By Kenneth Jukpor
Despite the Federal Government lamenting that there are scarce resources in recent times, the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi has revealed that Nigeria has entered into a three years agreement with an Israeli firm worth $195m on maritime security.
Amaechi who made this disclosure at the 2017 World Maritime Day celebration in Lagos, posited that the contract had become pertinent to solve the myriad of challenges facing shipping and the exorbitant amount shipping firms to pay for security escort on the nation’s waterways.
According to the Minister, the agreement which has financial obligation on the Nigerian government is expected to commence this December.
“On the issue of maritime security; the Federal Government has contacted an Israeli firm who is going to train our security men. They will buy equipment and dominate Nigeria’s waterways for the next three years. Within the three years, the Israeli firm will train our security operatives for them to take over after the expiration of the contract. They are yet to launch because they are still buying the equipment. When you see the equipment’s on the waterways, people will know they are safe and secured.
“Mr. President has approved that, and that is being done through the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). In three years, they will train our Navy, our Army and our Police so that we can stop spending money escorting boats and vessels on our waterways.”
“The Israelis has assured us that after the training of our security operatives, such harassment and attacks on our waterways will not happen again. They even said we should hold them accountable if such harassment persists on our waterways after the training. That is one achievement that has happened under our leadership in the maritime sector.
Meanwhile, in a reaction to this development, a former Director General of NIMASA, Barr. Temisan Omatsheye stressed that the major development needed to enhance security of the maritime sector was an improvement in the use of modern technology.
Temisan who was speaking to MMS Plus exclusively at the event said, “Security of the water has become digital. We don’t need to give contracts to security outfits. We also don’t have to rely on physical presence on the waters. All we need to do is to deploy the modern technologies available to guarantee real time monitoring of the waters. From what we have discussed here, the focus ought to be that we ensure such platforms are made available. This would enable us effectively engage the criminals on the sea.”
Also speaking on the sidelines with our correspondent at the event, the Rector of Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron, Mr. Duji Efedua said that the maritime security challenges in the nation were so enormous that the Marine Police, Nigerian Navy and NIMASA have been overwhelmed.
“Don’t expect much from the Police, Army and Navy on maritime security at the moment because they are already overwhelmed. The Navy has a lot to deal with the militants in the Niger Delta. Although, they are all making efforts, but most of these militants are determined to leave flambouyantly taking up negative vices”
Efedua also commended the Minister of Transportation, Amaechi for instituting an interim management committee to help stabilize the activities at the academy.
Efedua lamented that some external interference at the academy had stalled its progress in the past, stating that the committee has done a good job to rectify some of the problems facing the academy. He added that by the end of the year, there would be significant positive changes at the institution.
“The institution was ready to graduate some cadets but the committee found out that their results were not ready as at the set time for graduation. So, who would they have graduated? How would they have ascertained the best in the various fields and the overall best? The academy seemed to have lost focus or run out of ideas but we are restructuring” he said.
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