For little recognized causes, the Nigerian Navy has been getting dangerous press in current instances. I’ll cite no less than 4 storms behind, upon and forward the navy ship. It has weathered one or two, and it has to resist the remainder to keep away from hitting an iceberg because the Titanic did.
One story that went viral on social media final month was a video footage exhibiting “militants” attacking a facility within the Niger Delta and capturing “useless” three naval officers. It turned out that the “assault” was a navy simulation carried out by the navy’s Particular Boat Service within the presence of the mainstream media together with the BBC and a few Nigerian TV stations and newspapers. None of them reported what occurred, nevertheless, till the navy issued a rebuttal.
Once more, final week, some public commentators stopped wanting calling for the sack of the chief of naval workers, Vice-Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, for daring to web site a naval base in his house state. A savannah space like Kano, one argued, shouldn’t be deserving of a naval base, for it has no river deep sufficient to maintain a ship afloat. One other commentator on tv described Kano as a desert! On social media, each the knowledgeable and the uninformed had a area day lambasting the navy and its boss.
However the naval chief has finished nothing fallacious. Rating naval officers I spoke with defined that the navy additionally operates on land: a naval base shouldn’t be essentially for fight however may be an academy. All naval institutions and models are known as bases. And when they’re for operations, coaching, logistics or administration, they’re known as “stone frigates”; some don’t must have a waterfront. “There may be the Navy Finance and Logistics Faculty at Owerrinta, Abia State – there isn’t any sea there. The logistics half is being moved to Kano,” a commodore who refused to talk for attribution mentioned.
To decongest its presence in Lagos, the navy has expanded to areas aside from Lagos, Calabar Warri and Port Harcourt: College of Armament Expertise in Kachia, Kaduna State; College of Well being Sciences, Offa, Kwara State; Command Naval Drafting relocated to Lokoja, Kogi State; College of Music in Ota, Ogun State. Then there may be Owerrinta already talked about. The College of Communication and Data Expertise goes to Ife, Osun State.
The Kano base was meant to stability navy formations within the nation, I used to be advised. And what’s this balancing act? Two new bases are actually going to Lekki in Lagos State and Oguta in Imo State.
Kano State governor Abdullahi Ganduje has provided 100 hectares of land for the brand new naval base in his state, even because the CNS has appointed Captain Muhammad Abubakar Alhassan as its performing commander. By doing so, the he has merely adopted a convention set by former naval chiefs and different influential leaders: The bottom at Owerrinta got here, due to Admiral Amadi Ikwechegh. Bamanga Tukur’s spouse is from Calabar, and the city needed to win a base. There are different examples. Is it Gambo that ought to ignore his hometown?
The tempest being battled by the navy ship now could be an allegation that it grabs land in elements of Abuja. Varied land house owners in Asokoro, Bwari, Karshi, Airport Street, Wuse and Maitama lamented that naval officers had been “grabbing” their land and intimidating them. Had been this true, CNS Gambo would qualify as an admiral of the fleet and land! It’s the FCT minister that oversees land in Abuja, not a navy establishment. And if there’s a disagreement between the CNS and the minister, they need to no less than undergo the chief of defence workers or the secretary to authorities of the federation or President Buhari. Fortunately, the FCDA has stepped in: govt secretary Mrs Zali Ahmed mentioned a committee was bringing the navy, personal builders and Abuja indigenes to a roundtable. It ought to work expeditiously for peace.
You would possibly surprise what my curiosity within the navy is. Reply: the navy is my pal. In 1983 I used to be really on the verge of becoming a member of the armed pressure, having handed the examination into the Naval Faculty in Onne, Rivers State. After I left secondary college the earlier 12 months and was job-hunting in Port Harcourt, what I admired most in regards to the navy was its uniform. Every so often I ended well-dressed naval officers within the streets of Port Harcourt to inquire how I might be one in every of them. They inspired me. After the coaching interval, they advised me, I’d go house as a sub-lieutenant and with a private automobile. Lengthy story brief, I rejected the provide as a result of I used to be an solely son! If I had joined the navy then – and survived the percentages – maybe I’d have retired by now.
So, my recommendation to my navy mates is: comply with the rule of legislation. We’ve handed the period of the jackboots. Whereas constructing of naval bases would possibly look extraordinary, an obsession with land issues would possibly recommend an ulterior motive as 2023 approaches.
Vice-Marshall Gambo appeared to not have headed a navy command till his appointment as CNS in January this 12 months. He was an “underwater warfare specialist with sub-specialization in intelligence”. In different phrases, fight was not his forte as a naval officer. For a lot of his profession, he labored as an intelligence officer. Now he ought to exhibit prowess in securing life and property. Each service chief’s efficiency is greatest judged by the state of safety within the nation. And I feel that’s the marching order they acquired from the president after their appointments in January.
Gambo was acutely aware of that order when he addressed officers and scores of the Japanese Naval Command in Calabar in Might: “The Nigerian Navy has been doing its job at curbing insecurity like sea theft, piracy, together with crude oil theft and all different illicit crimes in maritime area. The extra efforts we’re making are within the acquisition of extra platforms.”
Acquisition of platforms is vital, however it could’t substitute for constructing the character of males. Whereas constructing platforms – maybe together with on Abuja land –Admiral Gambo would do properly to contemplate the consolation of different compatriots who is probably not serving within the armed forces. The safety and welfare of the folks, our structure says, shall be the first objective of presidency.
The CNS ought to anticipate a storm additionally from the Navy Holdings Restricted (NHL).NHL, whose GMD is Rear-Admiral M. Eno, and its subsidiaries are thought-about a money cow in sure circles. Among the many beneficiaries, I learnt, have been personal corporations owned by retired navy officers in addition to some serving officers getting ready for all times after retirement. Has the statutory operate of preventing off exterior aggression on the excessive seas taken a again seat? Actual property growth in alternative districts of Abuja shouldn’t be a significant attraction for seafarers.
At age 55, Gambo too ought to be getting ready for retirement. He ought to resist stress from his colleagues who may be in search of shortcuts to riches. Those that fell to such stress prior to now – akin to former police IG Tafa Balogun and former air pressure chief Alex Barde – are ugly reminders. Usually, it’s the final straw that breaks the camel’s again.
Nwamu, a serial entrepreneur, writes from Abuja.
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