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The historical perspective of the Establishment of the Nigerian Merchant Navy (NMN) (Seafarers), then known as Nigerian Marine which dated back to 21st July, 1796. This followed the advent of Mungo Park who discovered Slave trade activities in Badagry, Lagos and Calabar wharf where the Britishs and Portugueses were exporting Nigerians as slaves. These activities were made easier based on the inactive control and the then widespread lack of civilization on the parts of Africans nationalities, who later became amalgamated as Nigerian state.

In 1820, those active slaves men transmuted to Nigerian Seamen and some were constituted as the Security of the Coastal Water Ways, while others remained as Sailors as they were deployed to manned all the Local Wharf and jetties; it therefore follows that in 1823 the Nigerian Seamen Act was enacted into law under the Merchant Shipping Acts of 1823, 1835 and 1876 respectively of the Nigerian Federation under the leadership of the British Marine Officers. They were in control and coordination of all Nigerian Seamen Affairs of Shore Base and onboard Ships, while some numbers of coastal passengers patrol Boats and deep-Sea-Cargo Ships were delivered for Security Operations and commercial purposes.

These were facilitated by proficiency and professionalism of the Nigerian Merchant Navy Seamen, which attracted the British shipping and trading companies such as Elderdempstar Shipping Agency, Palm Line Shipping Agency and Umaco Shipping Company to establish in Nigeria.

In 1914, Colonies and the Protectorates of Nigeria’s Order-in-Council, acting under the Theatres and Public Performances Regulations Ordinance 1912 of Southern Nigerian, at a meeting of the Executive Council, held at Government House in Lagos, on Monday the 16th day of February 1914, with the following eminent personalities in attendance viz;
1. His Excellency the Governor General.
 Sir, Frederick D. Lugard G.C.M.G, C.B, D.S.O;
2)    The Hon. Acting Administrator,
    Major Moorhouse D.S.O;

3)    The Hon. Acting Attorney General,
    A. R. Pennington K.C;

4)    The Hon. Commandant,
    Colonel Corter C.B. C.M.G;

5)    The Hon. The acting Treasurer,
    D.H.D Brat ESQ;

6)    The Hon.  Director of Marines,
    Lieutenant Child R.N. C.M.G;

7)    The Hon.  Comptroller of Custom;
    T.F. Burrowes ESQ;

Made the following resolutions:
“Under and by virtue of the provisions of sections one of the theatres and public performances regulation ordinance 1912 Southern Nigerian it is hereby ordered by the Governor General of the Colony and the protectorate of Nigeria, with the advice of the executive council thereof  that all provision of the said ordinance shall apply and be in force. The Clerk of the Executive Council Mr. CT Lawrence Ordered in Council the 16th day of February 1914”.
“The Nigerian Marine and the Nigeria Customs were charged with the responsibilities for revenue mobilization Department of Nigeria Government. The Nigerian Marine has been highly performing its statutory function and duties engaging in sailing, Securing the Nigeria Coastline Waterways, Seaports and Jetties, participating in all Military Peace Keeping Operation or Conflict Resolution and Transporting Relief materials to a disaster or conflict zones”.
It must be noted that these colonial acts have not been repealed till date.
In 1922, during the British/Argentina war over Falkland Island, the Nigeria Marine Shore Base Department was conveyed by the Seamen to participate in the British and Falkland War. That same year King George the V of England changed the name of the Nigeria Marines to the Nigerian Merchant Navy (NMN) in recognition of her critical role at war times.

From 1938 to the threshold of 1940s, the Nigerian Merchant Navy (NMN) participated in the First World War in Germany; the Seafarers on board stood by to convey the Nigeria Army (AN) and their equipment to the War Zone. The unfinished business of the First World War led to the Second World War that ended in 1945. Based on her (NMN) contingency responsiveness, the Nigeria Government and the West African Frontier Force renamed the Nigeria Merchant Navy (NMN) as Quasi Military Force (QMF), that later became Nigeria Naval Force after some years.

In 1956, the Nigeria Port Authority (N.P.A) became fully operational. It inherited a staff asset of about 2,762 comprising 155 Officers and 2,607 ratings from the Nigerian Merchant Navy (NMN) (Seafarers), to enable the Nigeria Port Authority carry our their functions and operations.

