GUEST LECTURER:Rear Admiral FD Akpan (Rtd)
1.This paper discussed the concept of Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) in the strategic dimension involving the security and safety of the maritime environment. It further stressed that safety and security of the maritime environment are critical for national security and economic wellbeing of any nation. While it highlighted the prospects of Nigeria’s littoral, the paper was quick to enumerate that there was need to present effective patrols, improve maritime security and provide a conducive environment within the maritime domain for enhanced commercial activities and foster the development of Nigeria.
2.The prospect of Nigeria’s maritime domain is enormous due to the presence of huge mineral deposit; however, the paper highlighted some threats to Nigeria’s adequate utilisation of the domain. These threats include nation state threat, terrorism, trans-national criminals, pirates, environment pollution and illegal immigration. Of interest to the presenter was the loss of revenue, employment opportunity and environmental degradation as a result of these threats to Nigeria’s maritime domain. The paper stressed the need for the NN to imbibe the tenets of maritime awareness by acquiring critical response architecture for effective naval operation. Some strategies proposed by the paper to address these threats include the preservation of the freedom of the seas/waterways through effective presence, facilitating and defending commerce and facilitating the movement of desirable goods and people, while screening out dangerous people and goods.
3.The paper enumerated the ISPS code and Safety of Lives at Sea (SOLAS) as some international instruments for enhancing MDA. However, there was need to fuse information and intelligence between government agencies and private sector because sharing of common data bases has been identified as one of the key to the development of an effective MDA. In line with this development, the paper stressed the need for Nigeria to implement the provisions of these instruments as proposed in the code as soon as possible to meet international standards and practice.
4.Building capacity for MDA as posited in the paper could be enhanced through a bill and an enabling act, because the bill would seek to provide the national structures, roles and the various guide lines towards the actualisation of the instruments of the conventions on MDA. Though the maritime security Bill is before the national assembly, the paper suggested the partnering of the NN with other key stakeholders in making inputs. However, due to the inhibitive cost of MDA programmes which would cause strains in planning regimes, there is need to utilize the provision for partnership to build enviable capacities for MDA within the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and other well advanced countries. As part of measures to build capacity towards effective naval operation through MDA, the NN would need to acquire some infrastructure to facilitate the monitoring of vessels that enter Nigeria’s maritime domain. These infrastructures include Port Vessel Traffic Management Information System (VTMIS), coastal VTMIS, Automated Identification System (AIS), Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) and Radio, Radar and Telecommunication system.
5.The strategic approach adopted in the paper for MDA involves consistent domestic and partner-initiated programmes, as well as significant regional collaboration given the trans-national character of most threats and vulnerabilities. Hence the proposal in the paper is a strategy incorporating regional and global realities. However, to achieve the appropriate MDA, understanding the implications of threats would help stakeholders and government to better appreciate their respective roles.
6.The paper was also of the...