The command, control, communication, computer, and intelligence system (C4i) centre se up by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to enhance security on the waterways is a failure, a ship owner, Captain Taiwo Akinpelumi, has declared.
The multimillion dollars C4i centre, created by NIMASA in August 2019 and located at the agency’s Resource Development Centre, Kirikiri, Lagos, was set up to curtail maritime crimes by providing “effective monitoring of the country’s vast territorial waters”.
But Capt Akinpelumi, who is a member of the steering committee of Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA), said plans by the European Union to take charge of maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea is a confirmation of the failure of the C4i project.
He said, “The plan by the EU is unfortunate but we cannot submit our sovereignty to a body as the EU. We can’t degenerate into that situation whereby the EU has to come and police our waters for us.
“It is also an indictment on the coastal states around the Gulf of Guinea that they cannot police their waters. It is also an indictment that all the millions of naira spent during the global maritime security conference where almost 30 countries were hosted by NIMASA in 2019 achieved little or no result. It also shows that the security architecture also known as C4i that was established for so long is not effective. It is very shameful,” he added.
Speaking in a chat with SHIPS & PORTS, the ship owner said the alarming cases of kidnapping and armed robbery at sea in recent times were worrisome, stressing the need for NIMASA to strengthen its maritime intelligence architecture.
“NIMASA has to strengthen its maritime intelligence unit whereby adequate resources would have to be deployed. We don’t have to be reactionary. We have to anticipate by way of gathering intelligence. If we are able to strengthen the gathering of information that we process into intelligence, that would be the first way to go,” he said.
Akinpelumi decried the delay in the takeoff of the NIMASA deep blue project, which aims to tackle insecurity on the nation’s waters, saying that despite the billions of naira spent on the project and several failed promises to deploy the assets, no concrete result has been achieved.
He noted that with the cancelation of the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) contract by the Federal Government with responsibility now saddled on NIMASA to take charge of providing security for vessels, urgent measures should be put in place to close the gap that could be created.
“It is the responsibility of NIMASA to provide maritime security for commercial shipping, not the responsibility of the Ministry of Transport and that is where the anomaly lies. It is the reason why we are experiencing delay in the deployment of these assets.
“The deployment of the project has been protracted for too long. Despite the humongous money spent on the deep blue project, we are yet to see any result because of the way things are being handled.
“I don’t know why the deep blue project will be the core function of a supervisory ministry. How long does it take to put in place a maritime asset and how long does it take to train manpower? I am sure if it were NIMASA that had this mandate, the establishment of the deep blue project would have been in place by now.
“There should be a paradigm shift from the way things are done in the past. We should not allow any gap to be created especially with the cancellation of the secure anchorage contract,” Capt Akinpelumi added.