By OKOSUN DENNIS
THE premier Command of the Nigerian Navy, Western Naval Command, (NWC) Apapa, has got its 36th Flag Officer Commanding, (FOC) Rear Admiral Ferguson Dukas Bobai.
Outlining some of his thrust of office while taking over from the former FOC, Rear Admiral Raphael Osondu at the headquarters, WNC, said his goal is to ensure that the dream of the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ette Ibas as outlined in its Strategic Directives 2015-1 are vigorously pursued to guarantee a credible navy.
Admiral Bobai explained that he would follow the footsteps of his predecessor and improve on their good work in fulfilment of what the Nigerian Navy is designed to contribute to the nation. “What I want us to achieve is to work towards having a credible naval force that would ensure prosperity for our people and national security.
“We want to have well-trained naval personnel that would ensure we achieve our goals. We should know where we are going; how to get to that place and the moment we can get all this right, anything that we do will be for the best of the service,” he said.
According to him, it is a shame for a navigator that gets lost because right from harbour, he would have done what is called “passage plan”.
“As officers and ratings of WNC, I think we know where we are and the CNS has told us where he wants us to be. Our focus is that we must ensure we work getting to that place.”
In his valedictory remarks, the outgone Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Raphael Osondu, said his modest achievement in his seven months as the FOC, was that Operation Awatse has been able to drastically reduce ferocious attacks by pipeline vandals at the Ikorodu, Atlas Cove and Arepo axis and fulfilling Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ette Ibas strategic Directive 2015-1.
After a colourful parade mounted by a detachment of naval personnel at the NNS Beecroft parade ground, he said, “In September 16, 2015, I was given this opportunity to serve as the FOC Western Naval Command and I decided it would be a shame to waste it on anything less than my best.
“In demonstration of its robust policing duties, the command arrested a number of vessels for various infractions on our waters. These operations were greatly enhanced by the provisions of Regional Maritime Awareness Centre (RMAC) and FALCON EYE, two facilities that have reinforced NN’s presence at sea.
“In the past seven months, we have made a lot of arrest. We have RMAC and FALCON EYE to monitor waters and made a lot of arrest on those suspected to have infringed maritime laws. Our cohesiveness made it possible to achieve so much. We have not heard cases of indiscipline and we did not court martial anybody.
“Operation AWATSE has made a lot of arrest and the spate of pipeline vandalism has reduced in Arepo and Ikorodu areas. Even at the Atlas Cove, we are doing a lot. The challenge is that we do not have enough platforms. Operations are about funding, from the little we have; we have tried to judiciously apply them to achieve what we have so far.
“You are aware of MT MAXIMUS that was hijacked on February 16 and taken up to 390 nautical miles away from Nigeria after Sao Tome. We were able to go there and free the vessel from the hijackers. In fact, the suspects were handed over to the police last Monday for onward prosecution.
“There are so many achievements. If you go round the base, you will see some wooden Cotonou boats arrested with hundreds of drums of refined petroleum products. There is no month we do not make arrests. We try as much as possible to maintain presence at sea even with the little we have in terms of platforms.