The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA has revealed that the Gulf of Guinea region lost a whooping $793.7million to piracy and other maritime crimes in 2016 alone,
NIMASA insists that while the economic cost of the scourge is very pronounced for Nigeria, which constitutes a very significant portion of the region, it is far less compared to other countries.
The Gulf of Guinea region is made up of the maritime area located in the western part of the African continent. It includes eight countries bordering the Atlantic Ocean comprising Nigeria, Ghana, Togo and the Republic of Benin. Others are Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe; with Angola and Congo as newest entrants.
The agency also noted that the economic cost of piracy activity in Asia as against that of the Gulf of Guinea.was estimated at $4.5 million in 2016, which is far less than $793.7m for the region.
Director-General of the agency, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, made these revelations in a paper presentation entitled: “Enhancing Collaboration amongst Stakeholders for Improved Maritime Security in Nigeria” at the just concluded Chief of Naval Staff Annual Conference CONSAC in Kano, the Kano State capital.
He attributed the huge progress recorded in terms of reducing the scourge of piracy and other maritime crimes to barest minimum in the region to the synergy among relevant stakeholders; a development that calls for greater collaboration in tackling maritime security challenges not only in Nigeria but also across the Gulf of Guinea region.
Dr Jamoh, who cited the 9-11 terrorists’ attack on the United States as well as the report of the 9-11 Commission, which indicted security agencies for failing to share real-time intelligence, urged Nigerian stakeholders to ‘learn to share their toys’ in a bid to close the gaps and tighten the security ring around the nation’s maritime space against piracy and other maritime crimes.
“Despite the rich potential of the maritime sector in the areas of job creation and revenue generation, and its vital role in facilitating more than 90 percent of world trade through shipping, the sector was undermined by maritime insecurity.
“The economic cost of maritime insecurity is very pronounced for Nigeria compared to other countries. While the economic cost of piracy activity in Asia was estimated at $4.5 million as of 2016, the estimated economic cost of maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea was about $793.7 million”, he said.
The NIMASA DG highlighted some sources through which insecurity had led to loss of revenue in the maritime sector as ransom payment, insurance premiums, re-routing ships, security equipment, losses to oil and fishing industry, and cost of security escort.
He also said: “Studies have identified the following factors as the drivers of maritime insecurity in the region. They include an increase in ship traffic as a result of globalizsation; the debilitating leadership of many of the states in the region; the proliferation of small arms; poor monitoring and control of the oceans; and criminality, which have been further aggravated by visible youth unemployment.
“High level of poverty, and economic hardship were also listed as causative factors. The impacts of these challenges are far-reaching and requires that all concerned should collaborate to tackle this menace.”
Drawing examples from other climes such as the Regional Cooperation Agreement on combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia’s (ReCAAP) he stressed how stakeholder collaboration had been used to tackle maritime insecurity, the NIMASA helmsman explained that there are five clusters of Nigerian maritime collaborations, which include the Armed Forces/National Security Group (Army, Navy, Air Force, etc); Non-Military Services (Customs, Police, Immigrations, NDLEA etc); Agencies with Incidental Functions (NAFDAC, NNPC, DPR, etc); Regulatory Agencies (NIMASA, NESREA, NOSDRA, NIWA etc); and the Disaster Management Agencies (NEMA).
Dr. Jamoh listed some collaborative efforts by NIMASA to address maritime insecurity to include the implementation of the Deep Blue project; the enactment of the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences SPOMO Act 2019; community engagements; strengthening of the Navies of the Gulf of Guinea region; collaboration with CEOs of maritime industry organisations, known as the Joint Maritime Industry Working Group JMIWG; engagements with security forces (Nigerian Navy, Army, Airforce, Police, Customs, Immigration); and the Gulf of Guinea-Maritime Collaboration Forum/Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (GoG-MCF/SHADE).
He further stated that NIMASA was collaborating with the International Maritime Organisation IMO, INTERPOL, regional organisations, shipping operators, as well as private security companies, submarine cable operators, and seafarers’ organisations to address the challenges.
The NIMASA-boss called for the deployment of more resources for technical assistance to facilitate capacity building and expansion of automation systems for monitoring the maritime sector. He said this would enhance the country’s capacity for cooperation against trans-national maritime crime and terrorism with potentials to adopt a more participatory approach to maritime security.
“Working together is, therefore, a most vital approach to defend our seas, enhance maritime security, promote trade, protect the environment, and guarantee the quality of life of our people,” he stated further.
A highpoint of the event was the honouring of the NIMASA DG by the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo for ensuring civil -military cohesion.