After Reps.’ Committee’s visit to Western Naval Command, what next for Nigerian Navy?

The House of Representatives’ Committee on the Navy recently visited the Western Naval Command, the Eastern Naval Command and the Central Naval Command as part of their oversight functions. The 49-member committee divided themselves into three groups with each group visiting each of the commands.

The committee’s chairman, Mr Yusuf Gagdi, led the team that visited the Western Naval Command’s {WNC} Area of Responsibilities {AOR} for three days as part of its oversight functions.

They visited: the Navy Ordnance Depot, the Special Boat Service and Joint Maritime Security Centre, the Underwater WarFare School, the Nigeria Reference Hospital, the newly inaugurated apartment for its personnel, the Stadium, the Nigeria Navy Secondary School and the Naval Air Base within Ojo barracks.

They also visited the NNS ships in BEECROFT, the Naval Base BEECROFT, the Naval Training Command, the Naval Dockyard Limited, Naval Doctrine and Assessment Centre, the Forward Operating bases in Igbokoda and Badagry respectively.

The visit afforded the team the opportunities to interact with the men and officers of the Western Naval Command under its Flag Officer Commanding, FOC} Rear. Adm. Bamidele Daji. Also, the FOC and the Command had the unique opportunities of highlighting the various challenges affecting the various units under the WNC.

These include lack of personnel at the Naval Air base, Ojo which has only six personnel, while the Special Boat Service and the Joint Maritime Security Centre complained of insufficient boats for them to operate.

The Special Boat Service is a unit saddled with conducting maritime operations within the nation’s waterways especially in combating anti-piracy, counter-insurgency, and counter-terrorism.

According to the Command, without adequate boats it will be tough for the operatives from that unit to fully overcome piracy, insurgency, oil theft and terrorism related issues on the nation’s waterways.

The command also informed the lawmakers that less than 50 per cent of the naval personnel nationwide live within naval barracks. It commended the naval authorities for its regular and continuous investment in the provision of accommodations for its personnel. It, however, says that they are not commensurate with the rate at which the Navy recruits annually which he puts at 1,500 personnnel.

“Shortage of barracks’ accommodation can also mar the operational efficiency of the Nigerian Navy as it will be difficult to mobilise personnel  for operational exigencies during emergencies.’’

The Committee, inaugurated in July 2019 after the inauguration of the 9TH National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari, promised to ensure that more funds are made available to further strengthen the operations of the Navy.

Its chairman, Mr Yusuf Gagdi, also assured the command that the committee will look into the challenges facing the navy, especially, in the areas of finance, accommodation and recruitment of personnel.

“We know that after our oversight functions to the Western, Central and the Eastern Naval Commands, including the units that operate under them, we will still hold the largest stakeholders’ meeting in Abuja at a later date.

“There, we will be able to analyse most of the challenges affecting the Nigerian Navy and proffer lasting solutions to them and those being faced by the other maritime-related sectors.

“As a committee, with the challenges we have seen, we are willing to take decisions that will further promote the operations of the navy considering  the commitment shown by  the officers of the Western Naval Command,” he said.

Also worthy of note is the commendation by the Committee’s chairman for the Nigerian Navy’s tremendous works on the maritime front, adding that it had saved the country billions of naira that could have been siphoned by sea pirates, illegal bunkerers and others involved in sea terrorism.

“We have a competent navy that will be able to look at the kind of ships that they want, look at the type of vessels they want. They need empowerment and free hands to acquire those tools for efficient service delivery.

According to him, the Nigerian Navy needs to be saddled with the responsibility of building its own ships and “not other agencies buying vessels and ships that cannot even stand the test of time”.

He believes that with the Naval Dockyard the committee members saw, they are convinced that the Nigerian Navy is competent of building its own warships and also selling warships built by them to other African countries.

Gadgi, however, said that the committee during its visit to the Naval Dockyard noticed that the Nigerian Navy acquired some boats from South Africa. The committee challenged the Nigerian Navy to built theirs stressing that if South Africa can produce boats, Nigeria has its own Naval Dockyard that can perform such feat.

According to him, then Federal Government should in invest in the Naval Dockyard to be able to increase its capacity for building more boats.

The Nigerian Navy through its expertise had built the NNS ANDONI in 2012 and NNS KARADUWA in 2016. The Naval Dockyard Limited which serves as one of the major boat repairing facilities needs adequate funding so as to strengthen the operational efficiency of the Nigerian Navy.

The committee also says that the Navy is, indeed, a critical force to reckon with when it comes to securing the nation’s waterways band boosting the economy of the country through the sea.

Also, Rear Adm. Oladele Daji, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Western Naval Command, in his remarks commended the committee for the visit which he said must have afforded its members an insight into areas that the Nigerian Navy in general and the Western Naval Command in particular  need intervention.

“Oversight visits such as this, I believe, are designed to further strengthen institutional processes and procedures so that where things are not done properly, they can be corrected.

“I am, therefore, confident that this visit will further give you a better understanding of the workings of the navy as far as the WNC is concerned in order to know the areas for possible interventions in order to enhance our operational effectiveness and readiness.

“We have been receiving delegations before now but this has been the most engaging and most productive,” he said.

It is, however, believed that with the visit and  proposed conference in Abuja later in the year, the Navy will be empowered to have free-hands to acquire the types of vessels that will make it  serve the country efficiently without interferences from its other sister agencies.

It is also believed that it will bring about realistic transformation into the operations of the Naval Dockyard for it to be able to produce warships for other African countries.

The outcome of the conference will also aid the Naval Air Base with adequate personnel and war planes to respond to emergency-related issues in the air. 


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