CHUKS OYEMA-AZIKEN writes that to maintain the tempo of it’s operations, the Nigerian Navy recently called for more funding. This call is receiving support of major stakeholders.
The Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Ibok-Ete Ibas at the recent 2021 budget defence held by the House of Representatives Committee on Nigerian Navy solicited for more funding for it’s operations.
The request of the CNS was acknowledged by the members of the House who commended the service for it’s outstanding performance despite limited funding.
The House Committee also passed a vote of confidence on the Navy for good performance of the 2020 budget.
The CNS in making his request stated that Nigerian Navy had been occupied with its national policing role and that it had curtailed the activities of illegal bunkering, pipeline vandals, insurgency among others.
He said that to effectively tackle these threats in the nation’s interest, the Navy needs to budget for the acquisition of appropriate platforms, equipment and infrastructure without ignoring personnel welfare.
Vice-Admiral Ibas said that priority projects for 2021 capital proposal are fleet renewal, operations logistics, fleet support infrastructure, capacity development and personnel welfare.
According to him, ”The Nigerian Navy’s initial capital expenditure budget estimate for 2021 was N182.612bn, equivalent to $464,663,475. However, the Nigerian Navy had to review the estimates down to N20,315,649,968, which is equivalent to about $51m, which was the budget ceiling given by the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning. For the 2021 Overhead Cost, the initial Overhead proposed by the Navy was N38,362,386,414. This projection could, however, not be submitted as the Navy was pegged at N11,240,714,955, a budget ceiling given by the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning. It is worth mentioning that the Overhead budget provision is inadequate in the face of rising costs and the Nigerian Navy’s increasing operational deployments.
”For 2021 Personnel Cost proposal, Nigerian Navy Personnel Cost proposal amounts to N103,502,975,227. This amount is required for the payment of personnel salaries and allowances as contained in the manual of financial administration for the Armed Forces of Nigeria.”
The CNS stated that Nigerian Navy remitted the sum of N884.379 million revenue generated from sources such as Pay As You Earn, Stamp duty, Value Added Tax (VAT) Withholding Tax, rent of quarters, auction of scraps and unserviceable equipment as well as contractors registration fee to the Federal Government as at October 2020.
The needs of the service is obvious to the Chairman of the House Committee, Rep. Yusuf Adamu-Gagdi and his members.
During a stakeholders’ meeting with the Nigerian Navy and maritime operators in Calabar, the Committee on Navy commended the Eastern Naval Command for maintaining steady presence at sea and protecting Nigeria’s natural resources and maritime businesses.
Adamu-Gagdi said that navy’s presence at sea had been of great help in the arrest of suspected oil thieves, pirates and illegally imported rice, among others.
He then made a case for the navy to recruit more personnel to police the maritime corridors.
“From available record, the crime in the maritime industry is depreciating. The issue of oil theft to other countries has reduced as well.
“We need to sustain this tempo in reduction of crime rate in the command. As an assembly, we would do our best to support the navy with basic required facilities.
“We have seen the quality of projects and programmes that have been put together by the navy.
“We have identified challenges of recruitment and also seen the need to make sure that jetties are provided for maritime patrol,” he said.
Similarly, on a visit to the Central Navy Command (CNC) of the Nigeria Navy, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Yusuf Gagdi and members of the committee said the Nigerian Navy has done incredibly well despite the little resources available.
The Chairman decried the lack of infrastructure development in the command and said the Navy need all the necessary tools to function optimally.
“Navy has done incredibly well, we don’t hide this and we say it whenever we find ourselves. In term of the little resources made available to you the quality of the projects is highly commendable.
“But, going round the Central Naval Command, particularly the headquarters, the base here, I am flabbergasted by the numbers of issues they have here, with the one I have seen physically.
“This is a command with the least number of facilities and the issue of accommodation has been coming up in the last two years to this moment. The nature of the environment requires a lot of capital allocation to sand fill the environment before roads are constructed,” he said.
That the present administration in Nigerian Navy has done well with limited resources is not negotiable, with the avalanche of commendations beside that of the House Committee on Navy.
Commendation has come from the Director General/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh, who said the Navy has successfully enforced the new anti-piracy law in Nigeria.
The DG also expressed appreciation for the high level of professionalism and expertise exhibited by the Nigerian Navy in its collaborative efforts with NIMASSA, especially in the enforcement of Nigeria’s Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act 2019.
Similarly, the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria recommended the Nigerian Navy Reference Hospital in Calabar for accreditation with a view to enable the hospital undertake residency training for medical doctors and allied medical practitioners.
The recommendation is in view of the modern facilities and qualified medical personnel from all fields working there.
According to the Registrar of the Council, Dr Tajudeen Sanusi “Frankly speaking, the Navy Reference hospital is a good one; the hospital is fantastic with state of the art equipment comparable with hospitals that operates abroad.
“With this kind of facility coming up, we believe that medical tourism is becoming a thing of the past.
Meanwhile, the Navy is in a close collaboration with the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) to consolidate the modest achievements in domestic ship construction programme and other innovative ventures.
With these commendations and acknowledgement of the upliftment witnessed between 2015 to date, the need for more funding for the navy becomes a necessity.