No fewer than 600 troops have been trained by the Federal Government to effectively man the state-of-the-art assets and facilities procured for the execution of the Deep Blue Project in the country.
This is coming on the heels of the termination of the multibillion Naira controversial OMSL Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) contract and the formal unveiling of the assets in Lagos by President Muhammadu Buhari on June 10, 2021.
There were fears in certain quarters that the formal unveiling of the assets for the deep blue project would create bad blood in the security apparatus in Nigeria’s territorial waters as the room for cutting corners by the security agencies, particularly the Nigerian Navy has been blocked.
The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh dismissed fears in certain quarters about the sustainability of the project.
Speaking at a recent parley with journalist covering the maritime sector of the economy, Jamoh revealed that not less than 600 troops have been specially trained for interdiction.
He explained that 600 troops which will constitute the Maritime Security Unit will operate on the waterways, land, and air.
According to him, the Deep Blue Project has three categories of platforms to tackle maritime security on land, sea, and air. The land assets include the Command, Control, Communication, Computer, and Intelligence Centre (C4i) for intelligence gathering and data collection; 16 armoured vehicles for coastal patrol.
The sea assets include two Special Mission Vessels and 17 Fast Interceptor Boats. The air assets comprise two Special Mission Aircraft for surveillance of the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ); three Special Mission Helicopters for search and rescue operations; and four Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.
The NIMASA helmsman stated that the deep blue project is a pride to Nigeria in the whole of West and Central Africa Sub-regions.
His words: “There is no country with such facilities or platforms. Therefore, it is thing of pride to Nigeria. We are going to deploy a system that would ensure that nobody can come onboard later to change the existing arrangements. We have had these platforms before but they are no more. However this one is going to be different because we have two organisations responsible for these assets”
“In terms of tactical operations, the Nigerian Navy is responsible, but in terms of strategy or logistics, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is responsible. In so doing, NIMASA own the assets. It is in custody of the assets. It is in charge of the assets. It will ensure maintenance and repair of the assets and other consumables. At the end of the day, the Nigerian Navy cannot give an excuse that because they do not have money, they could not do it. And for the first time, we are all working in tandem and in corporation, we have brought all the parties together”
Giving further insight on the development, Jamoh said: “As I am today, I do not see myself different from a Naval Officer. We have three Commanders. One is in charge of SHADE-GOG, a Rear Admiral.
Secondly, we have a Commander in charge of deep blue project and lastly we have another Commodore that is supporting the Nigeria Joint Industry Working Group where a conglomerate of world shipping trade owners are into; BIMCO, INTERTANKO, INTERCARGO and lots of other multinational groups”
“All these Commanders report to me directly and they have never shown me that I am a civilian and they are military. If they have to travel outside the country, before they get back home, they would call to notify me that they are back and they needed to brief me. They would come with their reports, we discuss it and they would tell me the next line of action. So, for the first time in Nigeria, we are seeing the co-operation between civilian and military in terms of the fight against the menace of piracy on our waters. The monster may think that we are divided. At the initial stage there were apprehensions, but at the end of the day, we are united as one, and we are going to fight against the monster called maritime insecurity”.