SPEECH BY H.E. MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE COMMISSIONING CEREMONY OF NIGERIAN NAVAL SHIPS; UNITY, KARADUWA AND TUGBOAT COMMANDER EDWIN UGWU AT THE NAVAL DOCKYARD VICTORIA ISLAND, LAGOS
I am delighted to be in your midst today to witness the commissioning ceremony of Nigerian Navy Ships UNITY and KARADUWA as well as the Nigerian Navy Tugboat COMMANDER EDWIN UGWU, which are about to be added to the Nigerian Navy fleet. The event of today is significant for a number of reasons.
2. First, it is most fulfilling to note that our own engineers at the Nigerian Navy Dockyard, Lagos and the Naval Shipyard, Port Harcourt are wholly responsible for the building of the Seaward Defence Boat, Nigerian Navy Ship KARADUWA and the Tugboat COMMANDER EDWIN UGWU, respectively. It is also worth noting that NNS UNITY, which is Nigeria’s newest warship, is the second of such acquisitions from the Peoples’ Republic of China and is a product of Nigeria’s growing relationship with China.
3. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to this friendship, especially in acknowledgement of the mutually helpful military cooperation, of which the Nigerian Navy has been a major beneficiary. I recall with profound appreciation the gesture of the Chinese Government in donating an offshore patrol boat to the Navy at the time of taking delivery of the sister ship of Nigerian Navy Unity last year.
4. Hence, I cannot but commend the business dependability of China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Company Limited, the builders of these Offshore Patrol Vessels for seeing to a conclusive and successful execution of the contracts. In the same vein, I enjoin their local partners to share in this commendation for their efforts at local facilitation.
5. The Nigerian Navy has shown great foresight in nurturing the vision for this ship and her sister ship. It is even more heartwarming that you have not confined your efforts to having recourse to foreign sources alone, but have braced up to take your destiny in your own hands by embarking on aggressive local complement provision to assemble your fleet. The Federal Government expects no less from you as looking inwards is the way to go amidst a uniquely challenging mix of recession and rising acute security concerns.
6. The prevailing situation is not new given the intimate connections between economic prosperity and security. For a littoral state with huge dependence on her offshore resources, maritime security is vital to the nation’s well-being. Today you are afforded increased defence capacity. This empowerment also enhances your role as instruments of diplomacy and leadership in the region and credible standing on the global stage. The Navy’s impressive strides in the area of continued fight against maritime security threats like piracy, oil theft, illegal bunkering and pipeline vandalism are well known.
7. As a truly national service, I commend your involvement and contribution in the on-going fight against insurgency in the North East. The Navy is also envisaged to play a critical role in upcoming continental programmes such as the development of sustainable blue economy for Africa adopted and signed by the African Union in October 2016. The commissioning of these platforms is to embolden you to sustain and expand your capacity and remit.
8. The Federal Government will continue to provide your requirements within the limits of our resources. Our administration is unwavering in prioritizing the commitment, readiness and willingness towards strengthening the Navy through improved training, provision of modern equipment, infrastructure and attention to welfare. I hasten however to remind you that we are at a critical period when the country faces dwindling revenues. The moment therefore calls for prudent resource management and patriotic re-dedication. I am accordingly encouraged by the steps you have taken so far.
9. The entrenchment of new policy directives codified in such functional documents as the 2011 – 2020 Transformation Plan, Five Year Quick Impact Strategic Plan and the Total Spectrum Strategy are credible guidelines for improved efficiency. I urge you to keep it up.
10. Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, once again I thank you for making this event a memorable one. My gratitude goes to all the friends of Nigeria and the Nigerian Navy for making it a success. I congratulate the leadership of Nigerian Navy, its officers, men and civilian staff for their dedication and patriotism.
11. Thank you, God bless you and like it is said in Navy parlance “Onward Together” and wishing you the very best.