AS Nigeria is busy tinkering on the creation of a distinct Maritime Security Agency to provide the much needed security for its maritime, oil and gas installation and businesses, neighbouring and equally oil rich Equatorial Guinea has awarded a whopping $250Million contract to provide coastal surveillance for that country’s equally vast aquatic resources.
The contract was awarded to a United State of America-based private security firm which is known as Military Professional Resources Initiative (MPRI) as part of what the country explained as its Maritime Security Enhancement Programme (MSEP).
It was confirmed that the contract which was recently awarded covers complete establishment of network of surveillance sites and operation centers at different points along the Equatorial Guinea coast.
Snippets of the contract which was recently awarded reveal that the foreign company will operate the sites for three years, followed by another two years of providing sustenance and maintenance support for the hi-tech surveillance equipment.
The bill to establish Nigeria’s equivalence; the Maritime Security Agency (MASECA) which unlike Equatorial Guinea is a national and wholly Nigeria-owned institution is awaiting concurrent passage at the Senate, after being overwhelmingly passed by the House of Representatives recently.
Equatorial Guinea only discovered oil in commercial quantity in 2006 and has since then rely heavily on hydrocarbons for her foreign exchange earnings. The country currently produces about 375,000 barrels of crude oil per day, while Nigeria’s crude oil production peaked at about 2.7million barrels per day, but got to an all-time-low of about 1.3 million barrels per day between 2006 and 2009 in the wake of militant attacks in the Niger Delta region.
Apart from the vast crude oil export which has been adversely affected by activities of oil thieves and illegal bunkerering, the nation’s vast maritime resources have also been largely affected by activities of pirates and sea robbers who have continued to attack ships and other water crafts including fishing trawlers unchallenged.
Nigeria also controls more than 65 per cent of maritime activities within West and Central Africa, with about eight sea ports, several oil terminals and a vast coast line.
Meanwhile a cross section of the Nigerian maritime industry is divided on whether to create a new Maritime Security Agency to take care of the marine security within the coastal waters of the country.
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is currently providing the security for the sector of the industry, a development some stakeholders are saying that NIMASA does not have the capacity to provide such high profile security service to the Nigerian maritime industry.
A proposed bill that will set up a Marine Security Agency was recently passed by the House of Representatives.
An Ad hoc Maritime Security Committee headed by Honourble West Idahosa said that the nation’s security is too porous for NIMASA alone to handle.