‘Navy needs N6.9b yearly to maintain fleet for maximum operations at Sea’
The Group Managing Director, Navy Holdings Limited, Rear Admiral Sileranda Lassa, has blamed lack of funding and low budgetary allocation to the Nigerian Navy for the non-maintenance of its over 250 Naval fleets for sustained operations at sea.
Lassa, who stated this, yesterday, at the Nigerian Navy Maritime Discourse on Presidential Fleet Review 2023 with the theme: “Fleet Readiness for National Prosperity,” held at the Admiralty Conference Centre, Naval Dockyard Limited (NDL), Lagos, said that about N6.9b is needed to maintain Navy’s fleet of ship every year.
Speaking at a panel session, Lassa said that funding has been a major problem in the maritime and defence space, noting that funds are vital for supporting fleet operations, maintenance and other life extension of the vessels at sea.
He said that there is a gap in the lifecycle costing and management of the Naval ships, adding that the country often procure these ships without appropriate funding plan for its maintenance.
He, therefore, said that the government must rethink the entirety of how to fund the Navy and make sure the lifecycle costing of ships, maintenance and management are taken into consideration.
Also, another panelist, retired Rear Admiral Michael Ebe, said that Nigeria depends entirely on its maritime environment for national prosperity, especially as its trade come from there.
He said that it is necessary that the country keeps its sea lines of communication open so that it can continue to prosper. He, however, said that the country needs to have the Naval fleets that are ever available at anytime to at sea.
He said that if for any reason the nation’s ships are being denied the capability to defend its interest at sea or keep its sea lines of communication open, then Nigeria’s national prosperity is in jeopardy.
On the way forward, Ebe said that the Navy should collaboration with NNPCL to construct more storage facilities not less than 100 million litres at selected locations in all Nigerian Navy operations commands.
Responding, the Deputy Chairman, Senate Committee on Defence, Istifanus Gyang, said that the bane of Nigeria has been maintenance culture, while commending the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, for upgrading the infrastructure and facilities at the Naval dockyard.
Also speaking, the Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Navy, Ajao Adejumo, said that most countries have shipyards for the repair of their vessels, while Nigeria takes its ships outsides for repairs, thereby costing the Navy more money, which is higher than its yearly budgetary allocation.
He said if Nigeria has its own shipyards for building and repairs of ships, it would be easy and cheap to maintained vessels. He said that is why the National Assembly is ensuring that the Navy Trust Fund Bill is assented to as it will go a long way in addressing ship maintenance and help the country save money lost to capital flight.