Following claims by the international community that it has substantially addressed sea piracy in the Gulf of Aden,¬†Nigeria¬†now risks taking over from Somalia as the worst state in terms of piracy.
This, it is feared, would further push up insurance premiums charged on¬†Nigeria-bound goods, just as maritime industry operators warn that such rating could triple the risk premium on goods, aside other dire implications.
Already, Olugbenga Oyewole, senior special assistant to President¬†Goodluck Jonathan¬†on Maritime Services hinted in an interview with **Daily Independent** earlier in the week estimated that additional cost of importing cars compared with neighbouring Cotonou could be up to N6 billion daily.
Giving a breakdown, he explained: ‚ÄúIf care is not taken, and if we leave things to continue the way they are going, with the international community saying they have addressed piracy substantially, what that means is that¬†Nigeria¬†will now be the number one insecure nation maritime-wise as it is currently the number two.‚Äù
Oyewole added that should¬†Nigeria¬†be rated number one, ‚ÄúIt won‚Äôt be too long when they will take up the insurance again and Nigerians will pay more. Nigerians pay not less than $15 million on daily basis on goods that come into the country, which will ultimately impact on market prices because of some obnoxious tag that our waters is not safe.‚Äù
According to him, for instance, ‚Äúa car imported to Cotonou will pay about $300 dollars less than a car imported to Nigeria. So if you look at a ship that carries about 5000 cars; 300 multiplied by 5,000¬†cars is $1.5 million (about N237 million). On a daily basis, we have about 25 ships approaching Nigeria, so if all these ships carry cars for example, that means $1.5 million times 25 ships (about N5.925 billion) is what we have lost for that day. It is enormous money for any economy, and why? This is because of some obnoxious tag that our water is not safe,‚Äù he said.
Analysts in the nation‚Äôs maritime industry agree that the implication of such is huge, more so, when considered against the backdrop of Nigeria‚Äôs import dependent nature despite its huge population.
The nation records very high cargo inflow, accounting for over 70 percent of goods imported into the West and Central African sub region annually, according to¬†government¬†sources.
Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Ziakede Akpobolokemi rather blames the nation‚Äôs current piracy rating on ‚Äòinternational conspiracy,‚Äôto justify all the obnoxious policies negatively affecting Nigerians in international trade.
Sea piracy has long been considered the scourge of commercial shipping in the Indian Ocean. Recently, however, a combination of¬†government¬†and private sector-led action has led to a drop in the number of pirate attacks in the region to its lowest levels in almost five years, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).
Robust cooperation among international navies is also believed to have played a key role in greatly changed the tide, with regular naval patrols led by Operation Ocean Shield of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the European Union‚Äôs Operation Atlanta, and Combined Task Force 151, have undoubtedly foiled several pirate attacks.
China, India and Japan have also independently contributed to this effort. The three countries agreed to set aside their rivalries and coordinate their escort convoys in the Gulf of Aden, in a significant move at the start of 2012.
The Nigerian Trawler Owners Association (NITOA) drew attention of the world to the menace called piracy and sea robbery within Nigeria‚Äôs territorial waters. Criminal activities became a means of livelihood for hoodlums, miscreants and militants across the length and breadth of the¬†Niger Delta¬†and Lagos regions.
The local and international statistics are scary enough to underscore the economic and social dangers that are faced by victims of piracy or sea robbery.
Meanwhile, the United Nations (U.N) Security Council is preparing to consider a report on Somalia from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that includes options and recommendations for a future U.N. role in the country.
U.N. special envoy to Somalia Augustine Philip Mahiga said in a recent **VOA** interview, that the U.N. intends to adjust to what he called the ‚Äúnew realities‚Äù in Somalia.
In this new reality, he believes, the¬†UN¬†‚Äúhas to stand beside and behind the¬†government¬†and to mobilise international resources and support and use its good offices to facilitate the objectives of the¬†government.‚Äù
In late January, a top U.N. official said Somalia is beginning to undergo a ‚Äúprofound transformation.‚Äù
For example, during a visit to Mogadishu, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman praised the government its peace and reconciliation efforts.
Somalia went for more than 20 years without a stable central government until the¬†UN-backed efforts to form a new government succeeded last year. Within the past year, the country has approved a new constitution, selected a new parliament as well as a president and prime minister.