The rise in maritime crimes especially in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) has been identified.
These maritime crimes include piracy and oil theft have been on a steady increase in recent times making ships calling in Nigeria’s seaports to pay more.
A former President of the Maritime Reporters’ Association of Nigeria (MARAN) and Publisher of one of the leading maritime industry publications, Shipping Position Daily, Mr. Sesan Onileimo attributed the cause of the steady increase in the maritime crimes to the unemployment of seafarers, especially those churned out by the National Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA and the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, MAN in Oron, Akwa Ibom State.
Onilemo stated this as one of the panelists during a panel discussion at the just concluded maiden MARAN Annual Maritime Lecture (MAMAL 2023) which took place at Rockview Hotel, Apapa, Lagos recently.
While expressing concern over the mass of unemployed youths in the country, particularly those produced under the auspices of the NSDP and MAN, Oron, the season maritime journalist argued that these unemployed graduates have become willing tools for maritime insecurity.
His words: “There’s a mass of unemployed youth that the society has foisted on us, an idle hand is a willing tool. And I would like to look at this from two angles. There are two categories of unemployed willing youths: the ones trained by NIMASA under its National Seafarers Development Programme who were trained, qualified with or without CoC but waiting to have something to do. They are there. They want to be active but no opportunities to do so. They are the tools that are being used to foment trouble.
“The second leg of this menace is the boys and girls who are trained locally. Some of them are trained at Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron, but there are those that are trained even in Agege here who wear uniforms so much so like that of the Navy. They are equipped and recruited into that business that has turned out to be a source of threat to our maritime environment”.
Continuing, he said: “I am saying this because in the course of my years as a maritime journalist, I have had a course to interact with a few of them. If you go to Liverpool here, I am sure the Maritime Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MWUN) will bear me witness; the boys and girls who graduated from Oron, who have turned out to be canoe boys, were not trained in Oron to be handling canoe and boats but there is no job for them. These are the same boys who had five years of training but afterwards, there is no job. Take that guy to Niger Delta, he is ready to do anything for as long as the money is available”.