Change presents humanity with a confounding paradox. Whereas change is constant and inevitable, it forebodes a vague sense of uneasiness. Fear of the unknown taunts the nerves of even the valorous of men. Men of destiny however prepare for change, meeting it at the doorstep with secure pace .The Nigerian Navy got a breath of fresh air on January 26, 2021 with the appointment of Rear Admiral AZ Gambo to succeed Ibok Ekwe Ibas as the highest ranking Naval officer in Nigeria. The Nigeria navy is among the largest navies on the African continent, consisting of several thousand personnel, including those of the coast guard.
One of the challenges before the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) is safeguarding Nigeria’s territorial waters. The Gulf of Guinea is another security challenge, which has become dangerous and threatens the country’s utilization of its full economic potential. This vast maritime space has utmost economic significance to the adjoining countries with a vast coastline of 20 sovereign coastal states and islands, and a number of landlocked states.
According to a report by the International Maritime Bureau of the International Chamber of Commerce, a total of 121 acts of maritime piracy were recorded in the Gulf of Guinea in 2018. In 2019 incidents rose to 195, and Kidnappings by pirates in the GoG hit the record in 2020, with well-armed and violent gangs defying Regional Navies. The UN reported that Nigeria lost about $2.8 billion to piracy as a result of crude oil and maritime crimes.
This is a worrying trend that can only be resolved through increased information exchange and coordination between vessels, reporting and response agencies in the Gulf of Guinea Region. Latest statistics show that this is one of the problems that the Chief of Naval Staff will ensure to tackle due to the increased capabilities of pirates in the Gulf of Guinea with more and more attacks taking place farther from the coast. This requires prompt action with urgent need to address these crimes, which continues to have a direct impact on the nation’s economy, and security of innocent seafarers.
Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo’s appointment came at a period when the country was facing serious security challenges and he has, as expected from Nigerians, hit the ground running by tackling the worsening insecurity across Nigerian territorial waters which have been making life difficult for Nigerians.
Without doubt, he hit the ground running by unveiling his vision and mission envisioned by the type of the Navy during his maiden meeting with principal staff officers, flag officers commanding and commanders of autonomous units of the Nigerian Navy directed all operations commanders to sustain aggressive clearance operations to make suspected militants, pirate camps Non-Conducive for any nefarious activities to thrive and rejected the resurfacing incidents of piracy and sea robbery within Nigerian waters.
Henceforth his stewardship will also focus on human capacity development through Result-Oriented training for enhanced professionalism and as well as strengthening logistics support and maintenance capabilities to sustain equipment serviceability and platform availability.
The Chief of Naval Staff intends to actualize his Vision and Mission in line with Mr President’s mandate within the first 90 days in office. While doing that, the CNS called for complete loyalty from all subordinate commanders and equally promised to take issues of personnel welfare seriously.
While his statements set to guide his stewardship of the Nigerian Navy, the new chief reiterated his readiness to promote and sustain Nigerian Navy core values of Integrity, Professionalism and Teamwork and would ensure personnel welfare is accorded high priority towards enhanced patriotism, integrity, productivity, innovation, commitment and dedication.
He also pledged to ensure the security of Nigerians, personnel and officers of the Nigerian Navy and even those around riverine and coastal areas as CNS will ensure national waters remain safe from all forms of maritime criminality. The CNS has zero-tolerance for indiscipline, criminal activities and will formulate policies to sanction identified Nigerian Navy personnel that collude with economic saboteurs and other criminals.
Another important area the new Naval Chief needs to pay attention to is taming corruption and identifying the bad eggs of the naval service. The immediate past Chief of Naval Staff while handing over, lamented that many officers of Nigerian navy still connive with illegal bunkers, sea robbers, oil thieves and other maritime criminals to undermine the existence of the country. He said the negligence of the officers at their duty post is aggravating challenges in maritime sector.
The story of the 21st indigenous Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) and 9th since the return to democracy in the country, Rear Admiral Gambo is that of the triumph of the human fortune. His life is a proof that with strong will to succeed in life and divine nod to one’s actions, one can turn all obstacles to blessings. The effort of this gentleman makes him to attain greatness by building fruitful Navy career from the bottom up the top echelon of top the Nigerians Navy.
The new CNS’s quick start in office clearly shows a great sense of responsibility, exceptional courage, sincerity of purpose and readiness to take the organization to higher unprecedented level. There is no doubt that his legacies shall remain eternal source of inspiration for many generations to come.
Dukawa and Danyaro write from Kano, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org