By Sumaila Ogbaje
President Muhammadu Buhari will on May 22, induct new warships, gunboats and helicopters for the Nigerian Navy.
The Chief of Policy of Plans, Navy, Rear Adm. Seidu Garba, said this on Wednesday in Abuja while briefing newsmen on the preparations for the Presidential Fleet Review (PFR) 2023.
Garba said the fleet review, scheduled to hold from May 19 to May 22 in Lagos, has the theme, ‘Fleet Readiness for National Prosperity’.
He said that the president would inaugurate two ships, NNS Kada and NNS Ibeno, a recently acquired NN helicopter, and the ceremonial sailing pass exercise, combat and aerial displays.
“Permit me to recall that during the 8-year administration of President Buhari, a total of 20 capital ships were procured for the NN.
“The ships comprise of offshore patrol vessels, landing ships transport, hydrographic survey vessels, seaward defence boats, helicopters, as well as over 300 inshore patrol vessels and assault crafts.
“The president also commissioned two locally built ships in 2016 and 2021, and laid the keel for two more, which will be ready by 2024.
“The NN deems it appropriate to honour the Commander-in-Chief for his support to the service.
“The PFR 2023 is therefore, organised in honour of President Buhari in recognition of his generous contribution to the service and the nation at large and to also mark the culmination of Mr President’s administration.”
Garba explained that PFR was a tradition of navies across the world, conducted to honour their sovereigns or heads of government.
He said it involved assemblage of ships and other maritime assets at a designated area for the purpose of demonstrating loyalty and allegiance to the state.
The review, according to him, also provides an avenue for the president to assess the navy’s preparedness to meet statutory obligations in maritime security, safety and defence.
“During a PFR, the president is invited to review the fleet in commemoration of a historical event, celebration of important anniversary or any other activity deemed necessary.”
“Some of the occasions to organise a fleet review include celebration of special landmarks of either the navy or country.”
He recalled that the NN had attended many Fleet reviews with the nation’s Flag Ship, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) ARADU.
These, he said, included the Bi-centenary of the battle of Trafalgar in UK in 2005 and the centenary of the Brazilian Navy in 2007.
“NNS THUNDER also sailed to Australia in 2013 to celebrate the centenary of the Australian Navy.
“More recently, the NN sent personnel to participate in the Bangladesh navy fleet review in December 2022,” he added.
Garba said that the last time PFR was conducted in Nigeria was in 2010 in honour of then President Goodluck Jonathan and to mark the 50th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence.
He said that other activities lined up include capability demonstration by NN Special Forces, Defence/Maritime Expo Exhibition, and combined naval parade and exercises.
According to him, the PFR will involve 16 NN warships, three NN helicopters and a mix of Nigerian Air Force aircrafts.
“The participating NN ships are NNS THUNDER, NNS CENTENARY, NNS IKENNE, NNS KADA, NNS LANA, NNS KANO, NNS NGURU, NNS IBENO, NNS ABA, NNS OJI, NNS ANDONI, NNS OSUN, NNS OSE, NNS EKULU, NNS GONGOLA and NNS SHIRORO.
“The participating NAF aircraft are one MI35 Helicopter, one Diamond-42, one ATR-42 MPA and three A29 Super Tucano.
“Some foreign warships from allied nations including Spain, Brazil and Ghana are also expected to participate in the exercise”.
Garba said that the tenure of President Buhari marked a period of profound transformation of the NN Fleet, making it the pride of the Gulf of Guinea and one of the most versatile naval fleets in Africa.
“It has therefore become expedient to organise the PFR-2023 in celebration of Mr President.
“For his commitment to strengthening the nation’s naval assets and capability to project her instruments of maritime power for national prosperity,” he added. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Benson Iziama/Maharazu Ahmed