The Nigeria’s Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas has restated the continued commitment of the Nigerian Navy (NN) to a safer maritime domain for genuine maritime activities to thrive.
The CNS gave the assurance while defending the 2019 Nigerian Navy Budget before the Senate Committee on the Navy. He also stated that the vital role played by the NN in defence of the nation’s maritime interests makes it expedient for the Federal Government to invest more in the recapitalization of capital assets and other infrastructure for the NN.
Vice Admiral Ibas noted that there has been progressive increase in the percentage of foiled attacks on shipping over the last 4 years with significantly fewer attacks on shipping. This, he emphasized, is attributable to increased NN deterrence posture and dominance at sea, facilitating increased shipping and cargo tonnage into Nigeria.
He specifically noted that the Nigerian Shippers Council affirms a 31.24 per cent increase in volume of cargo into Nigeria, 21 per cent rise in associated coastal activities between 2017 and 2018, a 27 per cent increase in vessel registration and a 10.3 per cent increase in port calls by foreign vessels.
While stating that the NN has expanded its sphere of influence in response to increasing migratory threats by establishing new bases across the country and entering into bilateral and multilateral relations with countries in the sub-region, he said regional maritime security initiatives like the deployment of watch-keepers to the Maritime Trade Information Sharing Centre in Ghana as well as the Multi-National Maritime Coordination Centre in Benin Republic have been actualized. He also revealed that the NN also entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Heads of Navies of ECOWAS Zone E member countries namely, Benin Republic, Togo and the Gendarmerie of Niger Republic for joint patrols of our common maritime environment.
The CNS stated that other international commitments of the NN includes participation in annual multinational maritime exercises such as the Exercise OBANGAME EXPRESS and Exercise NEMO, adding that the NN in 2018 conducted the biennial International Maritime Conference and Regional Maritime Sea Exercise which drew participation from over 20 allied navies including the USA, China, Portugal, France, Ghana and Cameroun amongst others. Admiral Ibas further stated that the commitment of the Service to addressing insecurity on the domestic scene comes via various joint operations with the sister Services such as OP DELTA SAFE, LAFIYA DOLE, CROCODILE SMILE, AWATSE, SAFE HAVEN and SHARAN DAJI.
According to the CNS, the NN has also sustained critical single service operations such as Operation RIVER SWEEP, TSARE TEKU as well as the Choke Point Control Regime. He confirmed that the aforementioned efforts have led to drastic reduction in the incidence of crude oil theft as affirmed by statistics from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation indicating a drastic reduction in national crude oil losses from pipelines from N51.28 billion in 2015 to just N4.17 billion in 2017, while more savings are envisaged in 2018.
The CNS also noted other achievements in 2018 to include the construction of several jetties, particularly the reconstruction of Nigerian Navy Ship BEECROFT jetty, completion and commissioning of the Nigerian Navy Reference Hospital Calabar and the establishment of the Nigerian Navy Military School at Ikot-Ntuen in Akwa Ibom State. According to the CNS, this is in addition to the induction of over 200 Riverine Patrol Boats (RPBs) into NN inventory as well as progression of the contract for construction of the Landing Ship Tank (LST), Hydrography ship and
and manpower development efforts through the recruitment of 1,106 and 1,176 ratings in batches 27 and 28 respectively while 118 and 141 officers were also enlisted through Direct Short Service Commission (DSSC) Courses 24 and 25 respectively in 2018 and that plans are currently at advanced stages for the recruitment of about 3,000 ratings for Batch 29, while the training of 120 Midshipmen of NDA 66 and 73 cadets of DSSC 26 is ongoing.
Vice Admiral Ibas concluded that the Nigerian Navy will do a lot more in year 2019 and beyond if there will be enough funding.