Lawmakers move to improve Nigerian maritime security

Lawan Hamidu, Abuja

Maritime security

The Nigerian House of Representatives says there is need for synergy among the stakeholders in the maritime industry, to strengthen the security of the territorial waters.

Speaker House of Representatives Mr. Yakubu Dogara made this known in Abuja, at a-one day public hearing to amend bills which include; Maritime Operation Act, reconstituting the Maritime Operations Co-coordinating Board for effective control of all maritime operations, the Exclusive Economic Zone and the creation of Maritime Security Fund.

“It is even more worrisome that Nigeria is losing about N7 trillion annually in the Maritime sector due to leakages in revenue generation and insecurity on the water ways…For instance, between January and March 2016, several attacks were reported on Nigeria’s coast which involved pirates stealing cargoes of crude oil and petroleum products.

Reports had it that, no fewer than 44 ship crew members were abducted. In the first half of this year, about over 20 commercial vessels were attacked. The increasing level of attacks and violence occurring in the Gulf of Guinea had given Nigeria and other countries in the sub-region a negative image in addition to an estimated monthly loss of $1.5billion to the country,” Mr. Dogara said.

He expressed concern over the insecurity in the Nigerian Waters, which led to the loss of over one point three billion Dollars and about seven trillion Naira annually.

Insecurity in Nigeria’s waters
“Prevalence of insecurity in our waters resulted in the loss of $1.3 billion annually to illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in West Africa alone yearly. We must tighten the legal and regulatory framework to curb these losses. The only way to promote intra-African trade on our water ways is to ensure safety and security of navigation on our waters.
 

“What is disturbing is that pirate attacks in West Africa are said to be occurring on our territorial waters, terminals and harbours and not on the high seas which effectively prevented intervention by international naval forces,” the Speaker stressed.

Explaining the importance of Maritime Sector to the Nation’s economic growth, Mr. Dogara said the National Assembly would provide the necessary legislation to address the security challenges in the Maritime Sector.

The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibot Ekwe Ibas says Nigeria’s national interests in the maritime environment are being threatened leading to the loss of trillions of Naira.

“Going by the report of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigeria loses $6.70 billion annually as against the income of $67.18 billion within a five-year period of 2012 to 2016.

The report, did not present other factors in such incidents to include loss of employment, collapse of local businesses, disincentives to investments and the estimated annual loss of $1 billion due to illegal fishing, and an average yearly cost of $3.65 billion to crude oil theft,” Admiral Ibas stated. 

Poor budgetary provision
He decried poor budgetary provision for the Navy over the years, saying that it required just a little fraction of the amount lost to insecurity to enhance its operations and block leakages.

However, the Director General of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, Mr. Dakuku Peterside faulted the move to establish the maritime security fund, saying it would be a duplication of the duties of the agency.

The public hearing is part of inclusive legislative activities to support government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan to effectively pull Nigeria from recession to recovery.

Mercy Chukwudiebere