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Piracy: Experts fault minister on Israeli contract


Piracy: Experts fault minister on Israeli contract

By Eguono Odjegba


Maritime experts and stakeholders have disagreed with the insistence of the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, that Nigeria lacks indigenous capacity to provide the nation’s needed maritime security.

The experts reaction is coming on the recent posture that questions local capacity as reasons for his insistence that HLSI Security Systems and Technologies Limited, an Israeli firm must be the one to handle a $195million security contract.

Amaechi said on air while defending the Chinese railway loan of $400million that Nigeria the spike in piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, GOG, and Nigeria’s territorial waters has return Nigeria to number maturity insecurities on international ranking, down from number when the present government assume control in 2015.


The experts faulted the minister for overlooking our local content in preference for foreign services, noting that apart from systematically exposing our internal system and sovereignty to foreigners, foreign contracts indirectly deny Nigerians of employment, create capital flight and open the country to more maritime criminalities.

Speaking on the development, President of Nigeria Institute of Shipping, NIS, Dr. Anthony Onoharigho said the solution to maritime insecuirity were propounded during the recent international conference on global maritime insecurity organized in Abuja by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA; and wondered why the minister is failed to implement the resolutions instead of pushing for the Israeli contract.

He said, “We had a meeting in Abuja on global maritime insecurity organized by NIMASA, where the problem of the GOG was tabled. Papers were presented and highlights taken as points of resolution. The transport minister should tell us why he failed to carry out the recommendations or did we host the world only as a jamboree. So to answer your question directly, our government should implement the resolutions taken at that meeting, I believe it will take care of the challenges we are having both at the GOG and within our waters.

 “Why is the Israeli contract so appealing to him, what’s in it?  I remember that NASS stepped down this same Israeli maritime security contract that the minister talked about on the television, what’s his interest in insisting that it must be this foreign contract? 

“Let the minster continue with his rail contract with the Chinese, we have no expertise there, but we have all the required expertise and capability in maritime security. Thank God he admitted that before this present government, Nigeria was doing better delivering maritime security, who was providing it? It was Global West Specialists Vessels, a Nigerian firm.

“The irony of this desperation to bring in foreigners to secure our maritime space is that we do not only have the local competence and capability, we have the assets and infrastructure on ground. Unfortunately, this government sacked Global West, confiscated the vessels and charged the operators to court for allegedly stealing NIMASA money. Now they have all been acquitted, there is nothing wrong if government re-engage them to continue with its maritime security contract.  

“National security is everybody’s job, now from number one during President Jonathan’s government; we have fallen to number one. So Amaechi should get his acts right, stop that Israelis contract and invest in our local security industry. This government should focus on creating jobs for Nigerians and not foreigners.

“We have people who know the waters, rivers and sea up to the Gulf of Guinea, GOG, we must utilize them. It is also important that we do not expose our sovereignty to foreign interest, giving this maritime security contract to Israeli firm or any foreign firm is tantamount to ceding our sovereign security to foreigners.

Also commenting, President of the Merchant Seafarers Association of Nigeria, MSAN, Navy Capt. Abel Ogah, retired, said the minister’s posturing is political and self serving, noting that maritime insecurity will continue to rise until seafarers being churned out yearly in their large numbers under the watch and advice of the transportation ministry are provided with employment.

His words: “The truth is everything they are driving at is political, it’s the personal interest. Otherwise why should the minister question local capacity. These are part of what I call the Nigerian virus, the Nigerian factor. When we go out we perform very well, we come back there is the virus. Outside the shores of Nigeria, we carry out activities both operational in security and otherwise. So why can’t we carry out maritime security on our own?

“In the first place, there is nobody who can secure you like your own; you are the best person to secure your home, except, there is a personal interest at sabotaging your competence and effectiveness.

“Some political office holders are enemies of our national interest. Instead of encouraging and improving on previous performances, they will try to downgrade our indigenous capacity and capability so that they will have reason to go and bring foreigners. First and foremost, seafarers, for example, are among the people who are supposed to provide adequate information for maritime security. 

“There is what is called maritime safety information that is primarily supposed to be provided by seafarers. People that our government has trained outside are equipped with the knowledge of maritime environment, and when they come back they are not employed, it is only someone who is knowledgeable about the environment that can constitute threat. Just like the issue of cattle rustling, a man who does not have the knowledge of how to manage a cow cannot go and steal a cow.

“Presently we have so many people in Egypt, Philippine and elsewhere training as seafarers on the sponsorship of NIMASA, without first building an enabling industry to offer employment. So if these people come back and they are not engaged, with all the training they already have, what do you expect they will be doing when our waters and the GOG is there? Should they sit at home and die of hunger?”, he asked.


For Capt. Enusoh Warredi, a maritime security specialist and sailor, the statement of the minister was a poetic karma and a personal indictment, noting that those who killed the security arrangement in place ahead of the change of government in 2015 are the ones crying now. 

According to him, “I said it some time ago when the campaign of calumny started. In the last meeting before my departure, I said removing Global West without a robust alternative will place the Nigerian maritime domain at risk. Low and behold, I was alone with my opposition. The Global West contract was the best for Nigeria. It was based on No Performance No Pay. We pay on improvement above a set benchmark. No cost to shipping. Which foreigner will accept these conditions? But no, they said Global West must go, today all of us are now crying.”


Also commenting, maritime veteran journalist and commentator, Elder Asu Beks said the simple and short solution to the current challenge is to revert to local arrangement in place before the gradual slip.

 “If you have observed this minister closely, you will know that he has done much to undermine the maritime security architecture. They forced the sack of Global West, they fed President Buhari with all manner of lies and he approved Global West removal. Has it not become clear now that we did not gain anything?

“The simple solution in the immediate term is to revert, let President Buhari order the reinstatement of Global West. Give the job back to the man who was doing a good job, while the government can focus on something else instead of discussing maritime insecurities for ever.”

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