NIMASA/Air Force Union: Playing A New Rhythm For Pirates

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With the recent launch of space satelite to monitor the movement of vessels within the Nigerian territorial waters and the Gulf of Guinea by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), in collaboration with the Nigerian Airforce is a perfect initiative meant to expose the activities of piracy within the region and to be able to nab and bring them to book.

But the glitz of the scheme will be exposed to early extinction if the inter-agency commitment, collective contribution and cooperation of stakeholders is not given the necessary attention.

The collaboration is a further consolidation of the efforts at curtailing the activities of pirates whose level of operations has taken another dimension hence, the need for the collaboration.

This is in addition to earlier engagement of the amphibious arm of the Nigerian Army (NA) and the already existing collaboration with the Nigerian Navy (NN) to bring nefarious activities of the pirates to the barest minimum if not completely out of operation.

This effort of synergising with the Airforce is significant in the sense that it will help to catch up with the pirates no matter how far they are on the sea as the use of aircraft is involved.

One major advantage that readily comes to mind is that it will create an investment-friendly environment for foreign and local investors; secure lives and property which will inadvertently boost the confidence of investors to engage in trade within the zone or domain.

The speed at which the Airforce can deploy rescue operations to trouble areas will to a large extent not only reduce attacks on vessels within the domain but will as well disabuse the minds of those who already view the country in negative light.

The Minister of Transport, Sen. Umar Idris represented by Danjuma Dauda, Director, Maritime Safety said that the collaboration will help to achieve a lot more in the area of securing the nation’s territorial waters as well as the Gulf of Guinea.

He advised the various security agencies involved in securing the waters to share information as a means of working on the same page saying that will help them to accomplish their tasks more easily.

Speaking further, he enjoined both private and public to help in securing the maritime domain to make the task more easily achievable.

On his part, the Director General of NIMASA, Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi said that the synergy with the Airforce is a further consolidation on the existing ones to secure the maritime domain.

He said, “This is a further consolidation of the efforts we have made so far. When there is a reported piracy or I’ll theft, if there is need for immediate intervention, where the boats may be sluggish to produce the desired result, Airforce is called to bear.”

The DG’s assertion definitely describes the necessity of the Airforce in tackling the activities of the pirates knowing fully well that they have also devised some measures to beat the security outfits at water.

The satellite is built to provide coverage for the entire territorial waters and the Gulf of Guinea hence it gives the specifications of ships going out or coming into the country including their locations and distance. It also identifies the IMO number and other information god enough to track the ship.

But the sustainability of the joint effort. And the maintenance of the facilities is a vital factor that must be given vitality if pirates and sea robbers are to continue to be kept at bay.

No matter how robust a relationship is, if further effort is put to added to grease its wheel, it will imminently collapse that is why all machineries must be put on ground to sustain.

In view of this, Air Vice Marshal Adebowale Odunlade, the representative of the Chief of Air Staff reiterated the need for continuity when he called for cooperation and collective contribution of the various stakeholders for efficiency and effectiveness For the achievement of the objectives of the memorandum.

He added that the Airforce is poised to play its own part by providing all the necessary manpower needed to conduct surveillance and search and rescue operations in support of the understanding and objective.

He said, “this collaboration marks the actualisation of joint initiative by NIMASA and Airforce. There is no gain saying that the collective contributions and cooperation of various stakeholders will be vital in the efficient and effective achievement of the objectives of the memorandum.

“Undoubtedly, the success of this collaboration will depend on the commitment and inter-agency cooperation and efficiency.”

In a similar light, the Chief of Naval Staff represented by Commodore Jatau Luka said the initiative would make Nigeria a better place for investors and business while also calling for inter-agency collaboration for success to be achieved adding that since Nigeria has a big stake as far as Gulf of Guinea is concerned, there should be collaboration to achieve its objectives.

In the view of the representative of the Secretary, Abuja Memorandum of Understanding (Abuja MoU) on Port State (Abuja MoU), Mrs. Mfon Usoro, the scheme is a veritable one that must have required a lot of research for such a level of success to be achieved adding that with such synergy in place, there is possibility of tracking vessels that would have escaped and brought to book.

However, an aircraft, ATR 250 assigned for the operation said to have been acquired in 2008 still looks good for the job with all the necessary technological equipment is already on ground. This means that all is set for the commencement of action against pirates in another higher pedestal and if sustained, Nigeria will enter the league of the countries whose waters are record low level of piracy.

if the collaborations are properly managed by the agency and the security outfits involved in securing the waters, Nigeria can then transform from being a maritime environment to becoming a maritime nation because the absence of pirates in the territorial waters will translate to attracting both foreign and local investors.

In a similar vein, it will help the maritime domain to achieve its potentials and create employment for the teeming youth seeking for jobs.

This will also directly increase the revenue base of the country as more business opportunities will be enormously available to be tapped from both within and from abroad.

However, industry watchers are keen to know the nearest future of this scheme which seems to have come to put an outright end to the callousness of pirates and their activities in the territorial waters of Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea.

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