By Stephen Ubanna
Barely two months after Kang Haengu, Consul General of the Asia country of Korea Embassy in Nigeria and Daniel Bertrand, the Ambassador designate of Belgium to Nigeria promised to support, Nigeria’s efforts to improve the security and safety in the country’s maritime domain and the Gulf Of Guinea, Korea Consul General had kept to his words.
. The duo had made the promise during a courtesy call on Bashir Jamoh, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA. Kang,the Korea Embassy Consul General who may have been encouraged by the efforts being put in by the Jamoh led Management Team of the maritime regulatory agency to contain the activities of Pirates and sea robbers in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea, GoG, may have taken up the matter with his home government with the backing of the Ambassador, Kin –Young Che.
The Report of the Ambassador was said to have corroborated the business report, of the Consul General to the home government on the Nigeria’s maritime sector and the efforts of the Nigerian government to ensure the security and safety of ocean- going vessels in the nation’s maritime waters and the GoG.
The Korea, Consul General, had reportedly said that there are lots of potentials in Nigerian maritime sector which his home country many investors could easily tap into to their own gain. He was said sold the idea to support Nigerian maritime security and safety efforts to Noh Hyeong-Ouk the country’s minister of ministry of Industry, Infrastructure and Transport and who in turn was said to have taken it up the matter with President Moo Jae-in, who cued into it as a way to enhance the exiting bilateral trade relationship between the two countries.
Recall that with the support of the Nigerian Navy which is overseeing and operating the multi-billion dollar, Deep Blue Project, water assets which include 16 armoured vehicles for coastal Patrol, 17 Fast Interceptor Boats and two Special Mission Vessels, and the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, under the close watch of Olayinka Oladayo Amao, an Air Marshall, which controls and operates the two Special Mission aircrafts for Surveillance operations, three Special Mission Helicopters used for Search and Rescue Operations and additional four armoured vehicles, had taken the battle to the Pirates Camps. The fallout was that many of the Pirates and sea robbers who could no longer bear the heat from NIMASA and the Naval Personnel, had relocated to Countries in the West and Central African sub-regions, particular, Gahana and Gabon.
Kitact Lim, the Secretary General of the United Nations Maritime Agency, International Maritime Organisation, IMO, and International Maritime Bureau, IMB, had regnised the Nigeria’s maritime security and safety efforts in the recent tine. Many believe that the NIMASA Director General may have won the heart of the Korea Embassy officials and the European country of Belgium because his religious implementation of his three –point agenda: maritime security, maritime safety and shipping development, which are yielding results.
It was therefore, not very surprising why the Korea government had hastened efforts to sign a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, of Cooperation in the area of, maritime security and maritime safety, with the Nigerian government to prepare the ground for its investors to enter into the nation’s maritime industry to tap on the huge investment opportunities.Note that; ‘’the MoU, covers capacity building, information sharing, search and rescue , Liaison and establishment of hotlines for direct Communication between NIMASA and the South Korea Coast Guards at all times’’.
Given that the area of Cooperation between the two countries fall on maritime sector, may have encouraged President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General, to allow Jamoh, the NIMASA, Director General, who is wearing the shoes and knows where it pinches, to sign the MoU, on behalf of the Nigerian government while Seonggi Kang,the Director , International Affairs and Intelligence Bureau, Korea Coast Guard, signed on behalf of the South Korea government.
The MoU , according to informed sources provides a ‘framework for NIMASA and the Korea Coast Guard to develop, Coordinate and monitor the implementation of maritime security and safety between the Organsisations’’, meaning more troubles for Pirates and sea robbers operating in Nigeria waters and the GoG.
An elated Jamoh had said that the MoU will be ‘’implemented to the best interests of the two countries’’. The NIMASA, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, who could not hide his feelings may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians when he assured that ‘’it will ultimately enhance the safety and security of ocean-going vessels in Nigerian maritime waters and the GoG’’.
Going down the memory lane, the NIMASA boss had said that the relationship between Nigeria and South Korea spans over many decades, noting that the current MoU, that had just been signed started with a’’ Statement of intent in 2018’’, during the Administration of Dakuku Peterside, the then Director General. He noted that the MoU, was designed ‘’to enforce the commitment of the two countries to grow bilateral trade through the maritime sector’’.
He may have taken advantage of the signing of the MoU, to speak on the emergence of Nigeria’s Paul Adalikwu as the newly elected Secretary General of the Maritime Organsisation For West and Central Africa, MOWCA, describing it as ‘’another testimony of the trust the International Community now bestow on Nigeria’s Leadership role in the African Continental maritime sector’’.
The event may have provided also another good opportunity for the NIMASA helmsman who has been on the road over the last couple of months to drum the support of friendly nations ‘’to support Nigeria’s bid to return to the United Nations, UN, Maritime Agency, International Maritime Organisation, IMO, Category C, to be at his best on International diplomacy. Without sounding immodest, he had urged the Asian country to support Nigeria to return to the Council. The election is slated for the first week of December 2021.
He may have made Kang, the Korea, Director of Coast Guards to understand that ‘’Nigeria remains the Leading maritime nation in the West and central African sub regions and now seeking election into the Council in Category C at the IMO. ‘’We trust that you will convey Nigeria’s message to your home government on the need ‘’to support Nigeria’’, Jamoh remarked.
In apparent response, the South Korea, Coast Guard Director, as he had ‘’commended the Nigerian government over its commitment to the growth of its maritime industry’’. The Statement carries weight, according to maritime analysts carries weight and clearly shows that the Asia country will eventually support to return to the IMO Category C, this time around.
The South Korea Coast Guard, Director, had expressed his optimism that with the signing of the MoU of Cooporation, between the two countries, from the African and Asian Continent, ‘’it will go a long way in addressing some of the issues in Nigeria maritime domain that had defiled solutions over the years. He noted that ‘’there are a lot of concerns at the GoG, citing ‘’piracy and illegal fishing that needed to be resolved once and for for all’’
The Nigeria and Korea , MOU, maritime security and safety Cooperation may be for an initial period of five years, and will be automatically renewed for another five years. However, the reason why it may not be renewed as at when do, according to a source, will be ‘’if either of the participant withdraws six months before the expiration , of this initial first five years of the MoU.