Maritime experts have highlighted some steps the government can take in order to tackle piracy attacks on Nigerian waters.
This is coming few days after the inauguration of the $195m Deep Blue Project by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.
A scholar of maritime history at the University of Lagos, Prof. Ayodeji Olukoju, said in an interview with our correspondent, “From studies that we have on piracy, pirates do not live 100 per cent on water. They are human beings who live on land but had cause to take to sea robbery.
“If a country is well-governed, if you have youths that are well employed, if you have an economy that is well-managed, and if you have social and environmental justice, you are likely to have safer waterways.”
Olukoju, who is the pro-chancellor of Chrisland University, said the Nigerian pirates were encouraged by the ostentatious lifestyles of some politicians.
“They can see that people are living large without working hard. If you have a situation of ostentatious and inequitable display of wealth, you are going to have a pool of aggrieved people. It is natural that insecurity will be bred in such fertile grounds,” he said.
According to him, there are hardware and software of security management.
Olukoju said, “The hardware is acquiring weapons, boats, and aircraft. But there is also the software; you talk to the people, engage them because an idle hand is the devil’s workshop. There has to be an integrated approach to maritime security management.”
He emphasised that the relevant agencies, National Inland Waterways Authority and the Nigerian Maritime and Administrative Safety Agency, should pay attention to the software approach.
He said this would curb the perennial security votes without any results.
Olukoju advised that government, both at the federal and state levels, should study how pirates were recruited.
He said, “Formal seafarers, what does the government do about their welfare? If they are young and they cannot get regular employment, they certainly will go rogue.
“The ones that you trained and do not have vessels that will engage them, what are you doing about those ones. It is not enough to train new ones; you also think of the ones that you have trained.”
Also speaking, the President, Nigerian Institute of Shipping, Capt. Tony Onoharigho, highlighted the problem of unemployment in the country, saying, “These pirates are our people – Nigerians who are jobless.”