THE recent decision by the Nigerian Navy Board to establish a Naval Base in Kano, which is 991.8 kilometres from the Navy’s main operational base in Lagos, is just another typical Nigeria-style decision which adds very little to nation’s quest to secure her maritime territory and assert itself as a dominant marine force.
A statement from the Naval Headquarters signed by Navy Commodore Suleiman Dahun, argued that the proposed Kano Naval Base is only a “stone frigate”, which does not need proximity to a water body, adding that such dry bases already exist.
The Kano State Government has already allocated 100 hectares of land for the project which will increase federal presence and create additional employment opportunities for the state.
The question, however is: how prudent or even commonsensical is this policy as a military decision?
We do not support this move, not because the Navy should not have bases in the North.
Far from that. We would have absolutely no objection if such a facility is billed for any location along the Niger and Benue rivers.
They have flowing dams which can provide suitable bases for naval activities. Also, a naval base in the Lake Chad area would make a lot of sense because of our international maritime borders and the threat of jihadist terrorism.
It is spurious to argue that because the Navy has its Finance and Logistics Base in Owerrinta, Abia State, the same logic can be stretched to site naval bases far up North.
Owerrinta and Ota are an hour’s drive to the nearest naval bases in Port Harcourt and Lagos. The contiguity advantage applies.
We strongly believe that it serves the national interest better to have all our naval establishments and resources within our maritime precincts, especially now that the Nigerian international waters are ranked among the most pirate-infested in the world.
Also, a lot of militancy, theft, unauthorised dumping of toxic waste and indiscriminate abandonment of disused ships, boats and canoes by mariners from all over the world leave a lot of work for our Navy and its civilian counterparts such as the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency, NIMASA, to tackle.
The Navy needs to expand and upgrade its existing facilities and capabilities at its operational bases to serve the nation better. Moving our navy bases into distant dry areas is wasteful and unacceptable.