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Nigerian Presidential Elections Could Escalate Piracy

March 18, 2013 - 09:45:51 UTC

Nigerian presidential elections in 2015 could escalate piracy

Original source: Soefartens Ledere (Danish Maritime Officers)

Militants, former rebels in Nigeria involved with piracy in the Gulf of Guinea support Nigeria's incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. The president's term of office expires in 2015 and he continues to be in no position to beat piracy in West Africa New, boring records.

By Jakob Wandel | 29 89 00 98 | jw@soefartens.org

President Goodluckk Jonathan. Image: Danish Maritime Officers

Nigeria's 55-year-old president, Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, grew up in the Niger Delta, where many of the current piracy in West Africa occurs. He is supported by militant groups who rebelled against the previous government, and some militia leaders today account for much of the Nigeria-based pirate activities in West Africa. This support is, according to experts, precisely the reason why piracy in the region does not escalate even more than it is at present.

The militia leaders, who are part of the government's amnesty program - and close to the government - have an interest in ensuring that disgruntled militia members at lower levels do not carry out  too many attacks in the region. This remains relevant, and the government can show that in spite of everything have no control over the situation in the south.

Read also: West African piracy problem without solution.

Doubts about the President may continue

President Jonathan's term of office expires in 2015 and there have been doubts about whether he could continue in office beyond that time. Although Goodluck Jonathan has only won one election, he already sits as president for the second time, which, according to Nigeria's constitution would prevent him from re-election. The highest court in Nigeria's capital Abuja on Friday 1 March 2013, held however, that Goodluck Jonathan nonetheless could not be prevented from standing for election in 2015. The judge reasons that Jonathan was not elected to his first term, but took over after his predecessor, Umaru Musa Yar ' Adua's, death.

Read also: West Africa piracy can be divided into 4 types.

Assault can hit new records

If Goodluck Jonathan continues in office after the presidential elections in 2015, it is expected an unchanged piracy situation in the Niger Delta,  at best, which is partly held in check by the main ex-rebel leaders, says Thomas Horn Hansen, London-based analyst at security firm Risk Intelligence. Even more serious, it seems, would be if the incumbent president must give way, or lose the election to a candidate who does not come from the Niger Delta. In this case, the conflict level in the region will grow and it will particularly cause the extent of pirate attacks on tugs and supply vessels in the offshore segment to grow, believes Thomas Horn Hansen. The analyst believes that the scale of pirate attacks on offshore vessels in this case can reach the level of record years 2007 and 2008. Before Goodluck Jonathan sat on the presidency, he was Vice President and Governor of the Nigerian state of Bayalsa in the Niger Delta.

Read also: Concern over West African piracy

The views expressed are those of Danish Maritime Officers contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of OCEANUSLive.

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