By Kenneth Jukpor
President Muhammadu Buhari has described the Deep Blue Project as the benchmark for maritime security among nations in the West and Central African region.
The Nigerian President made this claim while commissioning the project today in Apapa, Lagos, noting that the project is a strong statement of intent to tackle piracy in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG).
According to President Buhari, the Deep Blue Project was initiated to foster Nigerian security architecture within the nation’s waters and beyond.
Buhari inaugurated the $195 million Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, otherwise called the Deep Blue project after commissioning Lagos-Ibadan rail project.
“Deep Blue Project is coming at a time the globe has become concerned about piracy and maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea. This project displays the concerted efforts to guarantee security and it is a demonstration of the government’s resolve to diversify the nation’s economy and harness Blue economy potentials,” the President said.
While commending the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Defence for making the project a reality, Buhari encouraged all maritime stakeholders to collaborate with the ultimate goal being security of the marine domain and safety of seafarers in the country.
He also noted that the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act, Nigeria has prosecuted ten pirates using the Act.
In his address earlier, the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Ameachi noted that financial and maintenance sustainability of the Project would be developed by a Committee saddled with that responsibility.
Amaechi, however, expressed delight that the assets of the Project have already been deployed to guarantee safety at Lagos Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) after the private security outfits for such operations were banned.
The Transport Minister commended the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces Service Chiefs for their contributions throughout the preliminary stages of the project and encouraged them to maintain the support.
On his part, the Minister of Defence, Major General (rtd) Bashir Magashi, stated that with the Deep Blue Project, safety is guaranteed in the maritime sector and this would attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in maritime.
He described the C4i intelligence centre as the heart of the project, adding that with the operation of C4i and the entire project, piracy in the nation’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and the entire maritime space will be addressed.
Magashi stressed the need to make judicious use of the Deep Blue Project assets and advised that proper maintenance be provided to ensure the benefits of the project are fully optimized.