The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Patrick Ziakede Akpobolokemi has given reasons why the agency signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and Nigerian Navy (NN).
At a two day maritime stakeholders’ sensitiza-tion conference on the partnership between NIMASA and NAF in Lagos, Akpobolokemi said the MoU was aimed at ensuring the promotion of maritime safety and security.
According to him, it was part of efforts in giving expression to NIMASA statutory mandates in relation to maritime security, safety and search and rescue (SAR). NIMASA opted for collaboration with relevant agencies of government in order to have a seamless execution of these mandates.
He noted that the MoU it signed with NAF on August 26, 2013 was one of the partnerships it started to ensure the execution of its statutory roles and responsibilities.
He explained that this partnership was entered into with a view to further enhancing the agency’s capacity in enforcing extant maritime laws as well as to monitor and secure the Nigeria’s territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
According to the NIMASA helmsman, the collaboration with NAF and NN was also meant to check rising incidences of piracy and increased sophistication of pirates, armed robbery at sea and other unlawful activities in Nigerian waters.
Akpobolokemi stated that its partnership was further strengthened by the statutory role of the NAF in defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria by air and their establishment of a reputable and efficient maritime capability in the Gulf of Guinea through their ATR 42 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) and other platforms, including search and rescue operations as well as the conduct of air surveillance and other operations for the enhancement of safety and security in Nigeria’s maritime environment.
He expressed delight at the collaboration, saying that since the inception of the partnership, the agency has recorded tremendous successes in the area of air and coastal surveillance and the exercise of the right of hot pursuit.
He said the agency will not leave any stone unturned in its quest to secure Nigeria’s territorial waters
According to him, the agency was committed to harnessing the huge wealth the Nigeria maritime sector offers to both the nation and investors through enhanced surveillance and maximum safety for vessels and personnel on its coastal waters.
He noted that while Nigeria is endowed with a maritime environment, it is yet to be a maritime state in the true sense of the word.
He said in view of the huge potentials and wealth realisable on the nation’s coastal waters, the agency has continued to explore partnership with various security agencies such as Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Army, and Nigerian Air Force which training, competence, and legal backing puts them in strategic position in the overall attainment of its mandate.
While acknowledging the importance of the presence of Nigerian armed forces in the agency’s drive to attain its regulatory and surveillance mandate, he noted that the Act establishing NIMASA empowers it to carry out air surveillance, search and rescue operations among others.
He however said NAF was strategically equipped and legally empowered to enable NIMASA achieve the desired goal of a secured coastal line surveillance.
“While the Act establishing NIMASA empowers to carry out air surveillance, we in NIMASA feel that Nigerian Air Force is strategically equipped, robust and empowered to enable us achieve our mandate. Air surveillance is an essential component of maritime safety strategies in tackling criminality in the coastal area”, he said.
“Therefore, this conference is meant to educate all stakeholders in the industry on the steps, commitment and strategies so far adopted as well as seek their commitment and cooperation towards ensuring maximum security of the nation’s water ways”, Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu noted further.– International Trade Monitor