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FG LINKS INSECURITY, BUNKERING TO INADEQUATE COAST GUARDS

By NBF News
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The Federal Government has begun a process to get more coast guards for the nation's waters.

President Goodluck Jonathan who spoke in Abuja yesterday blamed the incessant insecurity at the nation's coast to inadequate coast guards even as he vowed to address the menace of oil bunkering and security at the ports.

The FG also assured that last Thursday's blow up of two pipelines belonging to the Italian oil giant, Nigerian Agip Oil Company in Bayelsa State forcing the shut in of about 4,000 barrels per day of production, was not an indication of militants' resurgence in the Niger Delta region.

President Jonathan who was represented by Vice President, Namadi Sambo at the Inter-Ministerial/Inter-Agency meeting on Human Capital Development Masterplan for Amnesty Programme at the State House, Abuja, noted that 'the incessant insecurity at our coasts is as a result of inadequate coast guards who may give information and perfectly protect the coasts,' adding that 'there is need to train more people as coast guards.'

The meeting was called to articulate ways to rehabilitate ex-militants and other Niger Delta youths in the Nigerian Seafarers Development training programme, at the end of which more personnel would be posted to secure the nation's coasts.

Vice President Sambo stressed that sustainable peace in the Niger Delta can only be achieved if there was enough surveillance by the security agencies, reiterating Government's determination to acquire more helicopters, and sub-marines to fight illegal bunkering and other insecurity problems on the country's water ways.

He further disclosed that Federal Government was determined to acquire more helicopters, and sub-marines to fight illegal bunkering and other insecurity problems on the country's water ways.

Special Adviser to the President on the Niger Delta, Timi Alaibe, described the attack as an isolated criminal incident that did not translate to resurgence in activities of militants in the region.

He assured of government's commitment to fishing out those behind the attack which he described as 'economic sabotage, as the security agencies have already swung into action, and they will face the full weight.'

He said judging from the recent past, the security situation in the Niger Delta had improved because of the amnesty programme, coming from below 700,000 barrels per day to now producing over 2 million barrels a day.

He disclosed that the meeting was to streamline processes of integration and training of the over 7,000 ex-militants both in the country and abroad, assuring that that despite the hiccups being experienced, the amnesty programme was on course.

Meanwhile, government has set up a technical committee to work on modalities for the training and has been mandated to discuss insecurity at the ports and creeks; address the immediate, medium and long term issues of illegal-bunkering and internal collaborators; co-opt other security agencies like the Navy, Air-force, Police and Maritime Security Agency (MSA) for effective report.

The Committee which comprises the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Minister of Transport, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, the Managing Directors of Nigerian Ports Authority and Petroleum Technology Development Fund, who were also in the meeting, has nine (9) days to complete its report.

Speaking at the meeting, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration, Mr. Temisan Omatseye, said the present state of affairs on Seafarer training in Nigeria can be traced to the demise of the state owned, Nigeria National Shipping Line (NNSL). He stressed that the Agency has taken practical steps within the existing Nigerian Seafarer Development Programme training framework with foreign countries including Vietnam, South Africa , India , Philipians and Egypt , to train space commitment of 2,150 Ratings in the next six (6) to seven (7) months.

In his observation, Alaibe, lamented that the Niger Delta states were not taking advantage of the programme by sending more youths for the training, adding that only 6,500 people which represent just 15 per cent of the number of those to be trained who showed interest.  He urged the Nigerian Maritime Administration to speed up the programme, as it would reduce the crime rate in the area.