Inaugurates 30 vessels, pledges support for navy
Tobi Soniyi in Abuja and Chiemelie Ezeobi in Lagos
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Lagos pledged the continuous support of the federal government to equip the military, while urging ingenuity in complementing the government’s efforts by looking inwards to construct and improvise some vital operational tools.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said Buhari spoke at the commissioning ceremony of three Naval ships, Nigerian Navy Ship Unity, Nigerian Navy Ship Karaduwa and the Nigerian Navy Tugboat Commander Edwin Ugwu, Buhari commended the Nigerian Navy for building two out of the three ships that were commissioned.
The statement said the Nigerian Navy Ship Unity was built in China, while the KARADUWA as well as the Nigerian Navy Tugboat Commander Edwin Ugwu, were constructed in Nigeria.
The president said: “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 president said the Nigerian Navy had shown great foresight in nurturing the vision for the NNS Unity and her sister ships, noting that it was 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, “ he added.
Buhari urged more probity and re-dedication to patriotism by the Nigerian Navy.
“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.
“Today you are 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,” he said.
He commended the Navy’s impressive strides in the area of continued fight against maritime security threats like piracy, oil theft, illegal bunkering, pipeline vandalism and support for the fight against terrorism in the North-east.
The president said the healthy and growing diplomatic relations with China had been most beneficial to Nigeria, recalling that the Chinese Government had earlier donated an offshore patrol boat to the Navy at the time of taking delivery of the sister ship of Nigerian Navy Unity last year.
“I cannot but commend the business dependability of China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Company Limited, the builders of these offshore patrol vessels for seeing to a conclusive and successful execution of the contracts.
“In the same vein, I enjoin their local partners to share in this commendation for their efforts at local facilitation,” he said.
Buhari pledged more support for the navy, as well as continuous support to equip the military in the fight against terror on all frontiers.
At the event were the Minsters for Defence, Transport, Health, Works and Housing, Science and Technology, Masur Dan Ali, Rotimi Amaechi, Adewole Isaac, Babatunde Fashola and Ogbonnaya Onu respectively.
Also at the event were the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin; the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar; the Commandant, National Defence College, Rear Admiral Ilesanmi Alade; the Flag Officers Commanding, Western Naval Command and Naval Training Command, Rear Admirals Bobai Ferguson and Ifeola Mohammed respectively.
Also present were the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode; Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni; the Director General of NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside and royal personages, Diplomatic Corps, as well as a host of other serving and retired senior officers.