The chairman, House Committee on the Nigerian Navy, Hon. Yusuf Gagdi, has commended the management of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for its commitment to transparency in executing the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure also known as the ‘Deep Blue’ project.
The commendation was made when the agency’s management appeared before the committee currently investigating the award of contracts on the project to HLS International Limited.
“We, in the Committee of the Navy, commend your management team at NIMASA for providing all documents we have requested. It shows that you have nothing to hide. We desire to ensure public funds are spent not only in the public interest but under the provisions of the laws of the land,” he said.
A member of the committee, Hon. Alao Ajala was delighted that Nigeria has exited the global piracy list. His position was re-echoed by most members of the committee who also acknowledged the role the Nigerian Navy is playing in securing the nation’s territorial waters.
The director-general of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, in his presentation to the committee, said that the agency acted in line with approval from the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the agency to fund the ‘Deep Blue’ project at the cost of $195million with a management fee of 10 per cent, adding that the funds invested in managing the assets since their deployment is appropriated for by the National Assembly.
He disclosed that the Korean government has identified with the project.
“The Korean government is delighted at the concept of the ‘Deep Blue’ project and has promised to support Nigeria by donating a vessel to increase its fleet under the project. Also, the government of Japan has joined by pledging support via funds.”
Jamoh listed assets acquired by NIMASA for the project to include 17 fast intervention vessels, 2 special mission vessels, 2 special mission aircraft, 3 special mission helicopters 4 unmanned aerial vessels and 16 armoured vehicles. The project also has a command-and-control centre known as the ‘C4i Centre’ located in a NIMASA facility in Lagos which is jointly manned by officials from all the arms of the Nigerian Armed Forces, NIMASA staff and other para-military agencies who are part of the project.
The assets are properties of the agency manned and operated by the various military arms of the government to enhance the security of commercial shipping in the Nigerian maritime domain.
In a related development, the Minister of Transportation, Hon Rotimi Amaechi disclosed that Nigeria has received an award from the African Union for conceiving the ‘Deep Blue’ project.
During the investigative hearing, the minister said necessary approvals were secured before the implementation of the project. “I was to be in Nairobi last week when the African Union gave us an award for the ‘Deep Blue’ project. Presently, the crime rate on our waters and the Gulf of Guinea region has reduced. Before now, we ranked number one in the world but, since the deployment of the HLSI project, piracy has reduced drastically.”