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The story of insecurity on Nigerian waters

Guinea region experienced increase in the rate of criminality which are mostly in the Nigerian waters, including kidnapping, piracy/sea robbery, unregulated and unreported fishing, smuggling, human and drug trafficking, bunkering and crude oil theft among others.
“Unfortunately, factors that fuel the acts are centered on the socio-economic issues in the Niger Delta region coupled with the activities of external collaborators, who derive pecuniary benefits from internationally organised crimes.
“To change the narrative of insecurity and criminality in the Nigeria waters, the Nigerian government adopted the hard and soft power approach, including bilateral and multi-lateral collaborations with organisations and countries within and outside the region.
“The hard power approach is spearheaded by the Nigerian Navy, in conjunction with other maritime security stakeholders such as the NIMASA.
“Meanwhile, an Anti-piracy Bill is being legislated upon at the National Assembly and to further boost employment and curb crude oil theft, the Federal Government is in the process of establishing modular refineries in the region.
“It is gratifying, however, to state that the various measures adopted to stem the rising tide of criminality in the Gulf of Guinea have yielded positive results.”
Though Nigeria has the potential to become the largest maritime nation in the West and Central Africa and should naturally have been the leader of GoG, as the country alone boasts of over 900 out of the 6000 nautical miles of GoG coastline. It also controls over a third of inward and outward seaborne cargoes in the sub-region.
According to Mr. Ismail Aniemu, Publisher of Journal, a maritime magazine, Nigeria’s maritime administration has abandoned its core mandate of promoting shipping and safety of navigation in the nation’s territorial waters and “It has failed to lead other maritime administrations in the sub-region in ensuring safety of navigation in the Gulf of Guinea.”
He said: “The country’s failure has consequently encouraged other smaller countries in the region to work hard to fill the gap in terms of effective Flag and Port State Administration and provision of adequate port infrastructure.
“To this end, Liberia; Ghana; Cote d’Ivoire and even Nigeria’s next door neighbours- Togo and Benin Republic- are competing effectively to control the maritime space of the region by making their waterways safe and with quality maritime administration, which include capacity development.”
Aniemu said while this was going on, Nigeria took the backseat in every aspect of maritime development, and started to constitute herself into a security risk to GoG and the West and Central Africa as ‘Nigeria pirates’ and sea robbers were believed to be responsible for most of the attacks on ships in the region.
He furthered said that the management team of NIMASA, led by Dakuku Peterside, was expected to have built on the achievements of the Global West Vessel Specialists (GWVSL) contract which, with the collaboration of the Nigerian Navy, brought down piracy and sea robbery on the Nigerian waters, and re-awarded the revenue collection aspect of the contract at a yet to be verified figure, though it was alleged to be a whopping sum of $420 million.
“The contractor, Snecou Nigeria Limited, a company believed to be owned by the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State, Dr. Davies Akanya, does not have evidence of any previous knowledge of the job or even competing for the contract as required by law. The company will earn 15 per cent of the revenue it collects for the agency and the agency confirmed that it is owed over $6 billion, while unconfirmed sources say that the agency might be owed over $15 billion.
“Fifteen per cent of $6 billion is $900 million. The result was total resurgence of armed banditry and sea robbery on the Nigerian waters and the entire Gulf of Guinea,” he said.
Sunday Telegraph reports that while the value of the controversial ‘Tompolo’ contract was put at $102 million, the announcement by Amaechi recently that the Federal Government has awarded the security patrol aspect of the ‘Tompolo’ contract to an Israeli private security firm at the cost of $195 million, if the $420 million being bandied about is anything to go by, then, the ‘Tompolo’ contract now costs Nigeria a whopping sum of $615 million.
Aniemu noted that the failure of the Dakuku Peterside-led management of NIMASA to ensure that the Lagos Regional Maritime Coordination Centre (Lagos RMRCC), one of the five designated Regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres in Africa, is in operation, is a clear indication that Nigeria is not interested in ensuring safety of navigation in the Gulf of Guinea.
The Lagos RMRCC is the secretariat of the West and Central African Search and Rescue Region and it coordinates search and rescue activities within the waters of nine countries in the West and Central Africa.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions on Thursday held a public hearing on the awarding of the $195 million contract for the security of Nigerian waterways to HLSI Security and Technology of Israel.
The House Committee is probing the planned concession of the nation’s waterways to the foreign security company.
Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, and the NIMASA boss, Peterside, were among those present at the hearing.
The hearing was, however, adjourned after the committee was informed that the Navy had not received its invitation and was not prepared to respond to questions.
The House of Representatives decided to probe the planned concession on December 7, after some civil society organisations petitioned the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, over it.
Chairman of the Public Petitions Committee, Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, noted that the petitioners questioned the merit behind giving the concession for the management and provision of security of the waterways to an Israeli security firm when the country had statutory agencies such as the Navy and NIMASA.
In similar vein, maritime stakeholders have expressed shock at how the Federal Government is ‘wasting resources’, seeking to lead other maritime nations of the West and Central Africa, when the country’s port access roads could not be fixed in over 10 years, and have become a death trap.
A London-based Nigerian maritime analyst, Donald Adebola, said Nigeria cannot, as things are today, claim to have a maritime industry. He said, today, Nigeria is treated as a war zone by marine insurers, adding that ship owners are allowing their ships to come to Nigeria because of the huge profit they stand to make for daring to venture into the ‘war zone.’
“It is a rip-off on Nigerians and it is because Nigerians have a government that is not alive to its responsibilities,” he said.
And in a related development, Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, at a recent meeting of industry stakeholders in Lagos, said that the Buhari administration would find all possible solutions to end the gridlock at Apapa, Lagos. It was against this backdrop that he directed that the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) implement clear objectives to tackle the Apapa gridlock.
To this end, Dangote Group, Flour Mills Nigeria and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), have started reconstructing the six kilometers Apapa Road. It was disclosed that they are doing this as their corporate social responsibility (CSR), which will be completed in June/July 2018.
Also, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has announced that the Dangote Group has won the concession to complete the reconstruction of the Lagos-Oshodi Expressway.
The Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, said the NPA would constitute a strong taskforce to address the issue.
Former Director General of NIMASA, Ferdinand Agu, who has expressed his disappointment over the state of insecurity in the Nigerian maritime domain and slow pace of development of the sector, said: “Politicians do not have a clear idea of what the maritime sector is all about. Unfortunately, these are the people running the industry, which is a very serious international business that determines the economic cum military powers of nations.”
But, both Fashola and Usman have assured that most of the problems bedeviling the Nigerian maritime industry, specifically at the Lagos ports axis, would be tackled in a holistic way; not only to fix the problem, but also to support the Federal Government’s Ease of Doing Business reforms.
Private sector stakeholders, including the President, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; Chairman, Honeywell Group, Dr. Oba Otudeko, and the Chairman, BUA Group, Alhaji Abdulsamad Rabiu, were present at the meeting called to find ways to tackle the problems. Sunday Telegraph learnt that they pledged their commitments towards immediate solution to the problems.
The stakeholders posit that the maritime industry remains the nation’s goldmine and should be handled with professionalism and as a serious business, devoid of jaundiced political preferences; it holds the ace for national security and economic growth.

Source: New telegraph