Nigerian Navy Expresses Confidence On French Navy Partnership

Hyacinth Chinweuba

The Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Western Naval Command (WNC), Rear Admiral Yakubu Wambai, has said that the technical collaboration between the Nigerian Navy and the French Naval Ship BORDA, for trainings and Sea passage exercises would further enhance the improved security experience in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG).

Rear Admiral Wambai, who hosted the visiting French Naval Ship and its crew at the Headquarters Office at the Naval Base in Apapa, Lagos, said the collaboration would further build the Nigerian Navy’s technical strength in hydrographic activities.

“The French Naval Ship BORDA is on a port call, which is customary. Though this is a specialised ship, a hydrographic ship, which is here in fulfilment of technical support to NNS LANA.

“While here, they will work and train together, to continue to build our ability in the hydrographic field. This is the continuation of our collaboration with France. They have been our technical partners, building our ships and training us,” Adm. Wambai said.

Speaking on the value addition of such collaboration, the FOC West said: “It marks a remarkable turning point for our collaborative efforts as we continue to seek better times in the Gulf of Guinea.

“Not long ago, Nigeria was delisted from piracy-prone states, and this was possible as a result of our collaborations, not only of Nigerian Navy, but other stakeholders as well. We hope to see more of these kinds of visits and hope to go back to the old days when we also pay port calls to foreign nations.”

On his part, Commanding Officer of the French Naval Ship- Lt. Commander Pierre- Henry Lavergne, described his experience so far with the Nigerian Navy Ship LANA as very welcoming as he looked forward to more engaging activities.

“It is a great pleasure for me and my crew to be in Lagos for the hydrographic cooperation with NNS LANA since four days of being here,” the Commanding Officer said.

French Defence Attaché, Col. Dujon Guillaume, said the first step in the cooperation since the acquisition of NNS LANA from a French company, OCEA, has shown that they would want more engagement with the Nigerian Navy in the future as well.

He said: “Here for some consistent collaboration on hydrography with the NNS LANA. This is the first step in this corporation after the acquisition of NNS LANA from OCEA Company.

“We are looking forward to more cooperation in the future. It is a honour, and France is happy to provide this support to Nigeria, for the development of maritime security and the Blue Economy, on regional perspectives.”

NNS LANA (A499) is designed and purposely built to enable the navy conduct hydrographic and oceanographic surveys.

In the same manner, the Indian National Defence College team led by Maj. Gen. Rajesh Moghe, thanked the Nigerian Navy for a warm reception and disclosed that the team had learned a lot from interacting with particularly the Ministry of Defence, while they expect to have richer understanding of the security briefing as it concerns the coastal areas.

He said: “In the past one week of visiting Nigeria, we have been exposed to various branches of governance here as well as some think-tanks and notably among them have been the Ministry of Defence (Headquarters) also the resource centre in Abuja and the Institute of international Affairs.

“As we have been moving from the hinterland to the coast, we have been exposed to what is happening to your north-east and now coming to the area of the Atlantic Ocean, we will understand the briefing that you will be giving us.”

Maj. Gen. Moghe had earlier introduced the Indian Defence College team as being comprised of 120 members with 40 from Indian Army, 12 from the Indian AirForce, nine from the Indian Navy, 21 from the civil services, including administrators from the revenue services, and industry, and approximately 40 from the foreign services from about 22 countries.

He said the course was broken into eight teams and each of the teams were visiting Nigeria and Italy, where they shall spend the next one week of the study tour.

Director of the Multi-national Maritime Co-ordination Centre, Zone E, Capt. Toriseju Vincent, made a presentation to the team, on the contributions of the Centre to the Gulf of Guinea security.

Contributing, Rear Adm. Wambai said officers on the programme have definitely been recognised for leadership and responsibility and therefore would be expected to perform in same regards.

He told the visiting team how the spate of piracy attacks between 2005 and 2010 necessitated the establishment of Zone E of the Yaounde security architecture, covering coastal states of Nigeria, Benin Republic, Republic of Togo, and landlocked country of Niger, which processes nearly all its imports/exports through the coastal states.

The FOC West also explained to the team how much have been achieved with the security architecture and the agreements that have taken removed unnecessary bureaucracies that had hitherto truncated actions against piracy attacks.

He said: “For the naval officers here, it was almost impossible like five or six years ago, for a Nigerian Navy ship to sail into Benin Republic waters or to sail into Cameroon waters. But today, just with a phone call we can pass into Benin Republic in hot pursuit and effect arrests.

“Similarly, where they don’t have capacity, they can also call us and say they have issues in whatever place; we do not have protocols to say they must go to the President first, no. That has already been bridged. We have a set-out standard that once assistance is needed, at my level I can deploy my ship for necessary action.”

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