A good percentage of Nigeria’s resources and wealth are on the coastline and deep water. This places a premium on safer Maritime Corridor. Pirates, sea robbers, crude oil thieves, smugglers, oil bunkers amongst another feast on this corridor, placing a huge responsibility on the Nigerian Navy.
The Navy in the last five years has battled criminalities in the deep waters. But despite the spirited efforts by the Nigerian Navy, the maritime sector has remained fraught with crime, especially illegal oil bunkering, crude oil theft, illegal oil theft and kidnapping.
These criminal activities have continued to take a great toll on the nation’s economy as billions of naira is lost daily.
The immediate past Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibot Ekwe-Ibas, who coordinated the offensive against criminalities in the maritime sector in the last five years, attributed the lingering insecurity in the sector to the subversive roles of some Navy personnel he referred to as ‘bad eggs’ in the Service.
At his handing over ceremony at the Naval Headquarters, Vice Admiral Ibas hinted on corrupt personnel in the Nigerian Navy, who “mindlessly subvert the system at every opportunity”. He noted that this crop of personnel brings disrepute to the Service through their unethical behaviours.
According to him, “the activities of these ‘bad eggs’ in the Nigerian Navy often mar the efforts of the Service in the prosecution of infractions”. Vice Admiral Ibas warned personnel engaging in such unethical and unprofessional conducts to promptly make a turnaround and reclaim traction.
He said: “I must at this juncture spare a few words for the bad eggs among us. Like any other organisation, the Service has its own fair share. I refer to all those who mindlessly subvert the system at every opportunity.
“Our experiences in their treachery of connivance with some criminal elements, complicity in crime commission, negligent performance of duty permitting aggravation of cases in some instances, the disrepute to the institution of the Nigerian Navy in their less than professional conduct through alleged unethical behaviours, marring otherwise lauded efforts of our prosecution of infractions, were very sad and regrettable commentary in an otherwise glowing, commendable and exemplary service from you all.
“I urge this band of undedicated personnel to please make a turnaround promptly and reclaim traction to a fulfilled and successful career.
“I am still hopeful that you would, after pondering on this, reconsider your disposition, choose the path of honour, in clear appreciation of the essence of service to your fatherland.”
The result of Vice-Admiral Iba’s diagnosis underscores the need for re-engineering the Nigerian Navy for optimal performance.
Chief of Naval Staff Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo promised a total re-engineering of the Service to meet emerging security challenges. He pledged to “leverage on all factors of national location, technology, training, teamwork and synergy to re-energise the Nigerian Navy and enhance her as a well-motivated and ready naval force in the discharge of her Constitutional mandate and other assigned tasks in fulfilment of national security objectives.”
Unveiling his mission and vision for the Navy during his maiden meeting with principal staff officers, flag officers commanding and commanders of autonomous units of the Nigerian Navy at Naval Headquarters, Abuja, Rear Admiral Gambo disclosed that the overall intention of his administration is to achieve immediate positive transformation in the nation’s security especially in the maritime domain.
He added that to achieve the new vision, his administration would focus on some key drivers, which include personnel welfare, enhanced patriotism, integrity, productivity, innovation, commitment and dedication.
Rear Admiral Gambo further promised to focus on human capacity development through result-oriented training for enhanced professionalism, as well as strengthening logistics support and maintenance capabilities to sustain equipment serviceability and platform availability.
Also, as part of the key drivers, the new administration pledged to reinforce the culture of self-sufficiency through sustained investment in Research and Development and prudent management of resources, promote inter-Service cooperation and forge strategic partnerships with MDAs, credible maritime stakeholders, as well as collaboration with international partners.
Furthermore, Rear Admiral Gambo assured that the Navy under his watch will promote and sustain the Nigerian Navy core values of integrity, professionalism and teamwork.
He also posited that the new administration would optimise the deployment of the Nigerian Navy “in the performance of her Constitutional roles and the undertaking of assigned tasks while promptly responding with commensurate actions to other emerging national security challenges”.
The CNS also disclosed that he would operate zero tolerance for indiscipline and criminal activities. He said the established policies and measures to sanction identified Nigerian Navy personnel that collude with economic saboteurs, drug traffickers/barons, bandits, kidnappers and armed robbers shall be overhauled and strengthened.
Rear Admiral Gambo, as part of the re-engineering process, warned personnel to avoid any act capable of tarnishing the image of the NN.
According to him, “such acts would be met with heavy sanctions to act as a deterrence to others. On the other hand, Nigerian Navy personnel that exhibit high integrity and positive attributes that portray the NN in good light shall be rewarded handsomely”.
The CNS added that his administration shall place a premium on human capacity development through higher training and education.
He directed all ongoing operations in the Nigerian Navy to check piracy, sea robbery, Crude Oil Theft and illegal refining of petroleum products to continue while directing all operations Commanders to sustain “aggressive clearance operations to make suspected militants, cults and pirate camps were non-conducive for any nefarious activities to thrive”.