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 .
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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