The Chief of Naval staff, Awwal Gambo, a vice admiral, has cleared the air on the decision of the Navy to establish a base, in Kano State, North-west Nigeria.
The Nigerian Navy recently proposed to site a school of logistics in Kano, the home state of Mr Gambo, who was appointed the naval chief in January.
The decision drew criticisms from many who argued that the state does not deserve a naval base considering its dry nature.
Kano, like most states in the northern part of the country, has no large water body and as such has no port.
Prominent among those that condemned the location of the school, was the National Leader of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF), Edwin Clark, who wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari, condemning the siting of the base in Kano.
“I will like to counsel you, that decisions which one takes while serving the country or in any other position should be based on higher issues of national and human interests and rational consideration,” Mr Clark said.
We are everywhere in Nigeria
But speaking through the Chief of Training and Operations of the Navy, Abraham Adaji, a rear admiral, at an interactive session with select editors of media houses on Wednesday in Abuja, Mr Gambo said the force has its presence across the six geopolitical zones zones of the country.
Mr Adaji explained that the navy is not establishing an entirely new entity but rather separating an existing one.
Stating that it had become complex to manage one of its facilities which hitherto housed the logistics college, the officer said it became necessary to separate the naval entities.
“For clarity, the Nigerian Navy has a finance and logistics college that is located in Owerrinta, somewhere between Aba and Owerri.
“This college is responsible for training of both personnel in the area of logistics and finance, but due to the growth and development imperatives, it was considered that the colleges be separated and the logistics college is now moved to Kano.
“So what we are establishing in Kano is the logistics college and the finance college remains in Owerrinta,” he explained.
He said before now, Owerrinta was not the only land locked location with a naval establishment, adding that they have such locations in other parts of the north.
“We also have a provost and regulating school in Makurdi where we train our personnel in the area of naval provost duties, but I will also like to clarify that it is not only these bases that mark our presence in the north.
“The Nigerian Navy is heavily involved in the anti insurgency, anti terrorism and also the internal security operations across the North.
“In the North-east where we have the Joint Task Force ( North-east Operation Hadin Kai), the Navy has over 170 personnel that are fighting alongside the army and the Airforce to combat the threats that we face.
“Equally in the North-west where we have the Joint Task Force (North-west Operation Hadarin Daji), the Navy has over 250 persons that are fighting to counter banditry and all the other issues of insecurity there.
“In the North-central, we also have about a hundred men working alongside our colleagues to combat banditry, kidnapping, and all the issues relating to insecurity.
“Operation Safe Corridor, the outfit responsible for the management of surrendered terrorists and bandits that is working alongside other government agencies, the Navy also is represented there. We have about 15 personnel working there.
“We also have our presence in operation safe haven, the operations going on in the Plateau and southern Kaduna to combat issues relating to herders and farmers clashes in this area.
“So it is not just Kano that we are present in the North.Long before Kano, for about 10 years we have been in the North-east and since the operation started in the North-west we have been there. We have been there in the North-central, we have been there in the Plateau and all the areas where we have security challenge,” he said.
Mr Adaji said beyond defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria, the Navy is also involved in internal security.
“Like the Chief of Defence Staff has explained, beyond defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria, the armed forces of Nigeria have the responsibility to offer support to the civil authority to maintain law and order and this secondary role, the armed forces have been doing everything to develop the capacity but of course law and order is essentially a governance issue and we are working closely not just with the government but other security agencies and the civil society to deliver the much desired security in the country.
“Let me also add that the base that was established in Kano was established alongside two other naval bases that will be performing full maritime operations.
“At the Oguta lake, the Nigerian Navy is establishing a forward operating base because of increasing activities of IPOB and the ESN as well as sabotage of our oil and gas facilities and we are working alongside other agencies in the area to combat these threats.
“Also, in Lagos, the Lekki axis, the Nigerian Navy is also establishing a base. Lekki is a thresh that holds a lot of investments, critical to the economic well being of Nigeria.
“The petrol that we consume in Nigeria lands in the Lagos offshore and it is from there that it is transported to other towns and distributed for consumption across the length and breadth of Nigeria,” he added.
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