“Militancy in the Niger-Delta and Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea: Threats, Challenges and Opportunities for the African Integrated Maritime Strategy 2050

Dr John-Mark Iyi presented a paper at the conference. In his paper, he states that there has been a decline in the activities of militants in the Niger Delta of Nigeria in recent years. However, within the same period, the Gulf of Guinea has witnessed increase in piracy and armed robbery at sea. In addition to this, the theft of crude oil in the Niger Delta by local and international criminal gangs has increased. In view of these and other developments, the African Union launched Africa's Integrated Maritime Strategy 2050 (AIM Strategy 2050) to serve as the framework for developing a coherent policy and legal framework for the sustainable development Blue Economy in Africa. Dr Iyi's paper examines the existing threats to the adoption of the AIM Strategy in littoral states of the Gulf of Guinea with particular emphasis on Nigeria. The paper argues that the resurgence of pirates in the Gulf of Guinea is as a result of the socio-economic and political instability in the Niger Delta of Nigeria owing to competition for control of natural resources. State fragility in Nigeria as a result of weak institutions has created a vacuum in the maintenance of peace and security in the Niger Delta which was filled by unemployed youth who challenge the legitimacy of the Nigerian state. It is this instability that has spread to the Gulf of Guinea. Dr Iyi argued that most of the Gulf of Guinea states have a relatively young population and against since the youth are responsible for the rise of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, it is necessary to revise the AU AIM Strategy 2050 in order to provide a central role for the youth. The paper concludes that by leaving out the youth who are the majority in most African states including Nigeria and other Gulf of Guinea states, the AIM Strategy has left out the most critical group of Africans needed for the successful implementation of AIM Strategy 2050. The paper is being revised for publication.