A foremost maritime analyst, Capt. Solomon Abiodun Omoteso has advised the Federal Government against fighting piracy from the sea, stressing that hungry youths who have nothing constructive to do on land would always find their ways to sea to operate, no matter the degree of weapons or measures adopted, to deter them.
Omoteso, a maritime guru and former Consultant to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) indicated this, even as he stressed the need for a massive support of the Buhari’s Government to enable Nigerians obtain the best from his focused and determined commitment to the cause of uplifting the country.
“If you can stop them by creating wealth for them on land, then you would have effectively discouraged their wandering towards the sea to commit piracy or armed robbery”, he stated, adding that while procuring armoured personnel carriers and equipping the police may be effective in fighting crimes on land, “when it comes to the sea, it is a different ball game”.
He urged the government to critically appraise what it could do for the people in the riverine areas, particularly their youths, explaining that with the nature of the creeks, and the dwindling fortunes of the area, with money being over concentrated in few hands, the zone for now may remain vulnerable for the production of adventurous youths, who could take to piracy, from time to time.
“Piracy is not a predominant problem of Africa; what has piracy got in common in Africa? It is only in the Gulf of Guinea. It is not in South Africa; it is not in East Africa. And when you are looking at the maritime characteristic of piracy, you will discover that piracy is only a function of poverty!
“What is happening in North Africa is different from what is happening in East Africa; or like what is happening in West Africa. The only common characteristic is that the youths of each zone want to constructively engage their energy!” he stated, noting that once the youths’ energy could not be productively utilized, it moves towards other areas where it could be harnessed.
“Piracy is not even a problem all over Nigeria. It is only a problem within a limited area of the Gulf of Guinea. It is not in South Africa and it is not in East Africa. Piracy is not in Senegal. Neither is it in Sierra Leone.
“The piracy we are all talking about is in the Gulf of Guinea and it is poverty oriented”, he highlighted further; pointing out that the youths in North Africa were more concerned with how to sneak into Europe as illegal immigrants.
“So, if you want to fight piracy, all you need to do is take a good look at the youths in the area and see how you can harness their energy. They are the ones who can take the boat and go to sea, perpetuate piracy and then come back.
“If you look around the globe today, wherever piracy occurs, it is usually a poverty area. It occurs easily when people cannot easily feed.
“You have piracy in Somali, in Indian Ocean; but then it is the poverty area. All these piracy…piracy; they are perpetuated by youths. They already have their boats. All they need is the guns. But then, you must understand that the moment they hit their target, they come back ashore again!”, he said, adding that anyone who meet their needs on land would have significantly reduced their forage into the sea.
Tasked to explain how the menace could be tackled, Omoteso said the Federal Government must work more closely with the local governments and the community leaders of the riverine areas, with the sole aim of ensuring a more prudent management of their resources, identifying needs and multiplying available windows of employment opportunities.

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