Navy commits to safe polls, enhanced maritime economy
FOR a peaceful and successful conduct of the forthcoming general elections, the Nigerian Navy will cooperate with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) while also working to enhance economic growth by protecting the Nigerian waterways.
This much the Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Jonathan Ango, told journalists in Akure during his inspection tour of the naval base and school in Ondo State.
According to him, the Naval Headquarters (NHQ), under the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), is working with other subordinating commands to protect the territorial integrity of the nation, which also borders on ensuring the safe conduct of elections in their jurisdiction.
“My mission, in line with the Chief of Naval Staff’s vision, is to ensure that the safe conduct of economic activities is encouraged within the Igbokoda general axis and Ondo State in general,” he said. “We are doing this with the use of fast patrol boats and our mission too is to reintroduce new platforms in the Nigeria Navy.”
Across the country, he noted, “we support the police as part of our efforts in support of the government. We also support INEC in the conduct of elections, especially in the movement of their materials within the waterways.”
Ango explained, however, that the military is not permitted by law to be stationed at polling units but only allowed to support authorised security personnel by complementing their civil efforts to forestall violence and curtail its outbreak.
“We don’t carry INEC materials ourselves, they have boats which they use to carry their materials. Where they do not have a boat and specifically request, we will assist them in conveying such materials to the riverine areas,” he said. “Only the Nigeria Police that are the lead agency in ensuring security at polling stations, we only stand by to assist the police.”
Meanwhile, Ango noted that developing economies like Nigeria’s have a lot of challenges, like competing demands for health, schools and roads, which the President (Goodluck Jonathan) is trying to meet, but “ours is to ensure the safety of the waterways.
“Close to 70 per cent of the income to the Federal Government is from the waterways and seas. Part of our schedule is patrolling the waterways to keep all kinds of economic saboteurs away and enhancing the smooth flow of economic activities within the operation area.”
This responsibility, he noted, has been boosted by the logistic support from the Federal Government under President Jonathan with the procurement of new ships, which have immensely helped to address some of the challenges.
“With the acquisition of the new fleet, which has not happened in Nigerian Navy since 1981, during the (President Shehu) Shagari administration, this administration has given us four brand new ships, which are in the class of what we call off-shore patrol vessels.
“One of the new ships we have is Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Prosperity, it is ensuring the prosperity of Nigeria as a powerful economic nation, and just commissioned newly. We are going to be using her tremendously for the training of the young officers and men. We were fortunate to have had a ship called NNS Nwanyaro, which was commissioned in the late 80s.
“Since then, we didn’t have a training ship, but the current Chief of Naval Staff has tried, in spite of the paucity of funds, to ensure that we have a training ship so that our junior officers benefit tremendously from sea training.”
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