International press conference on the Nigerian navy 68th anniversary celebrations
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International press conference on the Nigerian navy 68th anniversary celebrations

On behalf of the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ikechukwu Ogalla (Admiralty Medal), officers, ratings and civilian staff of the Nigerian Navy (NN), welcome you all to the Naval Headquarters this afternoon for the International Press Conference on the NN 68TH Anniversary Celebrations 2024, scheduled to hold from Friday, 24 May –Saturday, 1 June 2024 in Lagos. Series of activities have been earmarked for this all-important event, which shall be highlighting shortly.

As the name implies, the NN Anniversary Celebration, often referred to as ‘Navy Week’, is an annual event held to commemorate the establishment of the NN as an arm of force on 1 June 1956. Today, the Nigerian Navy has grown from its humble beginning with a handful of coastal boats into a force to be reckoned with, not only in the West African Sub-region, but also in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) and indeed the entire sub-Saharan Africa.  Consequently, this Navy Week Celebration, as with others in the past, also serve as a score-card of the NN’s performance in the service of our dear nation. This can only be put in perspective by reviewing the noble achievements of the current CNS, Vice Admiral EI Ogalla, AM. Under the current NN leadership, the NN has attained the highest state of operational readiness in the discharge of its constitutional roles. In particular, the fight against Crude Oil Theft has been a huge success under the auspices of OPERATION DELTA SANITY which was re-launched in January 2024. In the 9 months of its existence, the operation has led to the arrest of various suspects and vessels involved in COT. Some of these vessels include MT KALI, MT SWEET HARBOUR SPIRIT, MT SAISNIL, MV TOKITO, MT VINILLARIS and MT SWEET MIRI, among others. This has impacted positively on Nigeria’s crude oil production. For instance, OPEC Records for the month of April 2024 state that Nigeria's Crude Oil Exports rose to #1.28m bpd in April from #1.23m bpd in March. This is in line with the President’s directive to eradicate COT in order to ramp up Nigeria’s oil production and exports.

In line with its TOTAL SPECTRUM MARITIME STRATEGY, the NN has continued to support land operations in all the Geo-political Zones. The NN has also provide all year-round situation awareness of Nigeria’s maritime domain extending to the limits of the Exclusive Economic Zone through its Maritime Domain Awareness Facilities which enabled early detection and swift response to incidences within the maritime environment. This has ensured that Nigeria maintained its zero piracy status in the International Maritime Bureau piracy rating. In terms of fleet renewal, the NN has taken delivery of various platforms which has supported its Anti-piracy, Ant-COT, Anti-IUU and Anti-illegal drug trafficking among others. Notably, the NN has taken delivery of its second offshore survey vessel, 2 x 32m FPBs, and 2 x Helicopters. The NN is also expected to take delivery of 2 x 76m OPVs from Turkey later in the year. In the area of infrastructure, the NN has established a composite operations Base in Enugu State to curtail the prevailing insecurities in the SE and NC Regions.

Additionally, the Naval Training Command was relocated to Eleme in Rivers State. In its place, the NN has established the International Maritime Institute of Nigeria. The Institute will serve as a strategic maritime think-tank for Nigeria thereby contributing effectively to global maritime discourse to shape the future of sea power and its application. Aware of the need to collaborate with other maritime security agencies such as NIMASA, NPA, NDLEA, NOSDRA, NEMA as well as foreign partners, the NN has staged and participated in several local and international exercises and operations. Some of these include EX CROCODILE LIFT/AFRICAN GRANDE AFRICA NEMO, EX SEA GUARDIAN, EX NCHEKWA OSHIMIRI, OP WATER GUARD, OP SWIFT RESPONSE and EX OBANGAME EXPRESS 2024.

