Africa’s most populous, oil-rich, fastest-growing country—Nigeria—is now in contention for the world’s-worst trophy—a piracy-risk capital, despite its naval assets. Sadly, Nigeria is favourably competing with the world’s most unstable and war-torn country in the world—Somalia. And this is besides our medals in corruption and bad governance. Some say Somalia no longer qualifies to be called a country. Well, Nigeria now has some unenviable things in common with that country.
The Nigerian coastal waters are gradually being taken over by pirates. In the last two weeks of December last year alone, pirates attacked three ships off the coasts of Nigerian waters, thereby competing with Somalia in her nefarious activities. Somalia is not just rated the most dangerous place to sail, but it is also the most dangerous place to live or hope to achieve your life’s ambition. In Somalia, dreams are rendered comatose before they could be nurtured. If you do not believe it, ask Somali-born British track and field athlete, Mo Farah. At the height of the Somali uprising in the early 1990s, Mo Farah was helped to escape from home, living his twin brother behind due to limited space and resources. Today, Mo Farah is an Olympic Gold medalist, while his twin-brother is barely surviving. He ekes a living through the sales of fruits and vegetables on the streets of Mogadishu.
Back to our ship raid narrative which is bringing the latest odium to the already bad image of the country. Most of the ships raided are loaded with oil, and you know where this is coming from. Perhaps, it is the beginning of the subtle return of militancy in the Niger-Delta. It never really receded; it was only doused by a good policy initiative by the Yar’Adua government, the amnesty programme, hijacked and now messed up by the Jonathan regime.
The Wall Street Journal report published last week in the Daily Trust summed up 27 attacks off Nigeria’s coast in 2012, “up from 10 in 2011 and 19 the year before, a resurgence in the years after Nigeria’s 2009 amnesty deal with militants” Nigeria’s notoriety in this field is no longer confined to the shores of the country; it now spans across the continent, just like Somali’s. “Nigerian pirates also appear to range widely. In October (last year), suspected Nigerian pirates seized an oil tanker off Ivory Coast, four countries in between and 400 miles away from Nigeria, along Africa’s 2,100-mile-long Gulf of Guinea”, the report said, adding that Somali pirates were also alleged to be responsible for some daring attacks off the coast of Indonesia.
Nigeria fought a war and put it (at least the physical combat) behind her, but Somalia appears to be in a war without end. That country is now rated at par with Nigeria in more ways than one. The tragedy of the current malaise is not in its happenstance; it is in the fact that there seems to be no end in sight.
A few years ago, stories of suicide bombing and suicides in generally were only heard from far-flung countries of the Middle-East and Europe, respectively. Now, their occurrence is so frequent, suicide bombing and suicide stories are no longer hit headline news. Kidnapping for ransom may be a technique of political bargain elsewhere but criminals have so appropriated it as part of growing wave of crime, you’d think Nigerians invented it. Not to talk of internet scam, which is almost indigenous to us, and we are notoriously and internationally renowned for it. But
for the criminals involved in oil bunkering and piracy on the high seas, the road to Somalia may bring disrepute to the country, but it is surely paved in gold and high-valued currencies.