Potential Security Challenges in Nigerian Ports - Paper Example

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University of California, Santa Barbara
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In the 21st century, 80 percent of the worlds trade occurs through the sea across the globe hence signifying the essence of the role it plays in facilitating economic development of most nations such as Nigeria. Over the past few years, trade carried out through the sea has encountered significant threats based on activities such as piracy. These threats include cargo theft, criminal activities, corruption, terrorism, and trafficking, economic espionage, just to mention but a few. The impact obtained from these threats entails devastating outcomes which largely affect the security situation in nations such as Nigeria. The various measures employed in tackling insecurity especially in Nigeria have imperatively focused on determining and identifying its causes and sources. The term security comprises of various definitions developed by researchers and analysts based on its suitability to the desired purpose. On the one hand, some have defined the term as the assurance of feeling of safety, the absence of fear and certainty of a good life or welfare. On the other hand, others have described security as the freedom from apprehension, danger, care intimidation and the guarantee of peace of mind (Amujiri and Agu, 2012). Nevertheless, these definitions represent one of the vital objectives and certainly the primary responsibility of every government to any nation. For instance, the Nigerian Constitution unequivocally stipulates that the fundamental objective of the government entails ensuring security and welfare of its people. However, in the recent past, Nigeria has encountered unprecedented levels of insecurity due to factors associated with trade activities at the various ports in the country (Akpotor and Oromareghake, 2013). These factors have largely contributed towards the issue of national security becoming a fundamental aspect of the Nigerian government through necessitating prompt allocation of a large portion of the countrys budget to defense.

According to research, determination of the rates of crime in Nigeria has driven the federal government towards embarking on the criminalization of terrorist activities through the enactment of the Anti-terrorism Act (Naanen and Nyiayaana, 2013). These have been coupled with initiatives such as the installation of CCTV cameras in major parts of the nation, intensification of investigations conducted on crime-related offenses and improvement of surveillance. Additionally, the federal government has focused on activities such as enhancement of physical security measures throughout the country with the aim of identifying and combating potential attacks. These measures have also focused on strengthening the security agencies by providing them with facilities as well as tips on development through mass media (Akpotor and Oromareghake, 2013). Nonetheless, regardless of the measures employed, security levels in Nigeria have continuously deteriorated thus leading to a low ranking in the Global Peace Index.

Table 1: Ranking on the Global Peace Index of Nigeria and other countries in West Africa

S/N Country GPI Score (2009) GPI


(2009) GPI Score

(2010) GPI


(2010) GPI Score

(2011) GPI


(2011) GPI


(2012) GPI



1 Ghana 1.76 52 1.78 48 1.75 42 1.81 50

2 Sierra Leone - - 1.82 53 1.90 61 1.86 52

3 Burkina Faso 1.91 71 1.85 - 1.83 51 1.88 56

4 Gambia - - - 79 1.91 62 1.96 74

5 Senegal 1.98 80 2.03 - 2.05 77 1.99 78

6 Guinea - - - - 2.13 92 2.07 92

7 Guinea Bissau - - - - - 2.11 95 8 Liberia - - 2.15 99 2.16 97 2.13 101

9 Mali 2.09 96 2.24 109 2.19 100 2.13 102

10 Benin - - - - - - 2.23 114

11 Niger - - - - 2.36 119 2.24 116

12 Mauritania 2.48 124 2.39 123 2.43 130 2.30 125

13 CotdIvoire 2.34 117 2.30 118 2.42 128 2.42 134

14 Nigeria 2.60 129 2.76 137 2.74 142 2.80 146

Source: (Robert-Okah, 2014)

Some of the factors affecting the security of a nation emanate from internal and external attributes that threaten its stability. The external characteristics include factors brought about by other countries through the interaction in activities such as trade. Most of the business activities carried out through the world (80 percent) occurs through the sea thus representing more than 100,000 merchant vessels and about 7 billion tons of cargo annually (Phenson, Ojie, and Esin, 2014). Recently, International Communities involved in sea trade have come across major criminal activities that affect their operations. These activities include piracy, terrorism, trafficking, among others. For instance, over the last decade, maritime operators across the African waters have experienced intensive attacks especially along the coast of Nigeria. Researchers in this topic have avowed insecurity in marine operations across Africa and mostly in the Nigerian waters has significantly increased at an alarming rate hence threatening the flow of goods and services across global shipping lines (Kusi, 2015). Resultantly, insecurity in the Nigerian ports has brought about adverse effects to the economic growth of the nation and the entire African continent. Most importantly, the security issues facing Nigerian ports include militant maritime activities, piracy, and terrorism prevalent along the Niger Delta coastline (Phenson, Ojie, and Esin, 2014). Moreover, these issues range from robbery and poaching within the ports to attacks on ships and offshore facilities. Some have escalated to the extent of the hijacking of vessels for ransom particularly in the areas neighboring the Niger Delta such as Bayelsa, Oron-Calabar, and Opobo-Andoni among others.

