The chairman of the Nigeria Shipowners Association, Captain Niyi Labinjo, told Nigerian media that the piracy situation in the Gulf of Guinea is fueled in part by unemployed maritime cadets who have not gained the onboard practical training required to complete their education.
Onboard training is required for the program at the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), he said, and that without an opportunity to finish it, cadets were left frustrated and without work.
“Cadets of MAN who graduated six to 15 years ago have no jobs. So what do you want to do with the new people you are training? You are going to make them hijackers, sea pirates. That is why the issue of sea piracy cases is very high because the boys we trained have no jobs,” he told Nigeria’s Vanguard paper.
“Those who graduated many years back have no jobs because they have no place to do the industrial training, and therefore, cannot continue. Look at all those Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA had trained under its National Seafarers Development Programm, NSDP. They have returned and have nowhere to do their sea time. They are walking the streets.”
Piracy off Nigeria is serious; there were eight boardings, one hijacking and and five attempted hijackings last year, the IMB reported in its 2015 annual review.
“In many past incidents, pirates had hijacked the vessels for several days, ransacked them and stolen part of the cargo, usually gas oil. A number of crew members were also injured and attacked in times past. Generally, all waters in and off Nigeria remain risky. Vessels are advised to be vigilant as many attacks have gone unreported,” the IMB said.
Recent major attacks off Nigeria include the February hijacking of the container ship Kuramo for purposes of theft and kidnapping and the hijacking of the product tanker Leon Dias by self-described Biafran militants for political purposes in January.