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A’Ibom Govt Launches 14 Gunboats, Partners Nigerian Navy To Boost Waterways Security

In a renewed onslaught against maritime crime, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Pastor Umo Eno, and the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, have jointly inaugurated 14 patrol gunboats procured by the state government as take-off assets for its newly created Ministry of Internal Security and Waterways.

Speaking at the Nigerian Naval Ship Base at Ikot Abasi, NNS Jubilee Jetty, where the patrol boats were inaugurated, Governor Eno emphasised his determination to boost maritime security in Akwa Ibom waterways, in line with the fourth aspiration of his administration’s ARISE Agenda.

In his words, “This event is a milestone in our determined and focused efforts to secure our waterways, protect our critical economic assets, and combat some unwholesome activities along our coastline. With the 14 gunboats, this programme will also mitigate the activities of pirates and other criminal elements within the coastal communities. This, no doubt, will boost our blue economy and water transportation within and with neighbouring states while improving the livelihood of our people living within the coastal communities.”

gunboats and waterways security
Commissioning of the gunboat by the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla witnessed by Governor Umo Eno and others.

The Governor commended the existing synergy between the Nigerian Navy and other security agencies with the state government and clarified that the operation of the waterways will be a joint task force led by the Nigerian Navy, with support from sister agencies and some locals with a good understanding of the maritime environment who may be profiled through the Ibom Community Watch programme and co-opted into operations.

“Let me emphasize here that these operations will be led by the security agencies, led by the Nigerian Navy, but with support from people who understand the maritime environment and the coastal communities. These people will eventually be integrated into the Ibom Community Watch.

Related: Gov Eno Signs N849.970B 2024 Appropriation Bill Into Law

He reiterated his campaign promise of exploring the blue economy potentials of the state and making a tourist haven out of the coastal communities of the state, stressing the need to curb all sorts of insecurity on the waterways and ensure a peaceful ambience for legitimate businesses to thrive in the riverine areas.

gunboats and waterways security

Also referring to an earlier session, where he formalised an agreement with the Navy for the building of a passenger ferry, the Governor reaffirmed his commitment to bringing back the ancient fun memories of marine transportation and other economic activities along the Akwa Ibom-Cross River State coastline.

“We promised during our campaigns that we would turn our coastline towns, such as Oron, Ibeno, Eastern Obolo, Ikot Abasi, and the rest of them, into tourism havens and boost economic activities in these areas. We are determined to develop all parts of our dear state and create jobs for our teaming youths,” the governor affirmed.

gunboats and waterways security

He therefore expressed hope that youths will take advantage of these efforts of the government to improve their living conditions and see the need to relinquish all forms of criminal ventures, assuring that the new phase of state government partnership with the security forces will leave no room for criminality.

The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, in his remarks, lauded Governor Umo Eno’s venture to explore the blue economy as visionary, given the potential in the sector to boost the economy of Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria as a whole.

Read Also: A’Ibom Govt Signs Contract With Nigerian Navy For Construction Of Passenger Ferry Boat

He described the procurement of the 14 patrol boats as an indication of the state government’s seriousness in making the maritime environment safe for business and therefore assured of the commitment of the Navy to ensure the state gets the best of security, as he sounded a “game over” warning to criminal elements who may still be hiding in the area, declaring the Akwa Ibom coastline a no-crime zone.

The Commissioner for Internal Security and Waterways, General Koko Essien retd., said the Akwa Ibom coastline, besides its long stretch of over 129km, has many adjourning rivers emptying into it and providing safe areas for criminals, affirming that the launch of the 14 patrol boats portends business collapse for waterways criminals, as the government will stop at nothing in dislodging them and ensuring they face the law.

Stakeholders in the community, including the Member representing Ikot Abasi Federal Constituency in the National Assembly, Hon. Uduak Odudoh, Member representing Ikot Abasi, Eastern Obolo in the State House of Assembly, Hon. Selina Ukpatu, representative of the traditional institution, Obong Okon Etukafia, and others, expressed the gratitude of the coastal communities for the respite the government intervention would bring to them from the afflictions by waterways criminals and promised their continuous support for the Governor Umo Eno-led government.

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