By Femi Adesina
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday in Lagos urged Nigerians to believe in the capability of the armed forces to safeguard and bring long-lasting peace and stability to the country.
Declaring open the 12th Nigerian Navy Games, LAGOS 2022, the President assured Nigerians that the armed forces would continue to sustain their operational tempo to contain the security challenges in the country.
He said the security agencies would continue to ensure that all appropriate measures were in place for the safety of Nigerians.
The President also re-emphasized the importance of synergy between the armed forces, other security agencies and the general population for peace and security.
President Buhari, who also commissioned the newly constructed Nigerian Navy Sports Complex, commended the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, for investing in sports development.
‘‘Over the years, sports have remained a tool to strengthen the ties between troops, instilling discipline and readiness to serve a common cause in the military. I am sure that these Games will create the forum for the Nigerian Navy to achieve these objectives and more.
‘‘The construction of this sports complex has provided a standard venue for the Nigerian Navy to host major games as well as an appropriate venue for naval personnel within Lagos to use for training and other recreational purposes.
‘‘I am therefore confident that besides the conduct of the Games, the Nigerian Navy and its personnel will continue to make good use of the facilities in this complex,’’ he said.
The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces expressed the hope that the Games would provide the needed platform and avenue for the discovery of new talents that will represent the Navy and Nigeria in international competitions.
He, therefore, urged all participating athletes to inculcate fair play and exhibit a high level of decorum during the competition.
‘‘I note that all commands in the Nigerian Navy are participating in the Games.
‘‘This means that the Nigerian Navy can take stock of the level of preparedness of its personnel while encouraging the development of team spirit amongst its personnel.
‘‘The Games should therefore provide a glimpse of what Nigerians expect from the Nigerian Navy; dedication, commitment, unity, oneness and comradeship,’’ President Buhari said, assuring that the Federal Government will continue to encourage sporting activities in view of its importance towards national cohesiveness and unity.
The President also thanked the Lagos State government for supporting the Games and cooperating with the military in the State, describing the goodwill as highly commendable.
In his goodwill message, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos described the Nigerian Navy as a strategic partner to the ‘‘coastal State of Lagos’’ on security of lives and property.
He, therefore, thanked the President for approving the establishment of a new Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Lekki axis, one of the fastest growing industrial, commercial and residential development areas in West Africa.
‘‘Lekki is also home to the largest deep-sea port in Africa, which Mr President will commission soon, it is home to the largest private refinery, among other landmark investments in our country,’’ he said.
The Lagos Governor wished the over 1,800 Naval athletes participating in the Games success, charging them to display the full spirit of sportsmanship and fair play in the eight-day competition.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo pledged that the Navy would sustain the fight against crude oil theft and other maritime crimes, ensuring that the country maintains its delisting from nations of high piracy risks.
He expressed delight that Nigeria exited from the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy List early in the year and no incidence of piracy has been recorded in the last one year, adding that this attests to the Nigerian Navy’s willingness and resilience to ensure a safe and secure maritime environment for socio-economic activities to thrive.
The Naval Chief also used the occasion to thank the President for his unquantifiable support to the Nigerian Navy, saying:
‘‘The President within the last year approved the acquisition of two 76m High Endurance Offshore Patrol Vessels and 3 helicopters to join the recently acquired hydrographic survey ship and the Landing Ship Transport, including numerous fast attack craft to boost maritime security operations.
‘‘Mr President, it is pertinent to state that induction of Landing Ship Tank, Nigerian Navy Ship KADA into the Fleet has further enhanced Nigerian Navy’s naval power projection, within the region and beyond.’’
‘‘Significantly, the ship embarked on its first official trip last month, with military hardware and logistics for the Nigerian Contingent deployed for ECOWAS Stabilisation Support Mission at Guinea Bissau. This further confirms your administration’s commitment towards regional stability in furtherance of our foreign and defence policy objectives.’’
On the ultra-modern Complex commissioned by the President, the Naval Chief explained that it is equipped with the state-of-the-art indoors sporting equipment, a world class gymnasium, swimming pool and a standard football pitch as well as tracks for athletics events.
He recounted that the ultra-modern edifice was conceptualised and constructed by the immediate past Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas (rtd).
According to him, the retired Admiral’s plan was to invite the President to commission the Complex at the end of 2020, however, the commissioning could not be actualized due to restrictions imposed by the COVID – 19 pandemic.
The Naval Chief noted that contemporary warfare generally described as being volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, places a huge demand on personnel combat readiness and thus necessitates the need to sustain high levels of physical fitness and mental alertness.
He added that physical fitness and mental alertness of personnel has become key considerations for armed forces to meet increasing demands of current operations environment of the Nigerian Navy, which has recorded significant appearances at local and international competitions.
@views exclusive rights: Femi Adesina,
Special Adviser to the President, Media and Publicity, September 8, 2022.