By Our Correspondents
President Muhammadu Buhari has pledged continuous support for the Nigerian Navy (NN).
He stated this at the Naval Dockyard Limited, Victoria Island during the inauguration of 30 vessels newly added to the navy’s fleet.
Among the vessels were the second Seaward Defence Boat (SDB) indigenously constructed, NNS KARADUWA, NNS UNITY built to specification in China, a tugboat, UGWU and 27 other back water boats.
Noting that the nation was in recession, Buhari urged the navy to remain prudent in the management of resources, adding that they should look inwards to construct and improvise some vital operational tools.
The President commended the navy for building two out of the three ships that were commissioned.
At the event were Lagos Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, Minister for Defence, Mohammed Dan-Ali, Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi and his Works, Health and Science and Technology counterparts, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Prof. Isaac Adewale and Ogbonnaya Onu.
Others include the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, Chief of Air Staff (CAS) Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, Commandant, National Defence College (NDC) Rear Admiral Sanmi Alade, heads of military, police and other security agencies in Lagos, retired Service Chiefs, Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim, Dele Ezeoba and Usman Jibrin, as well as Director General, NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside, among others.
“It is most fulfilling to note that our own engineers at the Nigerian Navy Dockyard, Lagos and the Naval Shipyard, Port Harcourt are wholly responsible for the building of the Seaward Defence Boat, Nigerian Navy Ship KARADUWA and the Tugboat COMMANDER EDWIN UGWU, respectively. It is also worth noting that NNS UNITY, which is Nigeria’s newest warship, is the second of such acquisitions from the Peoples’ Republic of China.
“The Nigerian Navy had shown great foresight in nurturing the vision for NNS Unity and her sister ships. It is comforting that efforts were not confined to using foreign sources alone, but in mobilising local complements.
“The Federal Government expects no less from you as looking inwards is the way to go amidst a uniquely challenging mix of recession and rising acute security concerns.
“The prevailing situation is not new given the intimate connections between economic prosperity and security. For a littoral state with huge dependence on her offshore resources, maritime security is vital to the nation’s well-being.
“You have been afforded increased defence capacity. This empowerment also enhances your role as instruments of diplomacy and leadership in the region and credible standing on the global stage.”
In his welcome address, the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) Vice Admiral Ibok-Ette Ibas said the navy has added about 100 boats to its fleet this year alone, adding that the service was conscious of the huge investments the nation has made in her.
Ibas reiterated the navy’s desire to maintain credible presence at sea in order to safeguard critical assets and national resources in the maritime domain.
He said: “It is our intention as a Service to take every opportunity to justify this trust reposed on us.
In the pursuit of our service delivery, a requirement exists for a continual appraisal of our operational environment as a precursor to identifying our needs. This appraisal, which encompasses a review of the threats and the required response, forms the background to this event.
“In a little elaboration, may I re-state the fact that the NN is presently challenged by multi-faceted monstrous threats from all flanks in her operational space, which also coincides with the nation’s indispensable resource base. Arising from the debilitating security situation, the vast resources and potentials in the Nigeria’s maritime domain are undermined, resulting in constrained investment and arrested economic prospects, growing crime and potentially adverse political consequences.