The Proposed Coast Guard
INSECURITY, widely acknowledged as one of the challenges facing Nigeria, has been promoted and enhanced by the porous boarders of the country especially the coastline and inland waterways that are not being adequately manned and protected now. It is therefore a welcome development that the federal government announced its plans to establish Coast Guard that would provide the required effective security surveillance and actions in the long coastline and inland waterways that are largely unprotected presently in the country.
THE Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, disclosed this laudable proposal in London recently during bilateral discussions with ministers and representatives from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Brazil and Jamaica at the 33rd General Assembly session of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
ALSO, at another event in Osun State, the Minister reiterated the plans by the Federal Government to establish the Coast Guard, as part of efforts to enhance security along coastlines in the country. He opined that proposed Nigerian Coast Guard will complement existing security architecture to further secure the Nigerian maritime space and enhance the operations of the Customs Service and other agencies in the maritime sector. The Coast Guard as properly developed in other climes particularly in the United States is a humanitarian and security service that protects the country’s borders and economic and security interests.
THE Coast Guard is a Sea Military Security Service Provider that performs an array of specialized multi-mission duties of maritime law enforcement, and management of the security of waterway transportation. Thus, when it is established as proposed in Nigeria, it will patrol the country’s coasts and international waters using sophisticated modern gadgets such as aircrafts and intelligence to detect, intercept and disrupt dangerous and illegal activities such as crude oil theft and smuggling, drug smuggling, smuggling of prohibited and banned goods and even human trafficking that are widespread in the country. They will also be engaged in maritime security, search and rescue operation and law enforcement in the difficult coastal environment and waterways of Nigeria.
IT is on the basis of the potential important roles of Coast Guard that the current efforts to create it becomes commendable and must be supported by all that seek peace and prosperity of Nigeria. In addition, the proposed Coast Guard will provide employment opportunities to the growing army of jobless youths of the country and ensure safety and enhance security along the coastline that are poorly manned at the moment. Nigeria has not less than 853 kilometres of coastline and about 10,000 perimeters of inland waterways. It will also help to promote coastal tourism since there will be adequate security to guarantee safety of the industry and tourists to the coastal areas of the country that are experiencing serious insecurity and activities of miscreants, touts and thugs.
HOWEVER, as plausible as the proposal, it requires adequate planning and preparation and implementation to ensure its success. Beyond mere proposal, there is the need for diligent implementation of the plans. It therefore requires a lot of resources including finance to make it a success. The federal government must be prepared to adequately fund the organization when established and recruitment into it must be by merit and not by whom you know and nepotism that have limited the performance of several government agencies in achieving their goals in the past.
THE existing security agencies should see the proposed Coast Guard as specialized security agency created to complement and support them and not to compete with them. Therefore, they should cooperate and support them to grow in a healthy way to promote security in the coastal areas and waterways that is the area of operation of the proposed Coast Guard. Those that must manage the Coast Guard must be commitment to the aspirations of the government by ensuring that they don’t fail the nation by working assiduously to ensure the success of the proposed outfit by not just keying into its goals but should faithfully carry out its tasks and not allow the Nigerian syndrome of corruption and nepotism destroy the laudable plans of the government in establishing the Guard.
FINALLY, the government must quickly enact the enabling law that will bring the agency into existence and that will provide for its efficient operations.