Deep Blue Project: It’s mission accomplished, says Jamoh, DG NIMASA
June 11, 2021
March 2020, upon assumption of office as the Director-General of NIMASA, and at the inauguration of the agency’s Governing Board, we were given a clear mandate to fund and deliver the Deep Blue Project. Mr. President, may I respectfully, with the permission of my Supervising Minister of Transportation, announce that the mission has been accomplished.
When I took up office with my executive team, we set out on a triple ‘S’ agenda of Maritime Security, Maritime Safety and Shipping Development. We devoted most of our energy and focus in our first year to addressing the problem of maritime security.
Without security of our seas, no meaningful seaborne trading or shipping economy can be possible. Securing our seas became a pressing mandate.
Today marks the fulfilment of that mandate. March 2020, upon assumption of office as the Director-General of NIMASA, and at the inauguration of the agency’s Governing Board, we were given a clear mandate to fund and deliver the Deep Blue Project. Mr. President, may I respectfully, with the permission of my Supervising Minister of Transportation, announce that the mission has been accomplished.
The Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure popularly known as the Deep Blue Project is the brainchild of this administration with a clear objective to Manage, Control and Protect Nigerian Waterways. In line with the mandate given us we explored various initiatives all geared towards ensuring our waters are safe so that business can thrive to impact positively on the economy of the country and the Gulf of Guinea.
There is no doubt that Deep Blue Project is about assets and platforms. But these Assets and platforms by themselves cannot address the challenges of maritime insecurity. Even if you have assets and arrest the pirates, if you don’t prosecute offenders it is a wasteful exercise. That is why, Mr. President, today the maritime industry thanks you for signing the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences (SPOMO Act) into law. The very first of its kind in the entire Gulf of Guinea that is fast becoming a model for other African maritime nations. Under this law, we have successfully prosecuted, convicted and sentenced several offenders for the first time.
Next is NIMASA’s partnership with various international organizations that has helped to improve regional approach to solving maritime challenges. We are beginning to witness an era of proper coordination, meaningful collaboration and productive cooperation. Today we are working ever more closely with the IMO for purposes of restoring sanity to our seas and there can be no greater proof and encouragement than the evidences of the International Maritime Organization’s Secretary-General’s endorsements of Nigeria’s leadership efforts for curtailing criminality along our coastal corridor.
On the Home-front, upon assuming office as DG of NIMASA, we immediately established the Maritime Intelligence Unit (MIU) in order to reset our paradigm and approach towards understanding and properly profiling the behavioural patterns of the young people who engage in sea crimes and piracy. This became for us a more proactive approach to the problem of maritime insecurity.
The success of the Maritime Intelligence Unit also provided us the capacity to intervene using the carrot and stick approach in a meaningful manner to salvage our young people that have been prone to being recruited into piracy along our coastal states. Coupled with our littoral states outreach to the state Governors, a new partnership is emerging that will deal with potential piracy issues before they occur.
Realizing the enormity of the economic loss from attacks on our shipping activities, we also created a window of opportunity for the industry to engage regularly with the agency as regulator. This gave birth to the NIMASA Joint Industry Working Group. The monthly forum of candid interactions with critical stakeholders such as BIMCO, InterCargo, InterTanko among others provided a sounding board for shaping policies that have impacted on maritime security strategies and protection of our seafarers. It is worth noting that a major milestone resulting from this partnership with industry is the new Framework for jointly Tackling Maritime Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea signed and co-chaired by the Inter-Regional Coordinating Centre (ICC), Yaoundé and the Nigerian Navy / NIMASA known as GoG-SHADE
We have also recorded progress on the issue of harmonization of surveillance between NIMASA (C4i), NPA, Nigerian Navy (Falcon Eye) and the Nigerian Police. All of these will complement the DEEP BLUE Assets to ensure that it is fully robust.
Mr. President, The project we have come here to officially launch is the final piece of our strategy for combating the menace of piracy and sea robbery in not just our waters but also the Gulf of Guinea. Deep Blue comprises of 2 Special Mission Vessels, 3 Special Mission Helicopters, 4 Unmanned Air Vehicles/ Drones, 16 Fast Moving Interceptor Boats, 17 Armoured Vehicles, Over 300 Specially Trained Personnel for the Maritime Security Unit and the C4i Centre. ALL SIGNED, SEALED AND DELIVERED.
Let me conclude by using this auspicious occasion of the official launch of Deep Blue to report that since the deployment of the assets in February, we have experienced continued decline in piracy attacks in our waters on a monthly basis. We therefore invite the international shipping community to rethink the issue of war risk insurance on cargo bound for our ports – Nigeria has demonstrated enough commitment towards tackling maritime insecurity to avert such premium burden.
Let it be clear that for us at NIMASA, Security is Priority – We are for Safer Seas and Calmer Coasts. Seafarers will never have cause to worry when they sail our waters. Shipping will be safer for trade to boom. I welcome you all to this epoch-making celebration.
Welcome Address Presented by Dr. Bashir Jamoh, Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration And Safety Agency (NIMASA) At The Launch Of The Deep Blue Project- June 10, 2021