Stakeholders in Nigeria’s maritime industry have made a strong case for both regional and sub-regional synergy among countries in the Gulf of Guinea to fight the worsening cases of insecurity in the region, saying that incidences of maritime crimes ranging from attacks on vessels, oil theft to kidnaping were assuming a worrisome dimension.

In a 17-point communiqué issued at the end of2019 edition of the International Maritime Organisation’s World Maritime Day celebration with the theme: “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community,” held in Lagos, last week, the stakeholders called for a strong collaboration among member states of the Gulf of Guinea and beyond to combat maritime insecurity.

They noted that such synergy had become urgent and necessary given that the region has earned the notoriety of accounting the highest number of attacks on vessels worldwide, according to recent statistics released by the International Maritime Bureau IMB, an organ of the International Chamber of Commerce ICC.

According to the stakeholders, there is urgent need to institute and promote a National Standing Committee on Maritime Insecurity in the country. They also called for capacity building and enhancement programmes to provide the right skills to confront maritime security challenges.

The communiqué reads in part: “There is urgent need for regional and sub-regional synergy aimed at combating maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea that has attained the notoriety of having the highest number of attacks on vessels worldwide.

“In order to mitigate the issues of insecurity, there is urgent need to sustain continuous engagement with world maritime stakeholders with a view to checkmating this economic sabotage”.

On the main theme of the celebration, the stakeholders also made a strong case for the training of women towards enhancing professionalism to enable them work on board merchant vessels. They also called on ship owners in Nigeria to configure their vessels to accommodate women seafarers.    

“There is urgent need to evolve mechanisms in policy making for gender equality to enable women get to the peak of their career in the maritime industry. There is also need for women associations and organisations to re-strategise to promote and enhance women’s participation in the maritime industry.

“There is need to encourage the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA’s capacity building initiatives that promote the study of Nautical Sciences. That Nigeria should adopt South Africa’s principle of ‘Sisters at Sea’ to further boost women’s participation in seafaring”, the stakeholders also recommended.

Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amechi had while speaking at the event said that the only way women can take their pride of place in the shipping industry in Nigeria is to adequately develop themselves and be competitive with their male counterparts rather than asking for empowerment.

According to the Minister, appointments to strategic positions not only in the maritime industry but also in most segments of the economy are not based on the sex of the person being appointed but more about the class and abilities the person possesses, saying that there are hundred millions of men and women who are dying of hunger not because of their sexes but because they lack certain abilities.

Meanwhile, chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, Lynda Ikpeazu, while speaking at the event, had said that the bottom-line of the matter is for women to rise and take what belongs to them instead of complaining and lamenting.

She argued that no one gives you power unless you rise and grab it yourself and therefore urged women to be more focused and diligent in all their endeavours.

Minister of State for Transport, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, while speaking at the event also called for increased amount of scholarships and mentorship programmes to boost female participation in the shipping industry.

She however admitted that some aspects of ports, shipping and allied operations are very physically demanding and challenging for the women, but said that with persistence, the women can achieve increased participation in the male-dominated industry.