By Augustine Ehikioya
Bowing out as the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, on Friday insisted that his two years tenure has frontally confronted criminal activities in Nigeria’s maritime environment.
To ensure success in the drive, he said that he embarked on massive fleet renewal, robust logistics management and acquisition of additional platforms.
His tenure, he said, also put human capital enhancement, infrastructural development and collaboration with local and international partners on the front burner.
The immediate past CNS spoke at the Naval Headquarters, Abuja during the Handing Over ceremony to the 22nd Indigenous Chief Naval Staff, Rear Admiral, Emmanuel Ikechukwu Ogalla. Security Watch Africa (SWA) was there.
He said “The NN has a leading role to play in combating maritime crimes to safeguard the nation’s prosperity and wellbeing of the citizenry. The adverse impact of these crimes was and remains enormous and we concluded that they should be decisively addressed.
“The intents of the then Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the expectations of every one of us were quite clear. In acknowledgement of that Presidential charge, the Service resolved to frontally confront illegal bunkering and crude oil theft, piracy and other criminal activities in the maritime environment.
“Similarly, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, upon his assumption of office, reiterated the need for the Service to consolidate on the achievements of his predecessor. All along as your CNS, I have braced up to the responsibility of leading this Presidential directive,” he said.
Continuing, the Ex-CNS said “However, what is certain is that we proceeded with a single purpose to address the subversive and nefarious activities in our nations’ maritime domain. The devastating impacts of piracy, sea robbery, proliferation of illegal refinery, brazen crude oil theft (COT), destruction of critical oil and gas infrastructure as well as violent crimes such as kidnapping, hijack and attack on security forces, renewed our vigour to evolve more stringent operations concepts and strategies.
“To this end, we heightened our commitment to anti-piracy operations, anti-COT operations, choke point operations as well as riverine and swamp operations. To give impetus to this resolve, we embarked on massive fleet renewal, robust logistics management, acquisition of additional platforms, human capital enhancement and holistic infrastructural development and effective collaboration with local and international partners,” he added.
Ex-CNS Gambo acknowledged that he received immense support from various quarters that made his assignment possible.
He thanked Almighty Allah for His guidance, protection and providence and former President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing him and providing all the necessary support to make him succeed.
He was also grateful to the members of the National Assembly, the various States hosting Navy units and formations, the immediate past Minister of Defence, Gen Bashir Magashi (rtd).
The immediate past CNS also acknowledged support from the Ex-Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor and all the outgoing Service Chiefs.
Stressing that his tenure was able to weather the storm with the support from the PSOs, unit commanders at various levels, officers, ratings and civilian staff, he said “I charge you to keep up the high standards and remain devoted to the Service. Most importantly, I enjoin you to sincerely extend the same cooperation to the incoming Chief of the Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ikechukwu Ogalla.
“I have no doubt that you will heed this call for greater achievements irrespective of evolving challenges.
“I want to assure you that I am moving on with great satisfaction in what we have accomplished together, knowing that I am leaving you in the hands of a capable Chief of the Naval Staff.”
He congratulated his wife, the outgoing National President of Navy Officers Wives Association (NOWA), Hajiya Nana Aisha Gambo for a successful and meritorious tenure.
“I can unequivocally say that you have been a pillar of support and I thank Allah for the privilege of having you in my life. You are amazing and I sincerely thank you. In the same vein, I appreciate my loving children who embraced emotional maturity early in their young lives due to the frequent absence of their dad occasioned by exigencies of the Service. Now, it is time to make up for all the care and attention you must have missed all along,” he said.
Commending all the members of NOWA and the Naval Ratings Wives Association (NARAWA) for their steadfast love to their husbands, he congratulated the incoming NOWA National President, Mrs Ifeoma Ogalla and wished her a successful outing.
Stepping into the new shoes, the new CNS, Rear Admiral Ogalla promised to keep up the fight against maritime crimes in the Nigerian waters.
He also acknowledged that the Ex-CNS Gambo has left a high standard in the service for him to follow up on.
He said “As I step into this role, I am mindful of the significant achievements of my predecessor Vice Admiral AZ Gambo. Under his able leadership, the Nigerian Navy has made remarkable strides in safeguarding our maritime domain, protecting our national interests, and contributing to regional peace and stability.
“Most auspiciously are the fleet recapitalization efforts culminating in the hosting of a Presidential Fleet Review, infrastructural development milestones and gladly as a hydrography officer, the establishment of the National Hydrographic Agency amongst several significant achievements are worthy of mention.
“Sir, your dedication, strategic vision, and tireless efforts have set a high standard for all of us in the Nigerian Navy. I therefore salute your service and commitment to our dear nation and accord you best wishes and pray for your good health in your well-earned rest in retirement.”
He also acknowledged the invaluable contributions of the Principal Staff Officers and other senior officers under Ex-CNS Gambo.
“Their expertise, dedication, and tireless efforts have been instrumental to the successes achieved by the Nigerian Navy. As some of them retire, I want to express my deepest gratitude for their selfless service and wish them all the best in their future endeavors.
“To us still in Service, the journey is however far from over. The task ahead of us is challenging. We continually face significant threats such as crude oil theft, prevalence of illegal refineries, Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, piracy, sea robbery, piracy, various forms of trafficking and other maritime crimes.
“These are not just threats to our maritime security, but also to our economic stability and national development. But let me be clear: We are committed to tackling these security challenges head-on. We will intensify our efforts to curb crude oil theft and put an end to illegal refining.
“We will enhance our capabilities to combat piracy and sea robbery and ensure the general safety of our maritime domain.
“Indeed, I firmly believe that navigating the challenges of maritime security is a journey, not a destination. It will therefore require our unwavering commitment, steadfast resolve, and collective effort. With an ever-evolving mindset, continuous dedication to professionalism, fervent drive towards innovation, and an undying spirit of teamwork, I am confident that we can transform our maritime domain into a safer, more secure, and prosperous space for socio economic activities to thrive in fulfillment of our constitutional mandate,” he added
Soliciting for cooperation from all the personnel in order to succeed, the new CNS urged them to uphold the highest standards of professionalism, integrity, and dedication in their duties.
“Together, we will write a new chapter in the illustrious history of the Nigerian Navy and build a Navy that is second to none, a Navy that our nation can be proud of,” he said.
He expressed gratitude to Almighty God for His goodness, mercy and favour upon him, President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for his appointment as CNS.