Maritime: Vice Admiral Gambo Moves To Strengthen NIMASA, Anti-Piracy Operations

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.

Jamoh,OFR, DG, NIMASA, Presenting A Sournir To Rear Admiral Egbuchulam

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’’.  

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