By Stephen Ubanna
Until his appointment over the last four years, Dakuku Peterside , Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, and Chairman, Association of African Maritime Administration, AAMA , may not have known anything about activities of pirates in Nigerian waterways. His appointment as the Director General of the Maritime Regulatory agency appears to have exposed him to the Criminal activities of the pirates in the nation’s waterways and the need to control them.
It was not surprising why he has embarked on capacity development for the agency in order to guarantee the nation’s maritime security , described as critical to its deep blue project implementation.
As a prelude to training the right personnel for the implementation of the Deep Blue project which was launched by Rotimi Amaechi, a former minister of Transportation about two years ago and who may likely be returned to the ministry in this President President Muhammadu Buhari second term in office, the agency had engaged the services of Homeland Security International Systems and Technologies Limited, an Israeli firm as Consultants for the training of the Surveillance officers, comprising of both the Army and Naval personnel at the controversial sum of 195 million. Stakeholders had shouted condemning the contract but that was how far they could go.
Unknown to them Peterside, who has the backing of the minister had developed a bold initiative for the takeoff of the implementation of the project. As a prelude to actualize the implementation the Deep Blue Project the first set of the military personnel who were said to have participated in the training programme organised by the Israeli firm had graduated . Stakeholders may have expected the agency to deploy the Suveillance graduates to the field to resume work but nothing was done.
Instead, it was quickly followed by a second batch of Surveillance officers to be trained at the Military base , Elele, Rivers state. The officers , according to Micky Gnash, a top official of the Consulting firm, were trained in on Combat related techniques ranging from physical fitness, sharp shooting , ability to use the arm from a range , bare hands fighting in open terrain, built up areas and in the bush to weapons handling.
The successful training of the Surveillance officers by may have given the NIMASA Director General hopes that pirates operating in the Nigerian water ways and the Gulf of Guinea are in trouble. His closeness to the officials of the HLSI officils throughout the duration of the training of the Surveillance officers on the various military courses speaks volume.
This time around, no fewer than 298 military personnel , mostly Naval officers , were said to have been graduated on the basic training Courses comprising of 110 ground soldiers and 188 Naval personnel. Given the importance of the training programme , Iseichei Osamgbbi, a Deputy Director in-charge of the agency Corporate Communication disclosed that the NIMASA boss sent Gambo Ahmed, the agency Executive Director, Maritime Labour nd Cabotage Service s to represent him at the graduation Ceremony of the of the officers at the Elele military base.
Peterside , who could not hide his feelings at the graduation of the officers , noted to the admiration of the military Officers and other Stakeholders present at the passing out parade of the new set of Surveillance officers that the ‘’capacity development component of the of the Deep Blue Project of his Administration is on course as the agency ‘’prepares to take over the land and the maritime infrastructure component ’’.
The NIMASA Helmsman disclosed that the land based prevention Force is expected to work closely with the agency Command and Control Center to’’ effectively police the country’s waterways in order to enhance the security of Captains and their Crew members sailing with their Ship through the Gulf of Guinea, described as a dangerous zone in maritime circles.
Given an insight into the vision of creating the critical intervention Force as obtained in other maritime nations, particular the industrialised societies, Ahmed, who represented the NIMASA Director General at the passing out parade of the Surveillance officers stressed that’’ it is for them to put into practice what they have learnt from the Military Training School on security and waterways protection in order to flush out the pirates giving ships sailing into the country or outside the country a cause to worry.
An elated Peterside had used the opportunity provided for the successful passing out of the second batch of the Surveillance officers to reassure Nigerians that the Deep Sea project , which was being implemented by the ministry of Transportation and the ministry of Defense ‘’, will curb criminality in the nation’s maritime domain.
‘’The present threats posed by the insecurity in the waterways and the need to support the economic renaissance of the nation informed the bi-ministerial collaboration of the ministries of Transportation and Defense under the Supervision of the Office of the National S security Adviser , NSA, to develop a’’ robust security architecture comprising the military and the other security agencies that would ensure a conducive and enduring maritime environment for the country’’, he had said.
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