BY PHILIP NWOSU
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday laid the keel for two warship to be built at the Naval Dockyard in Lagos by Nigerian Navy engineers.
The laying of the keel came on heel of the commissioning of the third Seaward Defence Boat (SDB) christened NNS OJI, built by naval engineers at the Naval Dockyard Limited.
The locally built warship NNS Oji, is the third of its series to be built at the Naval Dockyard Limited, Lagos solely by Navy engineers after the successes of NNS Adoni, and NNS Karaduwa which were commissioned in 2012 and 2016 respectively.
Speaking at the event, , President Buhari said the new inductions to the Naval fleet would boost the force’s capability in securing Nigeria’s maritime domain.
He charged all naval personnel to maintain professionalism and ensure good use of the newly built and recently acquired platforms including NNS LANA, KANO, IKENNE, ABA, SOKOTO and OSUN.
His word: ‘‘We should note that we are in a critical period where our country is faced with a serious decline in our revenue and the security challenges we are facing.
‘‘The present realities, therefore, call for prudent resource management, innovativeness, accountability and careful maintenance.
‘‘I wish to reiterate that despite these challenges, our administration is very determined to ensure that the Navy is well supported to achieve its statutory responsibilities.
‘‘Let me assure you that the Government will continue to support the ideals of the Nigerian Navy in the performance of its constitutional duties. God bless the Nigerian Navy, God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Onward Together.”
Buhari commended the Nigerian Navy for maintaining a steady course in its drive for local content development which is in tandem with the philosophy of this administration.
He said the Federal Government’s commitment to properly equip the Navy with the right mix of platforms has seen the Service take delivery of NNS LANA in May this year from France.
‘‘I commend the business dependability of Messrs OCEA Shipyard – France, the builders of our Navy’s first-ever purpose-built Offshore Survey Vessel for a conclusive and successful execution of the contract.
‘‘Local partners should share in this commendation for their efforts at local facilitation as outlined in the Government’s local content policy,’’ he said.
President Buhari acknowledged that the Federal Government is aware of the Navy’s dedication towards ensuring the security of the vast oil and gas industry in the nation’s maritime environment as well as sea lanes of communications.
According to him, given the present high dependence on oil and gas revenues, the Navy is undeniably a major contributor to the economic well-being of Nigeria.
‘‘Arrests of those involved in illegalities have yielded results as some pirates, illegal bunkering syndicates, pipeline vandals and other miscreants have been convicted during this year.
‘‘Such successes were made possible through the enforcement of our new anti-piracy law on Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act 2019.
‘‘Furthermore, the provision of the new policy directives by the current administration of the Navy codified in such documents as the Nigerian Navy Strategic Plan 2021-2030; the Chief of the Naval Staff Strategic Directive 2021-5 and the Total Spectrum Maritime Strategy have given the Service credible guidelines and leverage for improved operational efficiency,’’ he said.
Buhari also used the occasion to laud the Navy’s efforts in the fight against maritime crimes in the Gulf of Guinea region, praising the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral AZ Gambo and all the officers, ratings and civilian staff of the Navy for remarkable achievements.