The director-general, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Bashir Jamoh, has said countries in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG), have lost over $793.7 million to piracy as of 2016.
Jamoh who made this disclosure at the chief of naval staff annual conference (CONSAC) in Kano state, bemoaned the huge economic losses incurred in the Gulf of Guinea as a result of the activities of pirates, saying it was greater than Asian countries which he put at $4.5 million.
In his paper presentation at the conference titled, “Enhancing collaboration amongst stakeholders for improved maritime security in Nigeria,” the NIMASA boss, therefore, called for enhanced stakeholder collaboration in tackling maritime security challenges in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea.
Drawing from terrorist attacks of 9-11 on American soil and the report of the 9-11 commission indicting security agencies for failing to share real-time intelligence, Jamoh 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.
He observed that despite the rich potentials of the maritime sector in the areas of job creation and revenue generation, and its vital role in facilitating more than 90 per cent of world trade through shipping, the sector was undermined by maritime insecurity.
The NIMASA DG identified sources through which insecurity led to the loss of revenue in the maritime sector as ransom payment, insurance premiums, re-routing ships, security equipment, losses to the oil and fishing industry, and cost of security escort.
Jamoh 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 globalisation; 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 require that all concerned should collaborate to tackle this menace.”
Drawing examples from other climes, like the Regional Cooperation Agreement on combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP), the NIMASA boss stressed how stakeholder collaboration had been used to tackle maritime insecurity.
He identified the five clusters of Nigerian maritime collaboration as the Armed Forces/National Security Group (Army, Navy, Air Force, etc); Non-Military Services (Customs, Police, Immigration, NDLEA etc); Agencies with Incidental Functions (NAFDAC, NNPC, DPR, etc); Regulatory Agencies (NIMASA, NESREA, NOSDRA, NIWA etc); and the Disaster Management Agencies (NEMA).
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; and strengthening of the Navies of the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) region.
Others are: 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.
Jamoh 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 the 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,” Dr Jamoh stated.
The NIMASA boss was honoured at the event by the chief of naval staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, for ensuring civil-military cohesion.