According to research, the parties mainly affected by criminal activities in the Nigerian ports include sea business operators especially fishing trawlers, petty traders and speedboat operators. The effects occur as a result of frequent attacks which affect the fishing activities thus leading to a reduction of the number of trawlers at the ports (Orji, 2012). Additionally, the effects obtained include significant challenges and immense costs incurred on the local fishing economies in Nigeria. Further studies accentuate that piracy in Nigeria and across the Gulf of Guinea have led to losses amounting to about $600 million regarding fishing exports and above 2 trillion annually in capital flight to international economies (Ayodele, 2011). Therefore, based on these facts, the insecurity issues facing Nigeria ports bring about the necessity for an obstinate obligation to implement measures aimed at safeguarding the territorial waters against potential threats such as poaching, piracy, sea robbery and other criminal activities along the ports of Nigeria. The achievement of such objectives will occur through the analysis of the potential security challenges and various ways of combating them. The will be followed closely by the determination of the security preventive measures taken by different ports. Similarly, it will require an in-depth description of the respective roles and responsibilities of the port authority and facility security officer in ensuring maritime defense. Lastly, it will focus on examining the existing measures in place in the Nigerian ports.

Security Risks in Nigerian Ports and Ways of Combating Them

The principles applied in ensuring internal security describe the essential components that govern the management of the stability within a nation. According to research, these principles aim at answering how and why management of internal security may be achieved. Nonetheless, based on research, Nigeria lacks a clear definition of their national security principles. Additionally, the nation has successively neglected the internal security policies through little or lack of evolution in their policies (Robert-Okah, 2014). Resultantly, the measures employed in tackling internal security issues focus on responding to similar coercive and conservative power politics principles. However, these principles have for years been applied to the wider issues that entail national and global defense. In an interview with the Health and Safety officer at the Nigerian Ports Authority, he stipulated that Nigeria becomes a victim to the coercive and conservative approach used in managing internal security. Contrastingly, the adoption of a positive non-coercive approach aims at removing the main causes of discontent and internal conflict through the minimization of socio-economic adversities and inequalities (Temitope, 2015). These factors have contributed towards the deterioration of Nigerias security especially at the ports because they focus on an excessive manifestation of the coercive principle in managing internal security issues.

Globally, the maritime issues that threaten the security of a nation include illegal trafficking, oil exploration, offshore fishing, and dumping. They also include piracy, sea robbery, and hijacking as well as the unauthorized disposition of toxic and radioactive waste into the water. The coastal lines of Africa face these challenges as a result of global trade which brings about drug and weapons smugglers, counterfeit goods as well as pollution (Temitope, 2015). For instance, armed robbery in Nigeria has consistently increased over the years especially based on issues regarding oil. Research indicates that armed robbery and other related crimes have driven almost all Nigerians to secure high walled fences and barricades around their houses as a way of safeguarding their lives and property (Ayodele, 2011). The increase in the instances of armed robbery in Nigerian ports may be attributed to porous borders, weak security systems and the incapacitation of institutions within the country. Additionally, insecurity within the ports has led to devastating outcomes internally thus affecting the stability of the nation as a whole (Kusi, 2015). Moreover, the consistent increase in instances of piracy, unauthorized disposal of waste, illegal bunkering and hijacking for ransom comprise a significant source of concern to the maritime administrative entities in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea. They bring about security threats and vulnerabilities to maritime activities such as transport and trade.

Besides, some of the major potential challenges associated with insecurity at the ports and maritime activities in Nigeria bring about significant effects on business operations with the nations sub-sector economy. According to research conducted in 2013, numerous instances of pirate attacks along the waters of Nigeria and the Bayelsa State have been reported (Bala, 2013). These have been coupled with reports issued by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) rating the coastal lines bordering Lagos and Bonny as one of the most vulnerable areas for pirate attacks across the world. These reports further accentuate that in 2013 more than 22 incidents of piracy were recorded in Nigeria and Benin thus marking the highest number encountered on the coast of West Africa (Robert-Okah, 2014). Most of the pirate attacks experienced have targeted oil tankers and cargo vessels transporting the product to other parts of the world as well as fishing trawlers and speedboats ferrying people from different destinations. For instance, incidents reported in 2013 indicated that most of the speedboats attacked were ferrying people along the Nembe water in Bayelsa State. Similarly, these reports have shown that pirate attacks were encountered in incidents involving four-speed boats ferrying traders to Yenagoa (Phenson, Ojie, and Esin, 2014). The passengers aboard the speedboats were instructed by the bandits to jump off the vessels after their valuable possessions were stolen.

The incidents mentioned above bring about devastating scenarios encountered in the maritime operations thus revealing the level of insecurity in the Nigeri...

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