Defence Minister Canvasses Stronger Navy to Secure Nigeria’s Maritime Interests

Chiemelie Ezeobi 

The Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi yesterday canvassed a virile, forward looking and responsive naval force to protect and safeguard Nigeria’s strategic and vital interests within its maritime domain.

Magashi, a military governor of Sokoto State between August 1990 to January 1992, noted that failure to build a formidable naval force would expose the country’s maritime environment to the nefarious activities of die-hard criminals which would have detrimental effect on the domestic economy of Nigeria.    

Magashi canvassed a stronger and more formidable naval force at the ongoing Nigerian Navy 2023 Presidential Fleet Review Maritime Discourse organised in honour of President Muhammadu Buhari. 

On Monday, 16 warships, three warships from Spain, Brazil and Ghana as well as six helicopters and fighter jets from the Nigerian Air Force would participate in the presidential fleet review.

Presidential fleet reviews are traditional events, which navies across the world regularly conduct in order to honour their sovereigns or heads of government.

At the maritime discourse yesterday, Magashi commended the aptness and timeliness of the 2023 presidential review, particularly at a period that Nigeria “is having a sustained and unbroken 20 years of democratic transition, with higher potentials and hopes of a great future.”

He, therefore, said the Nigerian Navy had continued to play a key role in shaping this great future, saying it was imperative that Nigeria “builds a virile, forward looking and responsive naval force that will be capable of safeguarding the nation’s maritime environment.”

He observed that the need for a stronger naval force became significant, citing the resolve of die-hard criminals to carry out their nefarious activities within the maritime zone, which according to him, would have detrimental effects on Nigeria’s economy. 

He, therefore, said: “I cannot agree less with the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo,when he spoke of Mr President providing the catalyst for the Nigerian Navy to function effectively. 

“I also agree with the CNS that the complementary triune factors of the Man, Machine and Process, mirrors the sub-topics of the theme for the Presidential Fleet Review: “Fleet Readiness for National Prosperity”, and sets the tone for the maritime discourse.”

In his address yesterday, Gambo, said prosperity of nations, particularly littorals, “are inextricably linked to the huge resources derived from the maritime environment.”

Gambo added that any impediment within the environment due to unavailability of a prepared naval fleet, would have undesirable consequences on economic survival of nations.  

He said: “Prosperity of nations, particularly littorals are inextricably linked to the huge resources derived from the maritime environment. As such, any impediment within the environment due to unavailability of a prepared naval fleet, would have undesirable consequences on economic survival of nations.   

“These amongst others, are compelling reasons to further explore and unwrap formidable factors that can guarantee a prepared naval fleet poised to ameliorate maritime insecurity for prosperity.  

“Certainly, it is envisaged that this maritime discourse would provide a platform to collectively interrogate and highlight components of the country’s naval fleet readiness and how the components could be sequenced to deliver the operational objectives of the  Nigerian Navy for enhanced national prosperity.  

“It is against this backdrop that the theme for the presidential fleet review, “Fleet Readiness for National Prosperity”, was conceptualised to support this strategic level initiative and to emphasise the essence of a ready and responsive naval fleet as well as its contributions towards attainment of national prosperity.   

“A critical consideration of this concept is derived from interactions of the triune factors of the Man, representing the crew; the Machine, representing the various platforms and the Process, which encapsulates doctrine, policy and strategy. 

“In order to put the foregoing imperatives into practical contexts, the theme was sub-divided into four areas; doctrine/work up, logistics support, fleet maintenance and crew preparedness.  

“I am certain that unbundling the theme at this discourse would assist in deriving benefits of this all-important interaction, which is to project Nigerian Navy’s current and future efforts to consolidate a robust fleet that is ever ready to carry out its constitutional mandate and implied tasks, in conjunction with other government agencies, maritime stakeholders, allies and partners for the achievement of national prosperity. 

“In this regard, it is pertinent to state that the Nigerian Navy has achieved several commendable milestones within the last eight years, ranging from recapitalisation and strengthening collaborative efforts with national and international stakeholders.   

“These could not have been possible without the tremendous backing of Mr President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic.  

“The Nigerian Navy is indebted for this unprecedented support.  Therefore, we could not miss the opportunity to organise this Presidential Fleet Review in his honour, even as his administration draws the curtain in a few days.”

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