The former chief of naval staff, Rear Admiral Dele Ezeoba, has said that the $195 million maritime security contract entered into by the federal government and an Israeli firm, Messrs HLSI Security Systems and Technologies would fail.
The $195million maritime security contract was signed off by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in December 2017, and was for the provision of three helicopters, three airplanes, three big battle-ready ships, 12 vessels and 20 amphibious cars, to aid security of Nigeria’s waterways.
In January 2018, the house of representatives criticised the management of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for awarding the contract to HLSI, saying it was a breach of Nigeria’s internal security and defiance of the local content law.
President Muhammadu Buhari, had in May 2018, cancelled the contract via a memo directing the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to terminate the contract and for the national security adviser and the Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA) to investigate how the contractor obtained security clearance without an end-user certificate.
Buhari also ordered HLSI to supply equipment to the tune of the $50million upfront payment it received from Nigeria.
The federal government however reinstated the contract in August, according to NIMASA.
But speaking to LEADERSHIP last week, the former naval boss said that the current command and control structure of the security contract would make it fail.
Ezeoba, who also frowned at the government’s stance of contracting maritime security contract to a security firm, said the government should instead provide adequate funding for the Nigerian navy.
He said, “I feel pained because having been an active participants in all these matters, it becomes disheartening to note that we are still in a country where people play to the gallery. We have a constitutional mandate that anything that has to do with maritime security is the sole responsibility of the Nigerian navy and the country owe us as a constituent people a responsibility to fund the Nigerian navy adequately to discharge its responsibilities but instead, they go through the backdoor to create some façade and instead of funding the lead agency that should create the initiative to do the needful, they do the more you look, the less we see.”
Ezeoba also stated that with Falcon Eye, there wouldn’t have been any reasons to contract security of the nation’s waterway to a foreign security firm.
“Admiral Akpan told us about Falcon Eye and I was privileged to know what it is because i was privileged to be part of the people that lay credence to that to become a priority when he was a consultant. So, if we see Falcon as it is set up today, you have no reason as a Nigerian to give another contract through the back door for maritime security. It is unacceptable, Period!
“In addition to that, let it be known that security as it is today under the structure we have, nothing has changed except there is a new law resting squarely with the minister of defence.”
Frowning at the command and control structure of the security contract, Ezeoba said the structure should have been domiciled under the minister of defence.
“The NSA is an executive adviser to the president on security issues and why I say this is because he doesn’t control forces, so if you create a structure and you put the structure under him, that is the beginning of failure because I can tell you as a practitioner and insider that it won’t work.
“There will be conflict among the security agencies because everyone wants to protect its comfort zone and who do they take instructions from? Will minister of defence take instructions from NSA or the chief of army staff (COAS) who is responsible to the chief of defence staff or minister of defence?
“You want the minister of defence to take instructions from the NSA or the COAS who is responsible to the chief of defence staff and minister of defence to leave his office and begin to ….. we need to think properly and those of you at the other side of divide should always ask questions,” he stated.