The People’s Republic of China has donated a 46- metre patrol vessel and some military hardware to the Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Army respectively to assist in the fight against piracy within the nation’s territorial waters and terrorism in the country.
The equipment, which arrived in the country October 2022 was officially handed over to the Nigerian Navy on Friday at the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Beecroft Parade Ground in Apapa, Lagos.
Receiving the vessel and military hardware on behalf of the Nigerian government, the Minister of Defense, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd) who expressed appreciation for the gesture said the donation further consolidates the Defense bilateral agreement between China and Nigeria.
He said the current efforts of the federal government towards supporting the military to combat insecurity has been yielding tremendous successes.
The Minister who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Dr. Ibrahim Abubakar Kana, said the high-grade military equipment and patrol vessel would further boost socio-economic development for enhanced national security as well as regional stability.
He said, “With the support and donation of equipment and platforms from strategic partners like the People’s Republic of China, capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria would be further improved.
“These will no doubt boost socio-economic development for enhanced national security as well as regional stability. This means that the impact of this donated equipment will not only be felt in Nigeria, but in the West Africa Sub region, as well as the whole continent of Africa.
“I accept the military equipment as well as the patrol vessel and assure you that these equipment and platforms will be deployed to enhance the operational effectiveness of the Armed Forces for improved security.”
In his remarks, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo said the support from China towards enhancing the capability of the Nigerian Navy to bolster presence within the maritime domain over the years has been tremendous.
“It will be recalled that as part of the fleet recapitalization efforts through the uncommon support of the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal of Nigeria, the Nigerian Navy acquired 2 x 95.6m Offshore Patrol Vessels from China; These are NNS CENTENARY and UNITY, which joined the Nigerian Navy Fleet in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
“Sequel to these acquisitions, a 46m Patrol Vessel, NNS SAGBAMA, was donated by the Government of the People’s Republic of China to support Nigerian Navy operations.
“I am happy to state that these vessels have been able to enhance the Navy’s maritime security operations efforts, which significantly reduced piracy within Nigeria’s maritime domain as well as the Gulf of Guinea and eventually culminated in delisting Nigeria from the list of Piracy Prone Countries this year by the International Maritime Bureau.”
The CNS said the addition of the vessel by the Chinese government would further enhance the navy’s presence at sea towards curbing insecurity within the nation’s maritime domain and beyond.
“I am delighted that today’s donation of this 46-metre patrol vessel to the Nigerian Navy marks another milestone in the bilateral collaboration between our two countries, and also attests to the People’s Republic of China’s willingness and resilience to ensure a safe and secure maritime environment for socio-economic activities to thrive,” he said.
Also speaking, the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Cui Jian Chun, who signed the document for the handing over of the vessel, said Nigeria and China had enjoyed cordial bilateral relations since it was established in 1971.
Noting that Nigeria is an important country not only in Africa but in the world, the Chinese Ambassador assured the Federal government of China’s continuous support in its efforts to address security challenges in the country.
He said, “This ceremony highlights two key points.First, I want to let you know is that the Chinese government supports Nigeria. This support, I want to assure you would be sustainable because Nigeria has been supporting Chinese core interest and I believe that your support really deserves Chinese support.
“Second is the political will in the military system. So, I think that the two countries can work together if we have the political will to fight against insecurity, I believe we can achieve victory.”
To combat insecurity in Nigeria, Mr. Chun said it was important for both countries to work together and leverage on the use of technology and deployment of state-of-the-art equipment as well as human resources capacity to drive the dream.
“Technology driven solution is a dream not only for the Chinese military but also for the Nigerian Armed Forces. So technical things are very important for the two countries.
“Second, we need state-of-the-art equipment to equip our military. We also need the human resources- that means how to seek ideas to build the qualified, sufficient and creative human resources,” he said.
Representative of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Tunde Mustapha in his remarks, said the donation of the vessel and military equipment by the Chinese government is part of the ongoing bilateral cooperation between Nigeria and China.
He said the over 50 years of cordial diplomatic cooperation between Nigeria and China has resulted in the signing of 16 MoUs adding that trade relations between both countries have grown to $25billion annually.
“In February 2021, Nigeria and China celebrated 50 years of diplomatic relations which was very cordial and this relation has resulted into the signing of 16 MoUs between both countries and one of them is the one on Defence Cooperation, the result of which we are witnessing today.
“Trade relations between Nigeria and China are growing every year. The last statistics we have as of 2020, the trade relation is more than 25 billion dollars annually. There has been growing political trust between Nigeria and China over the years and we are committed to the one China policy,” he said.
The Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral YB Wambai, said that recapitalising the Nigerian Navy fleet at this time when the contemporary maritime security environment has thrown up dimensions of threats, would enable the navy to effectively confront and mitigate such problems.
He said, “Today’s event couldn’t have come at a better time, while appreciating the operational fleet recapitalisation trajectory of the Nigerian Navy. It is noteworthy to state therefore that with this addition to the Nigerian Navy’s fleet and those in the offing as well as other recent acquisitions both in aviation and surface platforms, the Nigerian Navy is now better-enabled and poised to perform its constitutional roles.”
Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Cui Jian Chun, and the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, signing the document for handing over and receiving of the 46-metre patrol boat at the NNS Beecroft Parade Ground in Apapa, Lagos on Friday.