. Reiterates commitment to tackle illegal bunkering, pipeline vandalism, piracy

From Steve Agbota, Port Harcourt

The Federal Government, on Thursday, said the Maritime Security Unit of the Deep Blue Project would solve the challenges militating about the country from harnessing the $7 trillion inherent in the nation’s Marine and Blue Economy.

Speaking at the 2024 graduation ceremony of the advance combat training program for the maritime Security Unit of the Deep Blue Project, the Minister of Defense, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, said the officers have been equipped with necessary skills and knowledge necessary to confront maritime security challenges.

The officers are drawn from the Nigerian Navy, Army, Air Force, Police and the Department of State Service.
The Minister said that the trained officers have been prepared to address issues ranging from illegal bunkering, pipeline vandalism, piracy, smuggling to illegal fishing and environmental protection.

He said the role of the new trained officers is indispensable in maintaining the integrity of our maritime boundaries and protecting our national interest.”

“Maritime security is a collaborative effort, requiring coordination and cooperation with various national and international agencies. You will be amongst the frontline defenders, working alongside the Nigerian Navy, Maritime Police and other stakeholders to ensure a secured maritime domain,” the minister stated

The former governor of Jigawa state further argued that the waters surrounding the nation are vital arteries of commerce and national security and serves as gateways to economic prosperity that hold immense strategic importance.

Also speaking, the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, said the deployment of the deep blue platforms and assets in 2021 contributed to the drop of piracy and other maritime crimes in the nation coastal water.
The minister said the deep blue project also contributed immensely to the removal of Nigeria from the piracy hot list by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

“Since the full deployment of the Deep Blue platforms and assets in 2021 within the Nigerian Continental Shelf, maritime security has been significantly enhanced. The project has contributed immensely to the significant reduction in piracy and other maritime crimes, thus enhancing safety and security in Nigerian waters.

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“Sequel to this, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has removed Nigeria from Piracy Hot List. The achievement of zero piracy incidence in Nigerian waters since 2022 is quite commendable and we are committed to sustaining this with the combined effort of all key players. It is to be noted that United Nations Security Council, at its 905th meeting, acknowledged the progress made by Nigeria in maritime security with reference to the contributions of the deep blue project.

“Let me assure you all that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who has demonstrated unwavering support for our maritime security initiatives, is resolute in his commitment to sustaining this momentum. His leadership and vision have been instrumental in our journey so far, and we are confident that his administration will continue to provide the necessary support and resources to ensure the enduring safety and security in our waters.”

Giving his opening remarks, the director general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Dayo Mobereola, also disclosed that Nigeria was delisted from list of piracy prone countries in 2023.
He also stated that the agency will continue to seek collaboration in its quest to achieve sustainable security in the nation maritime domain.

According to him, It is noteworthy that Nigeria was delisted from the list of piracy-prone nations last year after a sustained period of zero piracy attacks in Nigerian waters.

“Let me commend the entire Deep Blue team for the progress made since its inception in 2019. It is noteworthy that Nigeria was delisted from the list of piracy-prone nations last year after a sustained period of zero piracy attacks in Nigerian waters.”

“With NIMASA providing the administrative and logistical support, and your valiant efforts on the frontline, I am confident that we will realize our collective aspiration of a secure and prosperous maritime domain, thus paving the way for the sustainable development of Nigeria’s blue economy,” the DG stated.

He further noted that the training of the officers prepare them to respond effectively to any challenges that may arise, thereby safeguard the national interests as well drive the nation’s economic prosperity.

“The graduates of this continuous capacity development training will serve as guardians of our maritime assets, safeguarding our waters against piracy, illegal fishing, and maritime smuggling, and ensuring the safety and security of our marine resources. Their training in tactical shooting drills, operational demonstrations, and other essential skills prepares them to respond effectively to any challenges that may arise, thereby safeguarding our national interests and driving economic prosperity.

“The Commissioning of the Armoured Vehicle Workshop demonstrates our commitment to modernizing and optimizing our military assets, ensuring our vehicles are in optimal condition and ready for deployment at any time. For the graduates, this means access to reliable equipment, enhancing their operational capabilities.

“Moreover, this development represents a sustainable approach to reducing our reliance on foreign maintenance services and cultivating self-sufficiency. The workshop will play a vital role in ensuring our forces have the necessary mechanical support to maintain operational effectiveness, thereby bolstering our national security and independence,” he added.

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