…vessel to enhance maritime security – Admiral Gambo
By: Okosun Dennis
The existing cordial diplomatic and military relationship between the People’s Republic of China and Nigeria has been further strengthened with a donation of a 46-metre patrol vessel to the Nigerian Navy and some hardwares to the Nigerian Army.
In a grand joint hand over ceremony on Friday, 28th October, 2022 held at the NNS Beecroft Parade Ground, Apapa, the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency Cui Jianchun, who made the donation on behalf of his government said the vessel would help in combating pirates and increase military might against terrorists and bandits.
Reflecting on the diplomatic relationship that has existed between the two nations, he noted that both countries have great challenges in terms of economic, population and domestic challenges but could work together to build confidences and “let the people know of our competences to fight against terrorists, bandits and piracy.”
“Right now, there are no cases of piracy. In 2021, there were 12 cases of pirates but in 2022, it is zero case and these are tremendous achievements by the military. With these equipment, your military can patrol and keep the maritime domain safe,” Amb. Jianchun added.
While accepting the equipment, the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Salihi Magashi (retd), who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Dr Abubakar assured that the military equipment and the Patrol Vessel would be deployed to enhance operational effectiveness of the Armed Forces for improved security.
On whether the country feel threatened by the donation, the minister averred, “There is no threat. We know China as a super power and our coming together is good for the two countries as it would enhance and strengthen the capability of our military. We can only be stronger with a robust relationship with a country like China.”
In his remarks, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo expressed joy with the donation, which according to him, “is another milestone in bilateral collaboration between the countries and a test to China’s willingness and resilience in safe and secured maritime environment for social and economic activities to thrive in Nigeria and beyond.
The CNS further explained that the tremendous support from China which dated back to many decades ago and has positively enhanced capacity of the Nigerian Navy and would further booster its presence at sea to curb insecurity within our maritime domain.
He added that towards the fleet recapitalization efforts of the NN, it had in 2015 and 2016 respectively acquired two 95.6metres offshore patrol vessels from China – NNS Centenary and NNS Unity – which have greatly impacted on his presence at sea.
“These vessels have enhanced NN security operations leading to the reduction of the nuisance value of piracy in the Nigerian maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea leading to the delisting of Nigeria from the list of pirates prone countries by the International Maritime Bureau in 2022.
While saluting the generosity of the Chinese Government, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt Gen Faruk Yahaya, represented by Brigadier General Ali Ahmadu reiterated that the equipment would galvanise renewed efforts by assisting the NA in its quest to combat the security challenge in the country.
“It would certainly help us in our operational efficiency and collaboration to build competences of the NA. We look forward to more synergy and collaboration between the NA and the People’s Republic of China.”
Highpoints during the colourful handing over were the lowering of Chinese flag on board the ship and hoisting of Nigeria flag an indication of officially taken over of the vessel ready for deployment for its primary responsibility.
There were also the signing of documents of handing over of the vessel and equipment for the Nigerian Navy by Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo and a representative of the COAS, Brig Gen Ahmadu, followed by a guided tour of the vessel.
It would be recalled that the Chinese Government has had a long history of rendering military assistance to Nigerian Navy as a patrol Vessel – NNS Sagbama – was donated by China to support NN operations few years ago.