Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal M.D Umar presenting a gift to the Director General/CEO of NIMASA, Mr. Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi
WorldStage Newsonline-- The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is to partner with the Nigerian Airforce in the area of air surveillance to safe-guard the maritime domain in the country.
The Director General/CEO of the agency, Mr. Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi disclosed this in an interactive session with the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal M.D. Umar and other top ranking officers in the Nigerian Airforce in Abuja.
According to a statement by Hajia Lami Tumaka, Deputy Director, Public Relations, NIMASA boss stated that part of the Agency’s agenda is to see to the general development of the Nigerian maritime sector, hence the partnership with the Nigerian Airforce.
The CEO noted that this partnership was part of the transformation agenda of the present administration to reposition the maritime sector and transform it to a hub in Africa.
The NIMASA boss also condemned acts of the illegal oil theft thriving in the nation’s maritime domain noting that the collaboration between the Agency and the Nigerian Airforce in the area of air surveillance will go a long way in taming the tide.
In his words, “while the Nigerian Navy patrol the waterways and the Nigerian Airforce the airspace, it means that we have closed all gaps of illegality on the nation’s territorial waterways”.
The DG/CEO pledged that NIMASA would fund the operations of NAF stressing that the Agency would not interfere in the day to day activities of the NAF officers.
The CEO also sought the assistance of the Chief of Air Staff in the training some staff of the Agency in relevant areas to include Search and Rescue operations which is vital to air surveillance, noting that the International Maritime Organization, IMO has chosen Nigerian as the Regional Co-ordinator of Search and Rescue in the west and central African coast.
Akpobolokemi also promised that there will be an urgent review of the past moves to have a Memorandum of Understanding with the NAF.
In his response, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal M.D Umar, expressed his optimism on the success of the proposed partnership, describing it as a welcome development.
He said “ The Nigerian Airforce is willing, Able and Ready to partner with NIMASA in tackling the serious problems in the nation’s maritime domain”.
The Chief of Air Staff also pointed out that the force has an ATR 42 aircraft that can be sustained for eight hours on the air which would also be useful to the Agency for search and rescue operations.
While thanking the DG/CEO of NIMASA for promising to assist the NAF in the area of funding, the Chief of Air Staff reinstated his commitment to accepting as many NIMASA staff as may be sent to them for requisite training.
Earlier, the Chief of Policy and Planning of the Nigerian Airforce Air Vice Marshal Gbolahan Adekunle observed that due to incessant changes in leadership of NIMASA all efforts to have a signed agreement had been stalled. He was however hopeful that with the level of determination the present Management has shown, the planned synergy will be eventually consummated.
It must be noted that air surveillance is an essential component of maritime safety and tackling criminality in the coastal area.