In line with its efforts to enhance capacity in ship building, the Nigerian Navy has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a United Arab Emirates (UAE) based company, Prinvest for the upgrade of Naval Dockyard Limited, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin revealed this during the ceremonial sunset to signal the end of the 59th anniversary of the Navy.
He said that the decision was borne out of the desire to equip the Navy for local building of ships, noting that the firm which will be domiciled at the Naval Dockyard, will take on the rehabilitation of Nigeria’s flagship, NNS ARADU, six strides boats, and build some interceptor boats, to ensure the emplacement of adequate security within the nation’s waters.
According to Jibrin, the nation’s dependency on the maritime resources of the sea makes the Navy’s role paramount in achieving its national objective.
Highlighting his achievements as CNS, Jibrin said the Navy under his watch has left no stone unturned in combating vices such as crude oil theft, illegal bunkering and pipeline vandalism, which are some of the most serious threats to the nation’s economic survival.
He also remarked that professional and on-the-job training of personnel has been prioritised under his watch, adding that Naval personnel have been sent on both foreign and local courses to equip them for the maritime challenges of the 21st century.
He said: “Efforts are ongoing to continually increase the operational effectiveness of the fighting force of the NN. As part of these efforts, another historic milestone was achieved with the commissioning of four ships-NNS CENTENARY, NNS OKPABANA, NNS SAGBAMA and NNS PROSPERITY on February 19.
“The NN also received five interceptor boats (K-13) early this year from the Netherlands. While foreign acquisition of ships has been ongoing, the NN is unrelenting with local constructions of vessels.
“The construction of the second Seward Defence Boat has reached advanced stage at the Naval Dockyard. The NN shipyard in Port Harcourt is presently constructing an ocean going tugboat.”
Jibrin said he was equally proud that a critical decision has been taken to reposition the Naval Dockyard Limited. According to him, the NN has organised several exercises which comprised boarding, searching and arrest of vessels engaged in illegality at sea. Patrols were also increased in all the Operations Commands leading to the interception, interrogation and arrest of several vessels involved in crude oil theft and illegal bunkering.
Also speaking at the event, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Ismaila Aliyu, said the successes the Navy has recorded in national and international engagements attested to its proficiency.
According to him, occasions such as the ceremonial sunset called for sober reflection on the state of the nation, especially the present security challenges confronting the country. “The prevailing security situation is a challenge to all Nigerians irrespective of our ethnic, cultural, religious, social and political inclinations. I therefore want to take this opportunity to call on all Nigerians at home and abroad to unite with the Federal Government and well-meaning allies in seeking an end to Boko Haram insurgency. No nation can achieve meaningful development in an atmosphere devoid of unity, peace and security…It is particularly worthy to note that the Nigerian Navy, despite the onerous task of protecting the nation’s maritime domain, is still involved in internal security operations in many states of the Federation,” he said.
Reminding the Navy of its constitutional role of defending the nation’s maritime domain, Aliyu emphasised the need for more robust strategy to combat crude oil theft.
Present at the ceremony were the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh; former Chief of General Staff, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe; former Chiefs of Naval Staff, Vice Admirals A.A. Aduwo, D.P.E. Omoshola; I.I. Ibrahim; Samuel Afolayan, Victor Ombu and Dele Ezeoba; President, Naval Officers’ Wives Association, Mrs. Lami Jibrin.
Others include Rear Admirals Sanmi Alade, Goddy Ayankpele, Ibok Ete-Ibas, Jonathan Ango, B.A. Egbedina and P.S. Adeniyi (rtd); General Officer Commanding (GOC) 81 Division, Gen. Tanmi Dibi; Commandant, Nigerian Armed Forces Resettlement Centre (NAFRC), Air Vice Marshal, Monday Morgan; as well as Air Commodore Lere Osayintolu.
By Pita Ochai