History was on Monday made in the maritime industry as the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) jointly held a two-day conference to sensitize the maritime stakeholders on the existing partnership between the two agencies for effective maritime safety and security, search and rescue operations.
The conference tagged,” maritime Stakeholders Sensitization Conference on the partnership between Nigerian Maritime Administration and safety agency and the Nigerian air Force”, saw the Honourable Minister of transport, Sen. Idris Umar, the Director General of NIMASA, Mr. Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi, the Chief of Air Staff, Air, Marshal Adesola Amosun, the Chief of Naval Staff, the top Management of NIMASA and other critical stakeholders in the industry in attendance.
Delivering a keynote address to mark the event, the Director General of NIMASA, Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi stated that the Armed forces was critical to the agency’s mandates which includes but not limited to; secure the maritime domain, engage in search and rescue operations, ensuring maritime safety and effective compliance to regulatory obligations.
Akpobolokemi hinted that it was in a bid to achieve these critical mandates that NIMASA entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nigerian Air Force.
According to him, “ whereas in the Act that established NIMASA, we are empowered to carry out air surveillance operations. We at NIMASA in consonance with the Board, Management and Staff are of the opinion tat the Nigerian Air Force is strategically placed by its robust capability and it is empowered enough to assist us in carrying out these obligations”.
“The Nigerian Air Force, enabled by the constitution of Nigeria, have these necessary conditions that can assist us in the search and rescue efforts in the maritime safety and security, why don’t we partner with them instead of having this air operations manned and managed by NIMASA. We feel they should be more competent to do this job, that is why we are partnering with them”.
The Director General noted that since the union between NIMASA and the Nigerian Air Force, the agency had gotten some major support from the Air Force hoping that the agency was going to get more support from NAF in future.
While disclosing that NIMASA has its own obligation to meet in the MoU, Akpobolokemi assured that the agency was not going to shy away from its obligations as it was going to stand by the Air Force to support them when necessary so as to collectively build a maritime that could bring about stability in the nation’s territorial waters.
“I use this occasion to also communicate this to my brothers and sisters here that the safety and security of our maritime sector is always improving and the improvement is coming because of the collaborative partnership”.
“We have a vast EEZ of over 200 nautical miles blessed in abundance with hydrocarbon resources, also a robust fishing aquatic industry that if well tapped is going to provide employment so much for this country. It is also going to add to our GDP and all other economic benefits that we never anticipated will also follow and that is why we are working with the Air Force”.
“With the Military, the security agencies and NIMASA working together in collaborative partnership, all what we can see in the maritime sector is growth, development, more jobs, more safety and security, robust environment protection etc.”, Akpobolokemi said.
On his part, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Adesola Nunayon Amosu expressed optimism in the success of the pact which would see the Air Force strengthening NIMASA’s patrol,interdiction, arrest and reconnaissance through aerial surveillance.
Amosu,who was represented by Air Force Chief of Training and Operations, Air Vice Marshall Adebowale Olanrewaju Odunlade said NIMASA and NAF have commenced moves to improve airborne assets of the force to promote security of Nigeria’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
He added that command’s aerial vehicles would be improved upon in line with the MOU to boost the air force capacity to secure the nation’s waters and fight crimes like sea robbery, oil theft, illegal bunkering and refineries in Nigerian waters.
Earlier in his goodwill message, the Minister of Transport, Sen. Idris Umar expressed delight over the collaborative efforts of NIMASA and NAF in facilitating the Maritime safety and security of the Nigerian waters.
Represented by the Director, Maritime Safety in the Federal Ministry of Transport, Mr. Danjuma Dauda, Sen. Umar noted that without the collaborative efforts of the NAF and other security agencies in the maritime sector, the war against piracy and other maritime related crimes may not be won.
He said,” the federal Ministry of Transport appreciates and acknowledges the collaborative efforts of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and safety Agency and the Nigerian Air Force in forging a partnership to facilitate maritime security and safety of our waters”.
“Without this form of synergy with the Air force and other relevant agencies involved in the maritime security, the war against piracy may well be a mirage”.
He therefore pointed out that effective maritime security can further be achieved through sharing of information with all security agencies as well as the display of high sense of commitment and patriotism by the security personnel and the maritime officials.
“In this regards, I want to use this opportunity to commend the Board and Management of NIMASA for the foresight in synergizing with the Nigerian Air Force and the private sector for more and enhanced maritime security in line with the transformation agenda of Jonathan’s administration”, the Minister said.
Apart form the NAF, NIMASA have MOU with the army, navy, police and other security agencies in the country with a view to collaborating for optimum maritime domain security.