Business Hilights
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FEC’s approval for Israeli maritime security may deepen Executive, NASS rift

Indication emerged weekend revealing that contrary to the opposition of the National Assembly against the contracting of a foreign firm (an Israeli security company, HLSI Security Systems and Technologies ) to guard Nigerian volatile waterways,   the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved a $195m (N59.86bn at N307 to a dollar) contract for the security of Nigeria’s waters.

The revelation was made by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, at the 2nd Maritime Stakeholders’ Interactive Forum organised by the ministry in Warri, Delta State, weekend.

The minister had informed participants at the forum that rather than oppose the deal, it was important for stakeholders in the zone to vehemently oppose those who were working against the take-off of the security project.

Business Hilights recalls that a heated argument against the deal had ensured during a public hearing on a petition against the deal on grounds of exposing the territorial integrity of the nation to a foreign body that may or may not be mindful of the real security concerns and territorial intelligence of the nation.

The House Committee handing the petition rose in unisom to announce the suspension of the deal pending the substantive conclusion of the public hearing and relase of a report on the final decision of the Committee which must be debated by the Committee of the Whole before any action will be taken on the matter.

The Nigerian navy during the hearing averred that they were never contacted nor made to be part of the deal in the first instance.

Efforts to get reactions from some members of the Committee failed on Sunday evening, but there are strong indications that the unilateral action of the government may not go down well with the lawmakers who had earlier voiced strong opposition to the arrangement which analysts say, undermined the statutory obligations and efficiency of Nigerian Navy.

Though government claimed that the deal amongst other things covered training of maritime security personnel and introduction of technology to track waterway crimes, observers still see the deal as a negation of smooth understanding between the legislature and the executive arms of the government.

Before now, the cordiality of relations between the two bodies had suffered serious strains considering the decision of the National Assembly to hold on to considering several nominees for appointments to many government positions traced the Executive’s decision not to follow the decision of the lawmakers on issues surrounding the leadership of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In a statement conveying the FEC’s approval to the Israeli security deal, Amaechi had noted that “There are some people in the system making efforts to sabotage the project by stopping the security contract. They know that if there is security, they won’t impose any kind of levies on you,” he was quoted as saying.

In his defence, he averred that “The contract was part of measures put in place by the Federal Government to secure Nigerian waterways for legitimate business to thrive and also solve part of the Niger Delta problem”.

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