By Yahaya Isah
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has reaffirmed its commitment to continue strengthening its relationship with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in protecting nation’s maritime domain.
The Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said this when the Director-General of the agency, Dr Bashir Jamoh, paid him a courtesy visit at the NAF Headquarters on Wednesday in Abuja.
Abubakar recalled that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between NAF and the agency in 2013 was targeted at making sure that the nation’s maritime domain was protected against any form threat.
According to him, since the MoU expired in 2015, the service has been making several conscious efforts to see how the partnership could move forward in addressing the challenges facing the nation’s maritime environment.
CAS added that NAF had continued to play a very crucial role, working closely with the Nigerian Navy, (NN), using NAF maintenance air control aircraft of the ATR42, which had actually participated in several exercises within the maritime environment.
“I want to assure you that NAF will continue to work closely with your agency and I hope that NAF will put a technical team together immediately that will identify current and additional areas of partnership with the agency.
“The service has recently established a Combat Renaissance group in Gombe State to primarily deal with the security challenges of the zone and the other parts of the North.
“These assets can be moved to any parts of the country and we are looking that with time, NAF should be able to establish three wings, one in Lagos, Calabar, and Port Harcourt,” he said.
He said that this would be done in conjunction with other security agencies in maintaining the security of the nation’s maritime domain.
“There is no gain saying that the maritime environment is very crucial to the survival of the country and the service will continue to do its best to make sure it adds value to what is going on there.
“We are supposed to have West African Air Chiefs conference to deal with the Gulf of Guinea challenges and nation’s maritime domain as well, but was postponed due to COVID-19.
“We will see how to bring it back, especially NIMASA being one of the key participants,” he said.
CAS also promised that the service would try its best possible to make sure that ‘Deep Sea’ project came to fruition.
“I was in Benin, the Edo capital to inspect the infrastructure on ground. We are doing everything humanly possible to make sure things are in order before the arrival of the aircraft in Benin.
“We have the technicians and other personnel on ground so as they arrive, NAF should be able to fit in and get the job done professionally,” he said.
Speaking, Jamoh commended CAS for the achievement he had recorded so far not only in terms of securing the nations territorial integrity, but in area of capacity building among others.
Jamoh also commended CAS for prudent management of resources made available to him, especially in the area of innovations.
He said the purpose of the visit was to seek NAF support to enable the agency carry out its statutory responsibilities of securing nation’s maritime domain, adding that NIMSA was trying its best, but could not do it alone.
“The nation has witnessed special forces established by the service to deal with different security challenges across the country headlong.
“Your leadership role upon assumption of duty is worthy of emulation. First time we do not experience leadership crisis in the service,” he said.
According to him, NAF and NIMASA have a lot to share in terms of security, especially the nation’s maritime environment.
“We have seen the activation of 16 aircraft and additional six underway, all to ensure the security of the country and its citizens.
Jamoh, however, urged NAF to key into the ‘Deep Sea’ project, adding that the agency could not do it alone without the support of other relevant agencies like NAF.
“When the aircraft finally arrive, we won’t be the one that will pilot them or the maintenance and others.
“So, that is why we need to partner with the service and other relevant agencies to enable the agency carry out its core mandate of securing the nation’s maritime domain.
“I have no doubt that the relationship between NAF and the agency will go a long way in securing the nation’s maritime domain,” he said.