The Federal Government has been called to proactively enlist members of host communities in the fight against sea robbery in its efforts at maintaining maritime safety.
Also for consideration, is the recruitment of repentant sea pirates into the security intelligence network, the enforcement of territorial boundaries for fishing for the benefit of the locals as well as targeted education for members of the coastal communities to enable them meet requirements for managerial positions in the maritime industry, in line with federal character stipulations.
The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Comrade Ini Ememobong stated these earlier today in Uyo, while receiving participants in the Naval Warfare Course 5 of the Naval War College, Nigeria who paid him a courtesy call as part of their study tour of the state.
Comrade Ini Ememobong who was proferring solutions to the theme of the Study tour – “Curbing Sea Robbery, Towards Enhancing Socio- economic Development in AkS”, said, while assessing the effects of sea robbery on the socio-economic lives of the people, it was also critical to look into the causes of the societal ill, to enable government nib the menace from its roots.
He opined that, if gun combats and killings have so far not been able to conquer sea robbery, it was therefore expedient to think outside the box, away from conventional methods, and adapt other measures that will have long term success in the fight towards ensuring maritime safety for the people in coastal communities.
Comrade Ememobong listed some of the causes of sea robbery to include: inability of host communities to legitimately participate in maritime activities; lack of quality education, self awareness and consciousness by members of host communities, lack of effective community engagement and the growing unemployment in the society.
The State Information helmsman therefore advocated for targeted education for the people in the coastal communities, putting an end to illegal fishing across territorial boundaries by high level fishing trawlers, which deprive coastal dwellers of means of livelihood; effective community engagements to enable people in the coastal areas to be actively involved in the security of their water ways as well as open punishments for culprits to serve as deterrent.
Ememobong disclosed that, in Akwa Ibom State, Governor Udom Emmanuel has invested heavily towards ensuring maritime safety and curbing sea robbery through various avenues including: the inclusion of Rural and Riverine development as one of the major planks of the Completion Agenda, the inauguration of Ibom 3000 project to train youths of skills and technology needed in the maritime industry and other gainful businesses, the proscription of cultism and all cult-related activities and the empowerment of youths in such areas like Agriculture, ICT, SMEs etc.
Others are the installation of Cold chain facilities in coastal communities to boost fish processing, community engagements for Social Re-orientation, jingles on Radio and Television to create awareness on societal ill, live Radio/Television programmes to inculcate ethical values in youths as well as the creating of a legal framework to fight the initiation of secondary school students into cultism.
Earlier, the leader of the team, Brigadier General AAW Hassan, had said, the team had said, the visit became necessary as Ministry of Information and Strategy was very critical in providing information on the maritime environment of the state.
The team lead intimated that it was part of the course programme, for participants to visit a coastal state in the Federation with focus on contemporary security challenges in the creeks and water ways with Akwa Ibom as a good example of such states in Nigeria.
He said the team is made of Faculty members, Directing staff and 22 participants from the Nigeria Navy and Airforce.
In their seperate vote of thanks, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr. Inyang Jameson expressed thanks to the visitors for the encomiums poured on Akwa Ibom, such as being the most peaceful State in Nigeria and for being a fast developing state in the country; while one of the participants, Wing Commander F.D. Stephen expressed appreciation to the Information Commissioner for giving them the desired information on the theme of their study tour of the state.
Highlights of the event were: the signing of the visitor’s register, presentation of souvenir items and publications of the Ministry to the team lead by the Commissioner and also the presentation of a souvenir on behalf of the Commandant of the Naval War College, Rear Admiral M. M Bashir by the team lead, BrigGen AAW Hassan to the Honourable Commissioner for Information and Strategy Comrade Ini Ememobong.
The event was witnessed by Directors in the Ministry.
Office of the Hon. Commissioner
Ministry of Information and Strategy
Akwa Ibom State