In 1956, the Director of the Nigeria Port Authority (N.P.A) and the Nigerian Merchant Navy invited Captain Williams J. Skulil, a Director of Marine, from England. He came with the proposal for the establishment of the Nigeria Navy (NN). The first intakes of the Nigeria Navy (NN) were sourced on the basis of quotas from the following organization:
The Nigerian Merchant Naval Force;
The Nigeria Port Authority N.P.A; and
The Nigeria Inland Waterways Department
At the Nigeria Port Authority (N.P.A), the quotas were four (4) prospective cadet Engineers and four (4) Prospective Deck Cadets-all destined for services with the Nigerian Merchant Navy (NMN) (Seafarers) under the auspices of the joint scheme sponsored by the Nigeria Port Authority (N.P.A) and the leading Shipping Company, Elderdemstar Shipping Company. While the Nigerian Merchant Navy Establishment Ship Base was Quorra, Apapa- Olenu Marine Beach and Apapa- Old –Port, Lagos.

In the same period of 1957/58, the Department of the Establishment of the Nigeria Navy (NN) made a good progress despite the limited inherited funds from the Nigerian Merchant Navy (NMN) and the Nigeria Port Authority (N.P.A) at its disposal, she was able to clear her allocated site and kick started formal administrative functions. This was made possible because talks were held by the Defence Branch of the Governor – General’s Office with the Ministry of Transport and the Nigeria Port Authority towards reaching a settlement on the terms for the transfer of the site of the Nigeria Navy (NN) base from the Nigeria Port Authority N.P.A and the withdrawal from the Nigerian Merchant Navy (NMN) back to Government. A sum of fifteen thousand pounds $15,000.00 was agreed as compensation and the site was formally transferred back to Government with effect from the 1st April, 1957.

In 1958, Commodore A. R. Kennedy visited Nigeria from England accompanied by Joseph Edet Akinwale Way among others to submit to the parliament the proposal for the establishment of the Nigeria Navy (NN). This move led to the enactment of the Nigeria Navy (NN) Act of 1964 establishing the Nigerian Navy Force. Later, commodore Joseph Edet Akinwale Way naturally became the first indigenous Chief of Naval Staff and later rose to become the first Vice Admiral of the Nigeria Navy (NN).

In 1959, Dr. Philip Odimegwu Ojukwu established the Nigeria National Shipping Line (NNSL) with not less than ten Merchant Navy (MN) vessels. The Nigeria Government wrote to Queen Elizabeth II of England for the withdrawal of all Nigerian Merchant Navy Seamen (NMN) abroad serving on board British and German Ships – through secondment of services – to come and joined the newly established Nigeria National Shipping Line. As soon as Her Majesty granted the request, the Nigerian Merchant Navy (NMN) thereafter vacated their Establishment Ship Base at Quorra 1, Apapa Marine Beach for N.P.A Commercial Building, Apapa wharf. This action enabled the Nigeria Navy (NN) to take full charge of the establishment Base at Quorra 1 at Apapa. The fact that the “Nigerian Merchant Navy (NMN) Establishment” is permanently engraved on the structure of NNS Quorra attests to this undisputable fact/history.

As at Nigeria’s Independence on 1st October 1960, while the nascent Nigerian Navy (NN) was strictly performing her military duties, the Nigerian Merchant Navy was concurrently performing her Merchant Navy (MN) Security duties such as policing the Nigeria territorial Waterways, Seaports, jetties and terminals. These also included their Merchant Shipping business roles and were also generating revenues for the government from maritime activities just like their counterpart in the Nigeria Custom Service (NCS).

It must be recalled that before the Nigerian Civil War, the Nigeria Merchant Navy (NMN) had also participated in Wars in such places like Burma, Congo - Brazzaville. In early 1980s, the Nigerian Merchant Navy (NMN) Seamen were responsible for the transportation of relief materials to South Africans in South Africa up to 1987- at the peak of racial segregation policy (apartheid).

In 1984, the Nigerian Merchant Navy (NMN) conveyed both men and material for the Nigeria Army (NA) Navy to Iran to join their War Ships during the Iraq and Iran Golf War Peacekeeping operations.

In 1991, the Nigerian Merchant Navy (NMN) also participated in the then Liberian civil War and the Sierra Leone civil war between 1998 and 2000; conveying men and materials for the Nigerian Army and descending refuse back to Nigeria.

The Federal Government In 1993 tasked the Merchant Navy (MN) to go and convey home deported Nigerians stranded in Libreville, Gabon. This is in spite of her bigger responsibilities of sailing Nigerian vessels around the world; conveying Cargos from one Port to another. The Nigerian Merchant Navy has indeed contributed enormously to the development of this great NATION through its activities.

