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Nigerian Military’s Combat Readiness: President Buhari Reviews Naval Fleet

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday expressed confidence that the incoming government of President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu would continue to provide crucial support to the Nigerian Navy, maintaining the positive trajectory achieved during the tenure of the outgoing administration.

Speaking at the Presidential Fleet Review held at the Naval Dockyard Limited, Victoria Island, Lagos, possibly the last by him in his capacity as President and Commander-in-Chief, the President expressed immense satisfaction with the array of naval assets on display and combat readiness of the Nigerian military.

A presidential Spokesman, Femi Adesina, in a statement, said that recognizing the nation’s pride in the navy’s numerous achievements during his eight-year administration, the President stated:

‘‘I have no doubt that the incoming administration of President-elect, His Excellency, Bola Ahmed Tinubu will sustain the current tempo of my administration in giving the Navy necessary support to effectively carry out its assigned tasks.

‘‘My best wishes to our Navy for protecting our maritime domain and the economic prosperity of Nigeria. As I leave office on 29th May, I wish you all fair winds. ONWARD TOGETHER and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.’’

President Buhari stated that he had no doubt that under Tinubu’s leadership, the Navy would continue to acquire new assets, expand shipbuilding for export purposes, promote indigenous production, intensify the fight against piracy, and address issues pertaining to crude oil theft in Nigeria’s maritime domain.

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He noted the significant reduction in piracy over the past seven years, leading to Nigeria’s removal from the list of piracy-prone countries by the International Maritime Bureau in March 2022.

He applauded the application of technology in securing the maritime domain, which facilitated intelligence-driven deployment of naval ships and enhanced their effectiveness.

The President specifically commended the diligent prosecution of MT HEROIC IDUN, which was detected and apprehended for attempting to load crude oil without authorization offshore Bonny in August 2022.

He noted that this successful interdiction further reaffirmed the navy’s commitment to protecting the country’s resources.

President Buhari, who acknowledged the significance of the diverse ships and helicopters on display, noted that it symbolized the nation’s maritime power and its preparedness to carry out the Navy’s constitutional roles.

Praising the impressive combat displays staged by elements of the Nigerian Navy Special Boat Service, alongside a combination of assets from the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Air Force, he said:

‘‘I expect this to translate into actual capability to dominate Nigeria’s maritime environment and secure the vast resources therein for the socio-economic development of our great country.’’

Furthermore, the President highlighted the strong link between maritime security and economic prosperity.

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Given that the maritime environment serves both as a storehouse of resources as well as medium for maritime transport in the country, he stressed the importance of the safe and secure utilization of these resources to drive national prosperity and support Nigeria’s aspirations for a thriving Blue Economy.

On the administration’s efforts in recapitalizing the Navy Fleet in the last seven years, the President listed the acquisition of 20 capital ships for the Navy, comprising encompassing Offshore Patrol Vessels, Landing Ship Transports, Hydrographic Survey Vessels, Seaward Defence Boats, helicopters, as well as over 300 Inshore Patrol Vessels and Assault Craft.

During the Fleet Review, President Buhari also inaugurated several notable additions to the Navy’s fleet, including a new helicopter, NN410, manufactured in Italy, as well as the landing ship transport NNS KADA, constructed in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

He thanked the People’s Republic of China for the generous donation of NNS IBENO, highlighting the importance of mutual military cooperation with partner nations, which has also encouraged local shipbuilding efforts by the Nigerian Navy.

He declared that the Nigeria Navy’s endeavors in indigenous shipbuilding, in line with the nation’s local content development plan, have yielded positive outcomes.

‘‘Our naval engineers were wholly responsible for building 3 Seaward Defence Boats namely, NNS ANDONI, NNS KARADUWA and NNS OJI. In December 2021, I performed keel laying foundation for the construction of 2 Seaward Defence Boats, which will be ready by 2024.

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‘‘At this rate, I have no doubt that our Navy will soon commence construction of larger ships for itself and other navies in the region and beyond.

‘‘This achievement is a great pride to Nigeria and an impressive contribution to national development,’’.

On the theme for the 2023 Fleet Review, “Fleet Readiness for National Prosperity,” the President explained that it emphasizes the Navy’s ability to respond to threats in maritime spaces and the Gulf of Guinea, highlighting its pivotal role in promoting national prosperity.

He commended the Navy for effectively deploying these vessels, resulting in successes in combating crude oil theft, conducting counter-drug operations, and addressing piracy.

He also expressed gratitude to the Government and people of Lagos State, as well as other maritime stakeholders, for their crucial support in facilitating the Fleet Review.

He added that more than half of Nigeria’s maritime trade passes through Lagos ports, which serves as a lifeline for the nation’s industry and economy, fostering cordial working relations becomes even more imperative.

The President congratulated the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, and the entire naval personnel for their exceptional organization of this historic event.

Comrade James Ezema is a veteran journalist and media consultant. He is a political strategist. He can be reached on +2348035823617 via call or WhatsApp.

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