By Frank Odinukaeze
Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea(GoG) has become a recurring decimal.It has almost become a constant ritual that happens frequently .
Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea affects a number of countries in West Africa including Nigeria as well as the wider international community. According to reports in 2011, piracy had become an issue of global concern.
Pirates in the Gulf of Guinea are often part of heavily armed criminal enterprises, who employ violent methods to steal oil cargo.In 2012, the International Maritime Bureau, Oceans Beyond Piracy and the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Program reported that the number of vessels attack by West African pirates had reached a world high, with 966 seafarers attacked during the year.
According to the Control Risks Group, pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea had by mid-November 2013 maintained a steady level of around 100 attempted hijackings in the year, a close second behind the Strait of Malacca in Southeast Asia.
The latest International Maritime Bureau (IMB) half year report ,2022 says piracy at the Gulf of Guinea had reduced significantly but not completely
Meanwhile experts have been speaking on the role of government and the possible reasons of piracy attacks particularly at the GoG.
In 2020,out of the 135 reported cases of piracy attacks globally,130 of them took place at the GoG.
According to Captain Alfred Oniye ,an American trained Certified maritime security and intelligence officer,and British African Regional Head for private investigation and intelligence agency, unemployment plays a major role in the reason why people engage in crimes like piracy.
“Give this people job and you will see that this madness will stop.All this criminality will reduce drastically.Most of them don’t even like the job they are doing.Some of them don’t have choice.They have family to feed .Some of them have mothers , fathers , wives , children and younger ones that they are taking care of.Some of them can’t even go back home again because of shame of no job.So they’ve got to survive.” Capt Oniye said.
He faulted the purchase of military jet fighters and other hardwares to combat piracy , describing it as needless and a waste of funds.
In his words,”The money you use in buying jet fighters,why not put the money to better use by buying training ships and give them to Nigerian indigenous ship owners and shipping companies.Give them money to buy more ships to employ Nigerian Seafarers.When you train people to be professional and you don’t give them job,they will use their professionalism for illegal acts.
“We sailed this creek before we got international assignment.I know this creek in and out.So when I’m talking , I’m very practical about it.I am a certified private investigator,with Ph.D in intelligence.So I know what I’m saying”.
Capt. Oniye noted that the solution to the the problem of piracy is a proactive approach not the purchase of jet fighters.
“So buying jet fighter ,who are you going to use your jet to fight? Give the money to indigenous ship owners to buy more ships.Compel them to employ Nigerians.Bring more cadets on board.Employ more of Nigerian seafarers.Secondly,any vessel trading on Nigerian waters,compel them to do this.We have the Cabotage Law,and remove the waiver.If we do this,we will be able to reduce piracy completely.Accordong to military strategy, negotiation is one of the best weapons or strategy in fighting crime.You look at the source of the crime.Why is this thing happening?When you don’t tackle the source ,all you focus is the shadow of the thing.Therefore using jet fighter is not the best approach, because you don’t know what they are cooking behind.You need to uproot the real madness which is unemployment”
In his own reaction, President of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN),Dr.Mkgeorge Onyung, noted that” What concerns the ship owners now is the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF).The more of our ships that are operating the better for our economy.There is no reason why the CVFF fund should not be disbursed now.This is the time to do that.Because everybody is benefiting from the deep blue project.” He added that ” Our duty is to improve people and improve the economy”.
A highly placed maritime source confided in MMS Plus that there was a carefully prepared blue print to make the maritime industry the envy of other nations and equally reduce the incidences of piracy and other issues that affect shipping business in Nigeria but was only waiting for presidential nod.”We had a strategy very clear core strategy and the only person that can sign that strategy is Mr.President.Once Mr President says I agree with your strategy,then we are good to go.We would need to implement it .All we just need is his acceptance”he said.
It would be recalled that the immediate past transport minister, Gbemi Saraki,during her visit to Lagos ports,had promised to disburse the Cabotage funds,unfortunately she never did as she was redeployed