President Muhammadu Buhari has commended the Nigerian Navy under the watch of the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo for investing in sports development in the country.
Speaking at the opening of the 12tth edition of the Nigerian Navy Games at Navy town, Buhari expressed confidence that the games will create a forum for the Nigerian Navy to achieve stronger ties and instill discipline among its personnel.
President Buhari also commissioned the newly constructed naval ultra-modern sports complex, venue of the games at the Navy town in Ojo, Lagos.
The sports complex equipped with state-of-the-art indoor sporting equipment and world class gymnasium also has a swimming pool and a standard football pitch as well as tracks for athletics events.
Speaking, Buhari said, “Over the years, sports have remained a tool to strengthen the ties between troops, instilling discipline and readiness to serve a common cause in the military. I am sure that these Games will create the forum for the Nigerian Navy to achieve these objectives and more.
“This occasion also showcases the investment undertaken by the Nigerian navy in sports development.
“The construction of this sports complex has provided a standard venue for the Nigerian Navy to host major games as well as an appropriate venue for naval personnel within Lagos to use for training and other recreational purposes.
“I am therefore confident that besides the conduct of the Games, the Nigerian Navy and its personnel will continue to make good use of the facilities in this complex,’’ he said.
Buhari expressed the hope that the games will provide the needed platform and avenue for the discovery of new talents who will go on to represent the Nigerian Navy and Nigeria in international competitions.
He, therefore, urged all participating athletes to inculcate fair play and exhibit a high level of decorum during the games.
“I note that all commands in the Nigeria Navy are participating in the games. This means that the Nigerian navy can take stock of the level of preparedness of its personnel while encouraging the development of team spirit among its personnel.
“The games should therefore provide a glimpse of what Nigerians expect from the Nigerian Navy.; dedication, commitment, unity, oneness and comradeship,” Buhari said assuring that the federal government will continue to encourage sporting activities in view of its importance towards national coerciveness and unity.
The President also thanked the Lagos State government for supporting the Games and cooperating with the military in the State, describing the goodwill as highly commendable.
Meanwhile, the President has urged Nigerians to believe in the capability of the armed forces to safeguard and bring long-lasting peace and stability to the country.
The President assured Nigerians that the armed forces would continue to sustain their operational tempo to contain the security challenges in the country.
He said the security agencies would continue to ensure that all appropriate measures were in place for the safety of Nigerians.
The President also re-emphasized the importance of synergy between the armed forces, other security agencies and the general population for peace and security.
Earlier in his remarks, Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, described the commissioning of the sports complex as a dream come true.
The CNS recounted that the ultra-modern edifice was conceptualised and constructed by the immediate past Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas (rtd) but the commissioning could not be actualized due to restrictions imposed by the COVID – 19 pandemic.
The Naval Chief noted that contemporary warfare generally described as being volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, places a huge demand on personnel combat readiness and thus necessitates the need to sustain high levels of physical fitness and mental alertness.
He added that physical fitness and mental alertness of personnel has become key considerations for armed forces to meet increasing demands of the current operations environment of the Nigerian Navy, which has recorded significant appearances at local and international competitions.
The CNS pledged that the Navy would sustain the fight against crude oil theft and other maritime crimes, ensuring that the country maintains its delisting from nations of high piracy risks.
He expressed delight that Nigeria exited from the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy List early in the year and no incidence of piracy has been recorded in the last one year, adding that this attests to the Nigerian Navy’s willingness and resilience to ensure a safe and secure maritime environment for socio-economic activities to thrive.
The Naval Chief also used the occasion to thank the President for his unquantifiable support to the Nigerian Navy, saying, ‘‘The President within the last year approved the acquisition of two 76m High Endurance Offshore Patrol Vessels and 3 helicopters to join the recently acquired hydrographic survey ship and the Landing Ship Transport, including numerous fast attack craft to boost maritime security operations.
‘‘Mr President, it is pertinent to state that induction of Landing Ship Tank, Nigerian Navy Ship KADA into the Fleet has further enhanced Nigerian Navy’s naval power projection, within the region and beyond.’’
‘‘Significantly, the ship embarked on its first official trip last month, with military hardware and logistics for the Nigerian Contingent deployed for ECOWAS Stabilisation Support Mission at Guinea Bissau. This further confirms your administration’s commitment towards regional stability in furtherance of our foreign and defence policy objectives.’’
In his goodwill message, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos described the Nigerian Navy as a strategic partner to the ‘‘coastal State of Lagos’’ on security of lives and property.
He, therefore, thanked the President for approving the establishment of a new Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Lekki axis, one of the fastest growing industrial, commercial and residential development areas in West Africa.