2.0    Conceptual Definition Of The Word “Navy”
The word Navy is defined as officers and ratings on board a Country War Ships or any Ship for that matter. Any activity of a ship sailing on water is described as naval. In times of War, it can be viewed from two angles, war against foes and war against nature. The wars are of two sides of a coin producing different and the same results, which is for the wellbeing of the Society in general. The level of development and welfare rights of the people in a coastal Country determines the advancement and development of the Country in terms of maritime activities. The two arms responsible for the maximization of the maritime economy and security are the Merchant Navy Commerce Seamen and the Military Navy.

The Military Navy are the war fighting Navy or frontal navy; who fight foes that are intent on destabilizing the peace and Maritime territorial integrity of a nation. They exist primarily to counter external aggressions. The Nigerian Navy high command manifests intellectual deficiency known as reductionism; they deliberately or naively reduced the concept of “Navy” to mean only the military navy-they are reductionists.

Every Maritime Nation world over recognizes the vital role being played by the Merchant Navy (MN) in her maritime economy -both in peace and in war times. The merchant ships in general are regarded as “the fourth arm of a Nation’s Defence”, after the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. Merchant Navy (MN) is the force multiplier auxiliary and logistics arms of a Nation Military Defence. They are trained for any war at sea thus merchant ships stand the same risk of being hit by enemies’ missiles, mines or torpedoes as military Naval war ships. Our experiences in the war furnaces of Liberia (1991) and Sierra Leone (1994) are pointers to the importance of the Merchant Navy (MN) in the life of every coastal and maritime economy as demonstrated by NMN (their logistic participation through conveying Nigeria Military and their War equipment to the war-torn zones through sea).

3.0  The Nigeria Merchant Navy (NMN) and the Nigeria Navy (NN) Relationship
3.1     – The Perspective of National Interest
Whereas the primary responsibility for the Merchant Navy and their trainings rest on the Ministry of Transport, a strong relationship has become imperative between the Nigerian Merchant Navy (NMN), Maritime Academy Nautical College (Oron – Akwa Ibom) and the Nigeria Navy (NN).

Whereas the Nigeria Navy‘s interest in the Nautical College Oron, Akwa Ibom State derives from the agreement reached between the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Defence (Navy) in March 1984. This also stems from the National Defence Head Quarters’ requirement for an adequate Nigerian Merchant Navy (NMN), manned by well-trained officers that possess an understanding of naval procedures. This is to enable the Nigerian Merchant Navy (NMN) and their ships to operate efficiently with the Nigeria Navy (NN) in times of Wars or Conflicts. The Defence Headquarter envisaged this task as requiring arms and ammunitions; regular training of ratings to sharpen their skills and keeping them in the highest state of readiness which is the greatest asset of a modern Defence Force or the Nigerian Merchant Navy (NMN) Coastal Defence Force.

Whereas this was the consensus among the top Naval Officers who participated in “Operation Danke”, the joint Naval exercise between the Nigeria Navy (NN) and their visiting German counterparts, on Sunday February 22nd 1987, alongside a unit of the Nigeria Air Force. The exercise -Operation Danke- was designed as exercise to enable the Naval Ships performs certain maneuvers, which culminated in the creation of an air-tight-shield for Merchant Navy (MN) Ships at the sea.
Suffice to say that in times of War, the Nigerian Merchant Navy (NMN) Ships which carry large quantities of war essentials and life-support materials for troops of their country represent prime target as they are the supply chain.

However, a convoy of Military War equipment and goods-landing-Merchant-Navy (MN) vessels properly screened or protected by a contingent of Naval Ships has a good chance of getting to its destination with little or no mishap. The celebrated “Operation Danke” recalled was under the tactical Command of Commodore Murtala Nyako; while Captain Allison Madueke was the fleet Commander for the exercise, and Captain Jerome was the Command Technical Officer. Other top Military officers who participated in the exercise were Captain Okhai Mike Akhigbe, Former Military Governor of Lagos State; Commodore Frank Nesiama, Chief Staff Officer Western Naval Command; and Colonel David A.B Mark, Commander of Corps of Signals, Nigeria Army now, His Excellency, President of the Senate. The exercise witnessed the assemblage of four Nigeria Navy Ships, NNS ARADU, NNS AMBE, NNS LANA and NNS EKPE; two German Navy Ships-Rommel D-187 and KOLN F-211 and one Nigerian Merchant Navy (NMN) Ship M/V River Mada all participated in the exercise.

