The deployment of the Deep Blue Project, the security architecture setup by the government to secure the nation’s waterways on June 10th signifies a new beginning as regards security on the seas, potentially leading to easy access of Nigeria’s blue economy.
Blue economy is mostly unknown, overlooked and underdeveloped in Africa, even though a major growth driver. Nigeria is yet to take advantage of the enormous resources that abound in this area.
The federal government is encouraged to, while launching the Deep Blue Project, consider with seriousness diversifying towards its blue economy. This economy encompasses all economic activities in and around rivers, lakes, streams, riverbanks, shorelines, groundwater, freshwater, seas and oceans.
Worldwide, 90 per cent of international trade takes place via the sea and 95 per cent of global communication relies on underwater networks.
However, resources of our oceans have been illegally pillaged due to insecurity on the nation’s coastal water and in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG), contributing largely to the non development of the country’s blue potentials.
Maritime crimes such as kidnapping, robbery, piracy among others are security threats affecting harnessing the potentials in the sector.
International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB), 2020 has shown that piracy in the Gulf of Guinea recorded the highest number of crew kidnapped in 2020. The report indicated that the Gulf of Guinea accounted for over 95 per cent of 135 crew members kidnapped globally during the period.
In 2020, IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) received 195 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships worldwide against 162 recorded in 2019.
The Deep Blue Project is a welcome initiative applauded by maritime stakeholders who not only believe it will encourage development of the nation’s blue economy, but will also end maritime crimes in the nation’s coastal water and the GoG.
The former director general of NIMASA, Dr Dakuku Peterside considers the Deep Blue Project to be a multipronged approach towards tackling insecurity in Nigeria’s territorial waters and the entire Gulf of Guinea.
Also, a member of the Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA), Captain Taiwo Akinpelumi says he is confident that with the deployment of the assets, there will be a reduction in the rate of maritime crimes on the nation’s waterways.
“The deployment of the assets I think is a step in the right direction and we are hopeful that there will be improvement in maritime security.
“There would be rapid response in case there is any area where we have incidents of either pirate attack, sea robbery, illegal and unregulated fishing or any form of maritime criminality,” he said.