborne trade’’, stressing that ‘’whatever affects global trade  has direct impact  on the development  and quality of living of the people of the African Continent and other parts of the world.

As a prelude to protecting the country’s waterways, over the  last two years,  it is to the credit  of Peterside, that NIMASA , under his close watch  has committed millions of dollars on the  country’s Deep Blue Project initiated with the support of Rotimi Amaechi, the minister of Transportation,FEE for the acquisition of security equipment.  These investments, according to the agency sources, would lead to the acquisition  of two special  mission aircrafts, two helicopters and unnamed air vehicles. This is in addition to two special anti-piracy vessels, and 17 interceptor patrol boats. It is also expected to add to its maritime security equipment 16 armoured vehicles to support the ground operations of its 340 ground  trained personnel. This is bad news for perpetrators of maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea as their days are numbered .

Recall that while appearing on the Nigerian Television Authority, recently, the NIMASA ,  boss  had said that the essence of the Global Maritime security Conference , was to make a bold Statement on’’how to deal with security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea’’.

Isechei Osamgbi, a Deputy Director and the agency Spokesperson, may have drawn the attention of participants to the Conference to its major Objectives when he said it was intended to ‘’define the precise nature  and coordinated  regional responses  to maritime security, evaluating  the relevance   of  the various external  interventions and moving towards policy harmonization and regional cooperation.  The NIMASA Spokesperson disclosed that participants would be exposed to the tactics on how to tackle  cyber security threats .

Dakuku Peterside: DG NIMASA

 Perhaps to ensure that the gathering in Abuja, would not be a wasted efforts, the NIMASA helmsman,  who has been described as the champion of regional maritime security expert  in the African Continent has advocated for ‘’deeper global  commitment to the deployment  of resources  for ending maritime insecurity  in the Gulf of Guinea in the shortest possible time’’.

He has also advocated the setting up of  a harmonized  National Standing Committee on  maritime security that would pursue  the country’s maritime capacity building to enhance the domestication  and operationalisation of  the legal frameworks  as well as  its continuous presence  at the sea to facilitate rapid response , Communication with distressed ships and their Crew members to achieve better  regional maritime  security  situation.

There is no gain saying the fact that  the absence  of legal framework  to prosecute  pirates  and armed sea robbers  has continued  to be  a major  setback   in  addressing the problem of insecurity  in the Gulf of Guinea axis.

Many believe that the NIMASA  total Spectrum  Maritime  Security Strategy , TSMSS,  which gives the agency the mandate to effectively engage  and Collaborate  with other neighbouring countries through information sharing on maritime security,  joint patrol and joint training initiatives  and peer  review, would  go a long way to douse the tension in the highly volatile Gulf of Guinea.

Over the years, Nigerian shippers  had been forced to pay  high Insurance premium because of the insecurity in the country’s waterways sailing to Nigerian ports by ocean going vessels. The situation was very frustrating as the shipping Companaies refused to risk their vessel by put it on the waterways leading to the nation’s eastern ports of Warri, delta state, Calabar, Cross River state , Onne and Port Harcourt Area, in Rivers state but that appear to be gradually giving way  in the recent time.

 This is because  of the security measures put in place by NIMASA in Collaboration with the country Navy  and Hajia Hadiza Bala Usman led Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA,   to make the country waterways safe which  had the insurance Companies to reduce  their premium charges to as low as possible to make affordable by the importers.

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