Minister of Transportation; Mr Rotimi Amaechi has described Nigerians who do maritime business as unpatriotic citizens who aid insecurity and piracy on Nigerian waters.
Speaking during the official launching of the Deep Blue Asset in Lagos last week, Amaechi who lay claim to the project described Nigerians who do business on waters as unpatriotic, while informing that efforts to combat insecurity in the Nigerian maritime domain has led to the sack of two Ministers who, according to him, dared to combat the pirates terrorizing the nation’s water.
Ascribing the idea behind the deep blue project and the acquisition of the hi-tech maritime assets to his experience as the Governor of Rivers state between 2007 and 2015, he said maritime crimes were the order of the day in the south-south part of the country while he was the Governor.
Amaechi further informed that the same maritime security assets that cost the present government US$195 million, were acquired during the regime of former President Olusegun Obasanjo for about €400 million and the equipment are nowhere to be found.
He further said that, as a means to stop him from fighting maritime insecurity in Nigeria and the entire Gulf of Guinea, three panels where set up to probe him over the contracts that were awarded to the Israeli firm handling the security project; Messrs. HLSI.
He said: “Mr. President, I lay claim to this project. It was my entire idea. I didn’t sit with anybody. It was my idea and I can tell you why. As a governor in the South South, they were killing and maiming on the waters every day and I knew that it shouldn’t continue.
“So the very day they appointed me as Minister for Transportation in charge of Maritime, I knew that I had to do something very important to find a solution to that. Mr President, when we took over, we were number three in the world in maritime insecurity. Now we are number one, but for the records we are having, we have begun to make progress which means we should exit number one. In fact, we moved from number three to what we call World Premium risk zone, so all goods coming to Nigeria are charged as if they are coming to a war zone up till today. For any insurance, that is why I came up with this.
“Why I decided to speak extemporaneously is because if you recall, just because of this project, three committees were set up against me. One led by the Vice President, one led by the Minister of Defence and then EFCC because of this project. And all of them were cabinet committees; their accusation was that this is Amaechi’s contract. Mr. President, I don’t do contracts. But I want to tell you why they did it. Most Nigerians are not patriotic; most elites are not too.
“I was very determined. I’m surprised that the MD of Shell read his speech without saying that the oil companies met and promised me a gift if I can survive in this war. This war has sacked two ministers.
“Two ministers were sacked because of this very war. They were taken to the EFCC and they were sacked. This war under President Obasanjo, they spent between €300-400 million to buy the same equipment we have bought and they have disappeared.
“Until I leave office or the day you sack me; I’ll make sure that this equipment remains. Because Nigerians who do business on waters are not good people, those unpatriotic Nigerians are not good”, he said.