The Nigerian Navy (NN), on Wednesday, received Prince Charles of Wales, as part of efforts to deepen the dividends of maritime security cooperation between the United Kingdom and Nigeria. The visit was quite symbolic given that the NN was an offshoot of Britain’s Royal Navy before Nigerian gained independence.
The Prince of Wales who arrived the jetty of the Naval Dockyard Limited in Victoria Island, Lagos, at about 1:46 pm on Wednesday, was recieved by the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas.
After mounting the podium, the NN Ceremonial Guard presented the salute before playing one stanza of the UK National Anthem. He immediately boarded Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) EKULU, where the Commanding Officer, Commander Andrew Zidon received him alongside the Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Habila Ngalabak and other senior officers, who paid compliments.
After he was escorted to the quarterdeck and ascended to the Flying Bridge, he was received onboard and saluted by all, before the vessel set sail. Whilst at sea, the prince received a brief overview of UK defence in Nigeria and the gains of the NN in securing the nation’s vast maritime domain.
Whilst sailing the area of responsibility (AOR), the objectives of the visit was thus achieved. He afterwards escorted to the wardroom by Zidon and invited to sign the ship’s visitors’ book, before he bid farewell and disembarked.
He however paused to receive a hearty three cheers from the ship’s company before departing with his team.
According to information provided by the Director Navy Information Officer, Commodore Ayo Olugbode, the objectives of the visit was to highlight and demonstrate to the prince UK’s maritime contribution to defence engagement in Nigeria and the importance of Lagos Harbour to the Nigerian economy.
He said: “Another objective of his visit was to strengthen relations with the Nigerian Navy by visiting NNS EKULU and meeting with the Chief of Naval Staff, and other personnel. The visit was also an opportunity to
raise the profile of UK -Nigerian maritime security cooperation.”
Ibas while speaking with journalists after the departure of the prince, said the visit was an encouragement for the navy, adding that it would also show the participation of the royal navy on our waters.
He said: “The Nigerian Navy is an offshoot of the Royal Navy and he is also here to see by himself the progress being made through the cooperative support the royal navy has been giving Nigeria. He has come to see for himself the progress being made through the cooperative support that the Royal Navy and the British Government has given Nigeria.
“We were able to demonstrate some of those capabilities to him, perhaps this will spur government to support the navy both materially and in other affairs of capacity building. Our effort is to ensure that we police this our sea area to allow free trade so that Nigerian lives will be better off, basically to ensure that prosperity remains with our people.
“Somebody can only visit you when the person is sure you are making progress and of course, the visit is an encouragement to the Nigerian Navy. For us, having visited, they are aware of other exercises that have been conducted by other partner nations.
“We have had the French Navy visit us, we have had the German as well as other navies. If I recall the last time, we had an exercise with the Royal Navy was about three or four years ago, perhaps with this visit we can see more of the participation of the Royal Navy in our sea exercises.
“We have been relating, they have been training our men, the joint Maritime training center was funded and being supported by the UK government but we have asked for more support to enable us police the vast unpoliced areas.”The results speak for themselves, we have been able to contain the menace of sea robbers and sea pirates. It’s not something that can be wiped or wished away, in the last couple of months, we have been able to keep them out of the maritime environment. We need more of such encouragement. We are almost 75 per cent operationally ready.”