Sunday Ehigiator reports that it was with a thankful heart that the Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship Beecroft, Rear Admiral Okon Edet Eyo, led family and friends for his thanksgiving service at St. Michael’s Military Catholic Church, Tamandu Barracks, Apapa to celebrate his recent promotion
“Rejoice with those who rejoice”, is one popular scripture by Apostle Paul that keeps resounding. Recently, it was in fulfilment of this that friends, families, and all well-wishers gathered at the St. Michael’s Military Catholic Church, Tamandu Barracks, Apapa, to celebrate the promotion of an exemplary leader, Rear Admiral Okon Eyo; whose humble lifestyle received accolades and recommendations from all; especially those aspiring for such measures of blessings in the military.
Speaking with THISDAY, the celebrant whom was commended for his role in ameliorating the Apapa traffic gridlock by his boss, former Military Governor of Osun State, Anthony Udofia, reminisced on some of his achievements on his way to stardom, while thanking God for the feat attained so far.
According to Eyo, “I feel very happy; which is why I have to pick an opportunity to thank God. This is not the kind of thing that happens in a man’s life every day. And also friends, well-wishers, those who have been praying for a day like this to come and share in my joy and I also believe that by doing that, God would also look into their expectations and make it come to pass. I am really happy today for fulfilling the crowning attainment to build my career to reach the rank I have reached.
“I am privileged to have a mentor and somebody I have looked up to and who started me out very early . By strip of luck and natural occurrence he was appointed the military governor in the General Sani Abacha’s regime. May his soul rest in peace. And I happen to become his ADC, he picked me from nowhere. We never met; we didn’t interact before that time. Even when I reported for the appointment, those who came to congratulate him were asking; where is your ADC? And even when I was there, he would say, “He is coming from port Harcourt”. But he didn’t know I was the one. It was somebody that had to tell him that, “That is the ADC”.
“So, I have been privileged, by the time I did that I was barely a year as an officer. I was a very young officer; a lieutenant. And after that, I have been privileged to occupy very challenging offices. I have also attended mandatory and other optional courses you know in the course of my career. It has equipped me with the kind of experience required of the status I have today, and without sounding self-praising, I think those who have been assessing us overtime; which is not one person, and is a progressive process, have always found me meeting the requirements and I think all of that counts at the end of the day.
“At the end of the day, it will be a lot of things that brought me to this rank. Several people have done and they never climbed to it not because any special thing happened to them, just the dynamics of the system. I think it has come out well in my own case.”
Speaking about his achievements in managing Apapa traffic situation, he said, “I think one of the significant legacies I will leave this place with when I leave my office is addressing the gridlock. It’s been a perennial situation and it cost the nation a lot, and really it is not only material costs and all of that. There is a serious potential for total breakdown of everything we hold dear if this situation is not dealt with.
“It is not like I don’t have idea of how to permanently resolve it, but there are many factors, and some of them I wouldn’t like to just come here and open up. But I have a blueprint right now, and I have not just developed it, but also presented it to Lagos State Government. I have also served it to the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) management.
“At a time I was told they were processing it to present it to federal executive council for a national policy. It is simple without going to bother about structural requirement and all that because it will be a long term thing. You know the road. To open up other ports and bring in the rail system. The main problem right now that is driving these trucks crazy is the fact that the shipping agencies; those that they do business with, exploit them.
“They get them to pay while they are sitting on these roads. They also hold the responsibility to admit them. They made it difficult with all kinds of excuses and would not admit them until they paid the money. I say, that kind of money is not a just charge, it should be suspended. I had them suspended for three months.
“I mean; if you do that these people will have no reason to head on to the port at the same time. I could then talk to them and ask them to withdraw their containers, put them in their private premises, and then we will free the road, and the trucks themselves will be free. We will have the road and organise the limited holding, on the days that these shipping companies have. They evacuated the containers and they also promised to bring what they call sweepers.
“Sweepers are empty ships that only load and go. They bring these sweepers and we have done this demurrage suspension, we will have the roads back, and we will have the trucks. Because the same trucks we will use are the ones that are carrying these containers and sitting at one place. So we need to give, remove that ineffective and make sure that they are not driven and compelled in a way that they all head to the port at the same time.
“That way, systematically we can be moving them, and make sure that no one brings more than what is taken out of the country. That will just solve the problem but the grit of the shipping agency is the stumbling block and they have big money. They can really influence policy.”
Speaking on his security apparatus for the much awaited general elections, Eyo said, “Well, that is our normal routine. In fact, that is why we exist. We have conducted the different orders, against crime and maritime breaches, piracy, smuggling, kidnapping, and illegal bunkering. All these things we have done, and even now we are still doing it, because it is a mandatory daily routine.
“It’s not only in Nigerian waters that they have maritime crimes. Maritime crime is a global thing, and it is common sense to know that it because of the openness of water. We are like police on the waters. But it is really not a simple thing to police water. In our command here, we have done a lot of arrests. We have been able to reign in on many of these bad guys. I don’t want to start mentioning names here but many of them are undergoing further investigations. Some of them have been charged to court. Some of these guys; because it is an international network from Senegal to Gabon, Beecroft have been able to apprehend a lot of these people. Those we have taken out cannot operate again.
“So it is what has stemmed especially this yuletide period. We have heard a lot of things, but we just pray that they face appropriate justice so they don’t return back to the system”, he said.
In some goodwill messages rendered by some family members of the celebrant, they described the Eyo as a humble, peace loving and hardworking individual, who has contributed immensely in every duty post he had ever worked, and likewise prayed to God to keep nourishing him with more wisdom and understanding, especially in the discharge of his duties as required of his new office.