In another major step towards the full realisation of an integrated surveillance and security architecture to broadly tackle insecurity in Nigeria’s waterways, up to the Gulf of Guinea, the country has taken delivery of the first special mission vessel under the Deep Blue Project.
Chairman of the Project Monitoring Team for the Deep Blue Project, also known as Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, Mrs. Olu Mustapha, disclosed this recently in Lagos at a graduation ceremony organised by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for a new set of C4i system operators.
The Command, Control, Computer Communication and intelligence (C4i) centre located at the NIMASA-owned Nigerian Maritime Resource Development Centre (NMRDC), Kirikiri, acts as the nerve centre for operations and workflow management for all platforms under the Deep Blue Project. The graduation of the C4i operators marks another milestone towards the total commencement of the project.
Mustapha, who is also the Director, Project Services, at the Ministry of Defence, said the essence of the training for the intelligence officers was to ensure adequate capacity to man the assets under the Deep Blue Project, especially with commencement of the receipt of the special assets.
According to her, “The assets of the Deep Blue Project must be manned by competent personnel and that is what we are committed to through various training programmes for different components of the project. This graduation of C4i system operators will produce additional personnel for the optimisation of the system.”
In his remarks, the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, lamented the negative effects of insecurity in the Nigeria maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea. Dakuku said the President Mohammadu Buhari administration was committed to diversifying the economy and saw maritime as an economic game changer in this direction. He said security of the maritime environment was a top priority of the administration.
Dakuku stated, “The Nigerian maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea are known globally as major maritime security flashpoints. In addressing the challenges, a bi-ministerial collaboration of the Federal Ministries of Defence and Transportation, as well the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) developed a maritime security architecture comprising all military and security services as well as NIMASA to ensure a conducive environment for maritime to thrive.”
Dakuku, who was represented by the Agency’s Executive Director, Operations, Engr. Rotimi Fashakin, added that the Federal Government, through NIMASA, had invested ample resources in infrastructure, including the critical manpower component required to run the Deep Blue Project effectively and efficiently.
The DG asked the graduands to bring the skills and experience they acquired during their training to bear on the national security assignment.
The highlight of the event was the presentation of a certificates by Mustapha to the 24 graduands including Mr. Ibrahim Gana, who emerged the best graduating student.
It would be recalled that the C4i centre was commissioned in August. It is equipped with alert setting capabilities, Coastal Automatic Identification System (AIS), and SAT AIS signals all over the world, in liaison with some international security networks, for access to database for vessel movement, with capacity for six-year retrospective monitoring of vessels movement.