The Value News

NIMASA Concludes Arrangements For Launching Of The Deep Blue Project In Lagos By Buhari

By Stephen Ubanna

 For weeks , there  had been rumours making the rounds that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA,  under the close watch of Bashir Jamoh,  have concluded  arrangements for the official Launching of the $195 million, Integrated National Security and Water Ways Protection Infrastructure, popular,  Deep Blue Project, assets, preparatory for deployment into Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Gunea for operations to contain the activities of Pirates and sea robbers.

 The multi-million dollar project was said to have been initiated by the  Federal  ministries of Transport and Defence  in 2017 but implemented  by NIMASA. The Project which is expected to be Launched  by President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General in Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve center on Thursday, June 10, 2021,  main objective , according to Jamoh, the NIMASA, Directo General, ‘’is to protect Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea’’. Given an insider information of the project, he disclosed that’’ it  has three  categories of  Platforms to tackle maritime insecurity on Land, water and air’’ . The Land assets , he said include the Command, Control, Communication and Intelligence Centre,C4i, for Intelligence gathering and data collection.

Jamoh” DG, NIMASA

  Dakuku Peterside, a former Director General of the agency, may have given hope for the execution of the project without failing  with the development of C4i and taken delivery the first  set of the maritime assets  from HLSI Systems and Technologies  Limited, the Israeli Firm which had won the contract before the expiration of his first four years in office, which was not renewed by the Katsina state born Nigerian President.

 . The Project which was however, inherited by Jamoh,  a one-time Executive Director, Finance And Administration, of the agency, during Dakuku’s Administration on Mach 10, 2020 and who knew much about the Project and the progress of work done was said to have to have sustained the tempo .  

 The rumour to Launch the Deep Blue project assets by the Nigerian President became  more pronounced  last May when the Maritime Regulatory  agency took delivery  of the first  of the two  Cesna  Citation  CJ3,  maritime Surveillance Aircraft, from  the Israeli  Firm, which had the $195 contract to supply the maritime assets for the Project.

  Recall that in taking delivery of the Surveillance Aircraft at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, Ikeja, Lagos , Jamoh, the NIMASA, Director General,  had described it as’’ the final phase  and installation of the  assets under the Deep Blue project,  to police the  Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea and secure it from the activities of Pirates and sea robbers’’.

NIMASA Procured Surveillance Aircraft For Deep Blue Project Air Operations

The assets that were said to have been delivered  to agency by the Israel firm  between last year and now which are  expected to be  Launched by the Nigerian President  on Thursday, June 10, 2021,   included  two Special  Mission vessels, and 16 Fast  Interceptor boats for sea operations. This is in addition to the Air Assets which comprises of two Special Mission Aircraft  for Surveillance  of the counry’s  Exclusive Economic zone and three Special Mission Helicopters for Search and Rescue Operations and four umanned  Aerial vehicles.

Maritime analysts believe that the  deployment of the maritime assets for operations   after the Thursday, June 10, 2021,  Launching of the Project  by the retired Army General,  ‘’will go a long way to reduce  the ship owners’ reliance  on private security Companies  to protect  them’’   in the sea,  off the coast of Nigeria. At present  the ships supporting Companies  coming  to Nigeria with Tankers to lift Crude Oil  and cargo vessels are said to be approximately   200 privately owned  escort vessels, including those owned by the Nigerian Navy  at  a cost  of between $8,000 and $10,000 per day,  Amaechi, the minister of Transport had said.

As a prelude to the planned  Launching of the Multi-million dollar, Deep Blue Project,  Philip Kaynet, a Deputy Director, Corporate Communications, NIMASA, who had issued a Statement,  had said  that ‘’preparatory  to the Launch of the Project, the Maritime Security Unit, , MSU,  comprising of  personnel   from the Nigerian Navy, Army ,Air Force, Police, and the Department of State Services, DSS, are conducting ‘’simulation exercises for the all- important  event, on Land, air and the sea to confirm their  readiness for deployment for operations in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea’’. The NIMASA, spokesperson disclosed that ‘’the various military Formations in the south west geopolitical region are already aware of such an exercise’’.

Deep Blue Project Special Mission Vessel, ready For Deployment For Operations

Appealing  to the general public to be Calm  while the exercise is on-going, particular, those  living in the   Coastal Communities of the region ,  he disclosed  that the exercise  ‘’is only meant  to test  the readiness of the  maritime security assets for operations.’’. The 600 specially trained troops by the Israeli security firm for interdiction, popular, MSU,  are said to be on high spirit.

   Prior to the decision to invite Buhari, to Launch the Deep Blue Project, the Presidential Committee   comprising of   Amaechi, a the minister of Transport, Bashir Magashi, a retired Major General and minister of Defence, Ibok –Ete Ibas, a retired Vice Admiral and a former Chief of Naval Staff, CNS,  a position now occupied  by Zubairu Gambo, a Vice Admiral,  and officials of NIMASA, including Jamoh, the Director General, had inspected the maritime assets stored  at the various Locations in Lagos, Warri and other south- south geopolitical region locations.

Informed sources told The Value News, that the pressure that was mounted on the HLSI and Technologies Limited, by NIMASA under the present Management   may have forced the Israeli Firm which had won the contract to supply the maritime assets to do so, to forestall shifting the gold post for the deployment of the equipment for operations in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea.

An elated Jamoh , had said that  ‘’the deployment  of the assets  for operations was a clear indication that ‘’the Project has entered another level of national security designed for  total  spectrum  of maritime security and better domain awareness using some  of the latest maritime technology’’.

There is no gain saying the fact that with the planned lLaunching of the maritime assets by  Buhari, Commander In-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forcers, and subsequent  deployment for operations in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea, Pirates, who  have been harassing ocean-going  cargo vessels in the region  are in trouble as they would be forced to go underground.

 Believed to the be the first  integrated  Maritime Security  strategy in the West and Central African sub-regions, the  Deep  Blue Project , which Jamoh, the NIMASA  boss had said ‘’is aimed at  tackling  the incidences of piracy, sea robbery and maritime crimes at sea’’ will achieve its purpose.

Last year prosecution, of some arrested  suspected Pirates with the support of Naval personnel on patrol even when the ministry of Transport, Maritime agency have not  deployed its procured Deep Blue  assets, has given a signal that more of such Pirates  would be rounded up soon by the specially trained MSU, troops, who will  man the assets in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea.

It is not surprising why Jamoh, had told those that cares to listen that  with the agency  efforts  to secure the Nigerian waters,’’ it will  give the people leverage  to harness  the enormous  resources of the country’s  maritime environment  and aid the drive  towards economic diversification’’.

Stephen Ubanna

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