Having refreshed our minds on why the NN is proud to celebrate this year’s Navy Week, permit me to highlight the key activities for the event. The Special Juma’at Prayers holds on Friday, 24 May 2024 and the Interdenominational Church Service holds on Sunday, 26 May 24 at the Central Mosque and the Queen of Martyr Catholic Church Mogadishu Cantonment respectively. Medical Rhapsodies and Naval Officers’ Wives Association Activities (NOWA) will hold simultaneously on Monday, 27 May 2024 in some NN host communities across Commands. On Wed 29 May 24, there would be an icebreaker at Eko Hotel and Suites Lagos. The highpoint of this year’s celebration will be the flag-off of the Regional Maritime Exercise and the International Maritime Conference by the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, His Excellency Bola Ahmed Tinubu who will be the Special Guest of Honour. The REMEX, which is scheduled to hold from Thursday, 30 May – Saturday, 1 June 2024, is an international maritime sea exercise involving navies from Africa, Europe, Asia, North and South America. The NN will contribute 18 platforms comprising capital ships, boats and helicopters. Some of the foreign naval ships participating include Brazilian Navy Ship APA, Cameroonian Navy Ship DIPIKAR, Peoples Liberation Army Navy Ship XU CHANG, French Navy Ship OSV COMMANDANT BIROT, Ghana Navy Ship CHEMLE, United States Ship HERSHEL WOODY WILLIAMS.

The IMC will take place from 30 – 31 May 24 at the Naval Dockyard, Victoria Island Lagos. The IMC which aims to catalyse effective cooperation on maritime security across Africa as a key driver for unlocking the continent’s immense Blue Economy potential in line with the vision of the 2050 African Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) has as its theme Promoting the Blue Economy in Africa through International Cooperation on Maritime Security will feature the presentation of 2 topical papers. The Conference will host delegations from about 21 African countries, 17 non-African countries and 13 International/regional organisations. Notably, the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the French Atlantic Fleet, the Deputy Commander of the Chinese Navy and high- powered delegations from the United Kingdom, United States as well as some African and European Union countries will be in attendance. During the occasion, the President and C-in -C will also commission 3 newly acquired ships and 2 helicopters as well as declare open the International Maritime Exhibition in which international and local maritime security related companies will show case their products and services. On the side line, the Meeting of Gulf of Guinea Heads of Navies and Coast Guards will take place on 31 May 24. The series of activities marking the Navy Week Celebration will be rounded off on 1 Jun 2024 with the commissioning of the International Maritime Institute of Nigeria (IMION) and the Ceremonial Sunset/ Reunion Dinner at NNS QUORRA Apapa and Naval Dockyard Limited Victoria Island respectively.  

Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, permit me to use this opportunity to appreciate your continuous support to the NN. I call on you to follow the events earmarked for the NN 68th Anniversary closely and give adequate publicity to our Navy. I thank you all for your time and attention today, God Bless and Onward Together.

                                                                                                    

The journalists present asked a few questions as follows:

a.        Mr Lucky from Channels TV asked for a comparison of the previous figures of Nigeria’s crude oil exports with the current figures based on the successes of Nigerian Navy’s OPERATION DELTA SANITY to curb oil theft.

The CPPLANS responded by stating that these figures originate from either NUPRC, NNPC or OPEC. He further explained that the NN does her job effectively and expects a positive impact on Nigeria’s crude oil export. For instance, during the Press Briefing, he quoted OPEC figures for April 2024 which show there is an increase in Nigeria’s crude oil export from #1.23m bpd in March to #1.20mbpd in April. These OPEC figures put Nigeria as the number
one crude oil exporter on Africa for April 2024 with Algeria and Libya in 2nd and 3rd positions.

b.       Mr Idowu Isamoku of Daily Trust wanted to know what Nigerians should expect from the Navy Week Celebration.

The CPPLANS responded by stating that the Nigerian Navy intends to use this Anniversary Celebrations to show the world that the Navy is presently at a high state of operational readiness. This assertion will reinforce the confidence Nigerians have in her Navy and show the world that the NN is ready for international collaboration combat trans-national maritime crimes. Hence the inclusion of a Regional Maritime Exercise in this year’s anniversary. Furthermore, the forthcoming International Maritime Conference will enable cross-pollination of ideas to engender improved global maritime security, which is an imperative for harnessing the benefits of Nigeria’s Blue Economy.

c.        Mr Laurie from AFP wanted to know how well the NN was doing in combatting piracy. In response, the CPPLANS reminded the conference that Nigerian Navy succeeded in significantly reducing piracy in Nigerian waters in 2022 and has since exited International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) list of Piracy prone areas. Subsequently, the NN has continued to maintain that status and international records show that there has been minimal or no piracy in Nigerian waters since then.

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