In a momentous announcement at the 2023 Presidential Fleet Review held in Lagos, President Muhammadu Buhari declared that Nigeria has been removed from the list of piracy-prone countries due to a significant reduction in piracy incidents over the past seven years.
President Buhari attributed this achievement to the diligent efforts of the Nigerian Navy and their collaboration with international partners.
Addressing the gathering with the theme “Fleet Readiness for National Prosperity,” President Buhari expressed his appreciation for the successful conviction of the vessel MT HEROIC IDUN, which was caught attempting to load crude oil without authorization offshore Bonny in August 2022.
He commended the Nigerian Navy for their unwavering commitment to protecting the country’s resources.
The President highlighted the application of technology in securing the maritime domain, which has facilitated intelligence-driven deployment of naval ships.
Furthermore, he emphasized the vital role of collaborations with partner navies in curbing illegal activities within the Gulf of Guinea.
Joint exercises such as Exercise OBANGAME EXPRESS, Exercise GRAND AFRICA NEMO, and Exercise FLINTLOCK have significantly enhanced the Navy’s readiness for maritime security operations, according to President Buhari.
In addition, President Buhari expressed gratitude for the donations and mutual military cooperation received from shipbuilding partner nations, which have encouraged local shipbuilding initiatives by the Nigerian Navy.
He acknowledged the Navy’s achievement in indigenous shipbuilding, including the construction of three Seaward Defence Boats: NNS ANDONI, NNS KARADUWA, and NNS OJI.
The President also announced the upcoming construction of two more Seaward Defence Boats, scheduled to be completed by 2024, expressing confidence in the Navy’s ability to construct larger ships for itself and other regional navies.
Highlighting the strategic importance of Lagos State and its stakeholders in the nation’s economy, President Buhari commended the government and people of Lagos State for their critical support to the Nigerian Navy and their contribution to the success of the Fleet Review.
He emphasized the necessity of maintaining cordial working relations due to more than half of Nigeria’s maritime trade passing through ports located in Lagos.
President Buhari concluded his address by praising Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, the Chief of Naval Staff, and the entire Navy personnel for their splendid conduct of the “historic event.”
Subsequently, President Buhari inaugurated two ships and a Navy helicopter during his visit to the Nigerian Navy Ship, NNS Sokoto.
The newly commissioned assets include a helicopter (NN410) from Italy, NNS KADA, a landing ship transport built in the United Arab Emirates, and NNS IBENO, a fast patrol craft donated by the Peoples Republic of China.
Vice Admiral Gambo expressed his appreciation for the transformation of the Nigerian Navy during President Buhari’s eight-year tenure, stating that it has been repositioned for improved service delivery and the fulfillment of its constitutional mandate.
He emphasized that the addition of these new assets to the Nigerian Navy Fleet will further decrease maritime crimes and bolster socio-economic activities in the Nigerian maritime environment, ultimately contributing to national development.