By Samuel Tombra, Yenagoa
The newly-established 16th Brigade of the Nigerian Army has commenced full military operations in Bayelsa State.
Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Burutai on Tuesday led top military officers to inaugurate the operations of the brigade at its temporary site at Opolo in Yenagoa and to inspect the outfit’s permanent site at Elebele.
Buratai, who paid a courtesy call on Governor Seriake Dickson, said the setting up of the brigade was in pursuant to the strategic directives of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The army chief, who was in the company of the Commander, Joint Task Force (JTF), Operation Delta Safe (ODS), Maj.-Gen. Suleiman Apochi, said the President earlier approved the establishment of the brigade and later backed it up with required resources and personnel for its take off.
Already, he disclosed that Brig.-Gen. Kelvin Akhigbe, had been appointed as the pioneer commander of the outfit adding that the brigade had full complement of required officers.
He said: “We are here to pursue one of the strategic directives of Mr. President and Commander-in-Chief who has approved the siting of 16 Brigade of the Nigerian Army in Bayelsa.
“Last year, I was hear and mentioned that the government has approved the siting of a brigade in this place. This has been fulfilled and we have a Brigade Commander, Brig.-General Kelvin Akhigbe and today we formally operationalise the Brigade in Bayelsa State”.
On the rationale behind the establishment of the brigade in Bayelsa, he said: “This is a strategic decision which we all know that Bayelsa apart from its strategic location of having boundaries with the Atlantic Ocean, it has a very rich and strong coastline.
“Indeed, the economic resources that this country has definitely require a formation that has the responsibility to deter and defend any external aggression from that direction. This is in conjunction with other services of the Nigerian Armed Forces especially the Nigerian Navy”.
Buratai further added that the army was making plans to establish a battalion in Nembe Local Government Area of the state as part of the unit of the brigade.
He thanked the governor for his support to the army in the state and roles he played in the establishment of the brigade especially in the areas of land acquisition.
Burutai also applauded the governor for the huge transformation and his landmark projects, especially the new governor’s office, which he described as gigantic.
In his response, Dickson commended President Buhari and the Army Command for fulfilling the pledge of setting up the new brigade in the state.
He said the initiative would strengthen the existing security architecture in the state and help his administration sustain its gains the security sector.
Dickson, who formally inaugurated the new 16th brigade headquarters appealed to the army not to abandon the land for the permanent site of the brigade for too long.
He also tasked Buratai to set up good command schools and medical outfits to complement the development drive of his government in education and health.
“As you are aware our government has a very clear agenda on development, very clear agenda on security and very clear agenda on promoting prosperity. And none of these can be achieved without first establishing a conducive, peaceful and safe environment”, Dickson said.