3.2  The Nigeria Merchant Navy (NMN) and the Nigeria Navy (NN)    Relationship – The Complimentary Perspective

The Nigeria Navy (NN) often collaborates with Nigerian Merchant Navy (NMN) fleets Officers and Ratings on auxiliary, logistics, vessels services and at times fishing crafts. In the same the Nigerian Merchant Navy (NMN) has looked up to the Nigeria Navy (NN) in time of dangers or protection from enemies in times of War at the sea.

The synergy and interdependence between the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Merchant Navy is currently receiving boost through modern ship designs and the reciprocal understanding of each other’s indispensability. For example, before now, the Nigeria Navy regarded the Nigerian Merchant Navy shipping as a vital nursery of Seamen which could furnish large number of trained sailors in times of crisis in our Nation, Nigeria.  

3.0    The Fundamentals of NMN’s Vision, Mission and Ideologies
Both in the short-term and long-term, the goals of the organization embodied in Nigerian Merchant Navy (seafarers),Maritime, Petroleum Security and Safety Corps Bill (2011) require urgent legislative enactment to avert further economic losses (locally and internationally) to our great nation. The objects of our corps are mainly inspired by our early operational mandates, and the introduction of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (S.I.P.S), by the international Maritime organization (IMO) in the year 2001. This code was a response measure to 11th September, 2001 terrorist attack correspondingly on Pentagon in Washington and the World Trade Centre, New York- both of the United States of America.

Hence it became mandatory for the resolutions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), and the United Nations Transport Organization (UNITO) which states that every country in the world with access to both ocean and sea must have their Merchant Navy Security and Safety Corps to be affiliated to all the aforementioned international multilateral organizations. The affiliation of the NMN also known as the Nigerian Merchant Navy (NMN) (Seafarers) Maritime Security and Safety Corps will in the long run attract international -job -creating organizations to Nigerian maritime and petroleum economy. Specifically, the benefits that will accrue to Nigerians if the Nigeria Merchant Navy bill is enacted are stated viz;
The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) will use this as an opportunity for the protection of foreign merchant ships, officers and crews on board. Further this will also be an avenue for Nigerians to pay their union dues as at when due; create international sea jobs  for Nigerian Merchant Navy (NMN) Seamen/Seafarers’ just like their counterparts in Philippines, Korea, Malaysia, Ghana, Coted-ivoire, Congo, Tanzanian, Sierra Leone to mention but a few that are currently tapping into this vista of massive job opportunities. This will in addition give the Nigerian Merchant Navy as well as the sailors- in -training the opportunity to celebrate the World Seafarers’ Day by keying into the I.T.F programmes with government support.
The International Merchant Organization (IMO) will oversee the welfare and conditions of sea service with a view ensuring working environment conducive for all Seafarers. The IMO will make Nigeria an African regional hub for the celebration of World Maritime Day as African largest market and top economy.
The United Nations International Transport Organization (UNITO) is also contemplating provisions for the Merchant Navy Seamen direct participation in Peace Keeping Mission, or in times of conflict resolution under the United Nation Peace Keeping Operations. This prospective direct participation will be in terms of rendering logistic and humanitarian services.

4.0    Brief Reviews Of The Merchant Navy Corps  In Other Climes
4.1. The United States Merchant Navy (USMN) Corps is called the United States Marine Corps. It was established as a separate service within the United States, which provides specially trained amphibious force, readily available to each of the major fleet commands. This concept was reaffirmed in the National Security Act of 1947 of the United States of America, which charged the US Marine Corps with the Primary Mission of providing troops essentials; the prosecutions of a responsibility for continue development of tactics for territorial water Security and Safety.

The United States Coast Guard was also created out of the United States Merchant Navy (MN) (Seafarers) under review. The US Coast Guard- as an auxiliary arm of the US Military- has about 34,000-guard workforce spread across their Nation; it is wholly composed of Civilian Volunteers Organizations. It was established in 1912 under a multinational agreement upon which the government enacted International Ice Patrol Act of the US. The Coast Guard comprises Crewmen; who can jump into the water to rescue others; embodying the long standing tradition of Coastlines world over.

Currently, the United States citizenry do not revere much the invaluable role of the Coast Guard in almost all their National Maritime issues. That is unfortunate because the smallest (Coast Guard) of the five armed Services responsible for tracking down of Maritime crimes and ensure the safety of lives in the water ways of all states of the United States of America plays an invaluable role in the national security.

