Commissioning Of Falcon Eye Project At The Naval Headquarters
ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI GCFR, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, DELIVERED BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE COMMISSIONING OF FALCON EYE PROJECT AT THE NAVAL HEADQUARTERS ON THE 13TH OF JULY 2021
While preparing for this speech after the President asked me to represent him, I thought it might be interesting to find out why this system is named after the bird the Falcon.
I looked up information on Falcons and came across this description of the falcon and I could hardly believe how accurate the description is in the light of what the Falcon Eye Project is designed to achieve.
The description is as follows, “Falcons are the consummate hunters of the avian world. They are able to spot, chase and kill prey quietly and efficiently and humans have relied on them for many years as effective hunting partners.”
This is the whole point of this project, a facility that has the capacity to spot, chase and interdict maritime criminals quietly and efficiently and of course assisting the Navy and other agencies to do their work.
The Falcon Eye System is a state-of-the-art surveillance system that incorporates various sensors located along the nation’s enormous coastline, such as radars, long-range electro-optic systems with thermal or night vision capability, automatic identification system receivers, weather stations and marine very high-frequency radios for communication.
The integration of these sensors into the Falcon Eye System, we are told generates a real-time situational awareness of the activities of vessels in the Nigerian maritime domain and some selected parts in the Gulf of Guinea. We have heard a detailed description from the Chief of Naval Staff and also the NSA.
This will enable the Nigerian Navy to generate a comprehensive intelligence picture of activities within our maritime environment for further analysis before, in appropriate cases, dispatching a Nigerian Navy Ship for interdiction, investigation, and/or subsequent arrest of erring vessels.
The Falcon Eye System will serve as a force multiplier for our naval platforms tasked to effectively secure our maritime environment from external aggression. It will also enable the Nigerian Navy to effectively combat other maritime crimes that could disrupt the conduct of maritime trade.
Why is this project so important for us as a nation? The maritime industry occupies a prominent position in the matrix of our vital economic interests and it encompasses activities ranging from fishing and resource exploration to marine research and shipping among other endeavours. Of all these activities, shipping stands out as a critical link in Nigeria’s international trade engagements because it is the cheapest and most efficient means of moving large volumes of goods. Given our economic aspirations and our commitment to international trade, ensuring the security of shipping lanes within and proximate to our waters, is in our national interest.
In addition, all of our oil and gas resources which are largely domiciled in our maritime environment remain the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy as it accounts for 55 percent of our GDP, and about 70 percent of our export earnings.
In recent years, some key identified threats within Nigeria’s maritime environment have taken on increasingly more harmful dimensions to our economy and even the safety of citizens and commercial entities who use the maritime domain these include, piracy, armed attacks on ships, kidnapping for ransom, crude oil theft, smuggling, as well as Illegal Unregulated and Unreported Fishing (IUU). It is estimated that Nigeria loses several billions of dollars annually to various forms of criminality particularly piracy and sea robbery.
On account of the escalated risks in some of our maritime areas insurance premiums for commercial vessels coming to these areas have risen sharply making maritime trade an unattractive proposition for commercial traders. This underscores the need to enhance our maritime security architecture. Consequently, a critical contribution of the Falcon Eye System will be the provision of actionable intelligence for curbing maritime threats to our economy.
This administration has demonstrated a clear commitment to building the capacity of our strategic institutions to secure our coastal waters and the precincts of our maritime neighbourhood.
On the 24th of June 2019, the President assented to the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Bill. By this Act, Nigeria became the first country in the West and Central African Sub-Regions to promulgate a stand-alone law against piracy, which is an important international requirement set by the International Maritime Organization as part of measures to guarantee a secure global shipping environment.
The Act provides the much-needed legal and institutional framework to improve maritime security and ensure safe and secure shipping in Nigerian waters. Last year, we commenced the prosecution and secured our first convictions under this law.
Last month, Mr President conducted the launch of the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, otherwise known as the Deep Blue Project. The Deep Blue Project is a maritime security initiative of the Federal Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Defence implemented by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). It combines air, land and sea assets with operational components constituted by the Nigerian Navy as well as other branches of the Armed Forces, the security services and law enforcement.
Between these initiatives, we have significantly increased our national capabilities in the areas of maritime surveillance and criminal interdiction within our territorial waters. It is clear that this administration has invested substantial resources in steadily building our sovereign capacity for total spectrum dominance of our maritime environment. On behalf of Mr President, I urge all the relevant strategic institutions and stakeholders to collaborate in the pursuit of this all important endeavour in the national interest.
Let me at this point commend the officers, men and women of the Nigerian Navy for their service in various theatres. You have the thanks of a grateful nation and the resolute support of an administration committed to securing our territorial waters and guaranteeing the safety of traffic in our maritime neighbourhood.
It is my singular honour and pleasure on behalf of the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari to commission the Falcon Eye Project for the security of our maritime environment and the safety and well-being of commercial and private users of our maritime environment.
Thank you very much.