Chiemelie Ezeobi writes that the recent oversight visit of the House of Representatives Committee on Navy was an opportunity to asses the capabilities of the Western Naval Command and Naval Training Command in Lagos, as well as gauge their needs assessments and challenges, which would enable them address the navy’s budgetary needs
The House of Representatives Committee on Navy recently stormed Lagos. Their purpose was explicit; assess Western Naval Command (WNC) and Naval Training Command (NAVTRAC) and their respective units. Led by the Chairman House, Right Honourable Yakubu Adamu Gagdi, the team spent three days in Lagos.
The committee visited NNS ships in BEECROFT, Naval Base BEECROFT, NAVTRAC, the Naval Dockyard Limited, Naval Doctrine and Assessment Center, completed and ongoing projects sites at Navy Town Ojo, Naval Air Base, Forward Operating bases IGBOKODA and BADAGRY. The visit was wrapped up with a meeting with stakeholders in the maritime sector.
On the first day of their visit, they had assured the Nigerian Navy (NN) of its preparedness to provide necessary budgetary supports to enable the service perform its constitutional roles of protecting Nigeria’s maritime territorial integrity.
According to Gagdi, it is their constitutional responsibility to perform oversight function on the navy in order to ascertain the true position of things, the challenges and the efforts of the navy over time in combating criminalities in our maritime domain.
He said: “The exercise is very simple and straight to the point, as constituted body of the Nigeria parliament, vested with the responsibility of overseeing the activities of NN. It is one of constitutional requirements to come to all the commands and naval formations across the country to interact with the leadership of the commands and units of the navy to enable us know the structures, activities, deficiencies and inadequacies of equipment that will hinder the smooth operations of the navy.”
Earlier, while briefing the members of the committee on the activities of WNC, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Rear Admiral Oladele Daji, reiterated the commitment of the command to carry out all assigned functions responsibly for the benefit of the nation.
According to the FOC, the command is delighted to have the committee in the command for an oversight visit in order to strengthen institutional processes of the navy. “We are very delighted to have you for two main reasons, first as law makers you are one of the key pillars for which our democracy as institution strive.
“Secondly, in your capacity for oversight function to strengthened institutional processes and procedures, so that where things are not done properly they can be corrected. I am therefore confident the visit will afford the committee to ascertain key areas for possible intervention to enhance operational effectively and readiness, the visit will afford you the opportunity to know more about the NN.”
The next day, the committee’s point of call was the Navy Ordinance Depot, Special Boat Service and Joint Maritime Security Centre in Navy Town.
They visited the Underwater WarFare School, Nigeria Reference Hospital, the newly commissioned apartments for personnel, stadium, Nigeria Navy Secondary School and Naval Air Base within the Ojo barracks.
At the end of the tour, Gadgi and his committee said they were impressed with the achievements of the commands, adding that “the Nigeria Navy within the jurisdiction of the Western Naval Command and Naval Training Commands have done unprecedentedly well and we commend them.
“Perhaps, as committee, we have our own reservations but to see military institution establishing projects according to standard and according to specification, looking at the welfare of their personnel both junior and senior officers, to see it doing the best; and to add to the morale of their engagement, I think we must commend them and aside from those physical things, personally in the areas of operations”.
On the last day of their three-day oversight visit, the
committee held a stakeholders meeting at WNC, after which they addressed the press.
The committee said the meeting was to make sure that all relevant stakeholders work together with the navy to ensure that they provide a safe and secured environment for maritime businesses to thrive and contribute to national development.
Again, commending the navy over its discipline and project execution, the committee said: “ The committee is comfortable with the level of Implementation with discipline within the WNC and NAVTRAC, as well as impression, coordination, effort and commitment.
“The committee appreciates the navy under the leadership Vice Admiral Ibok- Ete Ibas with his strategic commandants in this commands for doing what they have done. For us as a committee, we have gone round, we have seen what we are supposed to see and we have heard equally from officers of Nigerian Navy what we should hear from them.”
He added that on the second day engagement, “we have seen the problem of Nigerian Navy, we have seen the gap and the challenges the navy is facing and how the people of Nigeria will solve the problem of the navy because National Assembly represents the Nigerian people and also the power given to us in terms of provision of funds, yet Nigerian is facing a lot of challenges bringing from maritime- related crimes as well as normal issue of all insecurity and in the course of our engagement, we have seen the prominent role the Nigerian Navy is playing to combat maritime crimes, as well as insecurity.
“ For example, in one of the operation in Igbokoda, from the brief the committee received, is one of the areas that kidnappers feel as safe haven for them but due to the strategic policy’s implementation of Nigerian Navy, that axis too is becoming uncomfortable to them.”
The visit left all parties with a feeling of hope. For the navy, hope for an increased budget that will meet their need for adequate platforms and other necessities; and for the maritime stakeholders- hope that with better equipment for the navy, the maritime domain will be safer and adequately protected.