4.2. The Great Britain: the British Merchant Navy (MN) Constituted the British Royal Navy (BRN) of England. Thus, in 1914 the United Kingdom had a huge total of imports and exports, but a very small seagoing Merchant Navy. Whereas Norway with a very small modes of commerce of its own, had a very impressive Merchant Navy (MN) fleet that engages primarily in carrying goods for others, which includes England and Germany, who in a bid to protect their economic stronghold developed sophisticated Shipping at that time, backed by strong Coastal Merchant Security. This is to secure their maritime- business -market share. As a result of the British- Argentina -Falkland –Territorial-War Treaty, British Nursery of Seamen Merchant Navy (MN) were put on alert, to alert large numbers of trained sailors in case of imminent attack. The Queen Elizabeth of England for instance, utilized her position as Head of the Church of England to then decree that Wednesday as well as Friday be declared “Meatless days” in order to build up a reserve of trained Merchant Navy (MN) Seamen; by increasing the fishing trawler fleets. The Merchant Navy (MN) vessels too were frequently drawn into Naval Service in England as light cruisers or patrol crafts, just as they were also constantly receiving series of Letters of Marquee, which licensed them to spy on enemy shipping as privates.
4.3. The Russian Soviet Union has her own version of Merchant Navy (MN) Sea Security Corps referred to as the “Coastal Defence”. The Former Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union named Sergio Georgiyevich Gorshkov, emerged in the then Soviet Unions as a great builder of the soviet sea power from the Soviet Merchant Navy (MN) Coastal Defence Force into global reckoning. This gave the United States of America Navy a serious international challenge and restlessness up to the cold –war period. This era began from on the 5th January 1956, when he took over as Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Navy, until he retired; about 29 years later. He did not relent in ensuring a cumulative build-up of a formidable Navy, commensurable with then large Soviet Unions. He complimented his work with the development of a world – class Merchant Navy (MN) (as a reinforcement reserve) with a view to fulfilling and sustaining USSR’s global super mission.

4.4. The Malaysians Merchant Navy (MN) Security and Safety Corps of their maritime was called Maritime Security Agency and has nothing to do with Malaysia Military Force – no conflict of role with the Malaysian Navy. This is because the Malaysia Government did not want anything that will jeopardize her international trade and commerce.

4.5. Others like the Australians, Canadians, Panamanians, the Ghanaians, Spanish, Pakistani, Ivorians, Norwegians, Indians, Singaporeans, Greeks, Senegalese, Sierra Leones, Liberians, Egyptian among other countries have their Merchant Navy (MN) Corps established in line with international laws and conventions. The enforcement agencies are the International Merchant Organization (IMO); International Transport Workers Federation (ITF); United Nation International Transport Organization (UNITO) and African Union Organization (AU) General Assembly resolutions on the “International Ship and Port facilities Security (ISPS) Code” convention in Geneva, Switzerland 2001. These resolutions mandated all countries that have access to both Ocean and sea to establish their Merchant Navy Corps and affiliate them to all the foretasted internationally related Organizations.

4.6 The benefits accruable to Nigerian government on the basis of NMN -proposed -legislative establishment and affiliation to the aforementioned international agencies are:
The Merchant Navy (MN) regional and international countries will prevent any illegal exportation of dangerous weapons from their countries to members state countries;
The ITF will create international and regional sea jobs for Nigerian Merchant Navy (NMN) (Seafarers) by means of prompt and adequate payment of ITF (seafarers) engagement –on-board-union dues and adequate payment of salaries of ITF wages based on the carbotage Act 2003, and the implementation of (SOLIAS) STCWC Mandatory Conventions.
The IMO will oversee the welfare and working conditions in the maritime industry-focusing mainly on seafarers, sea service, the safety and   environment conducive for seafaring.
The UNITO will give a world-class logistic and technical support service to the Nigerian Merchant Navy (NMN) Security and Safety Corps in terms of strategic intervention or when call upon to undertake logistic service for African Union (AU), ECOWAS and United Nations Peace-Keeping missions or in time of conflict resolution – supply of relief materials in distress situation.

The major objectives of seeking legislative enactment for the Nigerian Merchant Navy (NMN) (seafarers) Maritime & Petroleum Security and Safety Corps Bill (2011) are:
to ensure proper coordination of all Nigeria Seamen nation wide with a view to bringing development into marine areas; and
  to ensure that Nigeria maximize her economic potentialities in the maritime sub-sector which are currently in favour of foreigners, thanks to the dredging of the Lower Niger and future dredging of more inland water ways.

The Nigerian Merchant Navy (NMN) Corps will through its operations amongst other things generate revenue for the federal government of Nigeria and create hundred of thousands of taxable for the teeming unemployed youths. This will make Nigeria itch closer to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs’).

The Nigerian Merchant Navy Corps as being reconstituted by the Nigerian state is the missing link Nigerian maritime and petroleum economy.