The Nigerian Navy: Year 2021 in review
Sir: The year 2021 was indeed a busy year, on many fronts, for the Nigerian Navy. The year kicked off with a change of guard at the helm of the service with the appointment of the then Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, at the time the director, Procurement at Defence Space Administration (DSA), as the 21st Chief of the Naval Staff.
Immediately upon assuming office, the new chief unveiled his vision for the service: “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.”
The implementation of the vision is hinged on a comprehensive Strategic Directive 2021-5, and a Strategic Plan 2021-2030, covering nine “Milestones”: Operations, Fleet Renewal, Logistics, Infrastructure, Human Resource Management and Administration, Concepts and Organisation, Doctrine and Training, Information and Communications Technology and Inter-Agency and Sub-regional Cooperation.
Everything that has been accomplished since then has been laid out on top of this foundation. And what a year it has been! The highlights have been numerous and significant.
Presidential approvals were received for the establishment of a new Naval Base in Ogwuta, Imo State, a new Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Lekki, Lagos State and a new Navy Logistics College in Kano; while the very strategic Naval Base Lake Chad (NBLC), in Baga, Borno State, was reactivated. 2021 was also a year in which the respected International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reported that piracy incidents in Nigeria’s coastal waters dropped to the lowest levels in 27 years.
In September, the Navy re-established the Naval Base on Lake Chad, in Baga, Borno State. In October, it launched four semi-ballistic gunboats locally constructed by the Naval Shipyard Limited, for the Defence Headquarters, in line with Presidential Executive Order 5, and in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s Military Industrial Complex vision for the Ministry of Defence and the Nigerian Armed Forces.
On a non-kinetic note, Sports has been getting some exciting attention from the Nigerian Navy. 2021 saw the establishment of the Nigerian Navy Polo Team, drawn from Naval personnel who are players and enthusiasts of the game. The team has since gone on to win its debut tournament trophy.
As the 21st Chief of the Naval Staff celebrates his first anniversary in office, as well as prepares for the 66th anniversary of the Nigerian Navy, later in the year, there is no doubt that the service today is different from the one that existed when Buhari assumed office in 2015: today’s Nigerian Navy is much-better equipped, more confident, more in tune with the civil populace and more determined than ever to fulfill its operational mandate as part of the
Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
• Samuel Olorunniwa.