The Nigerian Navy needs $1.3 billion to acquire new hardware to secure its territorial waters, according to Navy Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Vice-Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, who is seeking the acquisition of at least five new ships.
Addressing a public hearing organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Safety and Administration, Ibas said the required long term acquisitions include a general-purpose frigate valued at $350 million, a long-endurance Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) valued at $120 million, a medium-endurance OPV estimated at $60 million, a landing platform dock ship worth $350 million and a landing ship-tank valued $90 million.
Other required assets include a submarine worth $300 million, a Seaward Defence Boat (SDB) worth $10 million and a specialised naval security helicopter at an estimated cost of $25 million.
Ibas said the new equipment would help the navy fully secure the country’s territorial waters against piracy, armed robbery at sea, crude oil theft and illegal bunkering, poaching, smuggling, vandalism, kidnapping, proliferation of small arms, illegal waste dumping and oil pollution.
However, he said the navy was concerned about the ‘substantially progressive decrease’ in government budgetary allocations for its capital and overhead expenditures since 2012.
In 2016, the Nigerian Navy took delivery of several naval defence assets and platforms in a fleet recapitalization programme that involved local construction and servicing of naval vessels.
The new offshore patrol vessels NNS Unity and NNS Karaduwa were delivered by Chinese company Poly Technologies and commissioned alongside other boats that were produced or re-fitted locally.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, last month said that Nigeria is said to be losing about N7 trillion ($19 billion) annually in the maritime sector due to leakages in revenue generation and insecurity in the water ways.
“Between January and March 2016, several attacks were reported off Nigeria’s coast. This was said to involve pirates stealing cargoes of crude oil and petroleum products. Reports had it that, no fewer than 44 ship crew members were abducted. In the first half of this year, about over 20 commercial vessels were attacked in Nigerian waters. The increasing level of attacks and violence in the Gulf of Guinea have given Nigeria and other countries in the sub-region very damaging and negative image in addition to an estimated monthly loss of $1.5 billion to the country.”
“[The] prevalence of insecurity in our waters resulted in the loss of $1.3 billion annually to Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in West Africa alone yearly. We must tighten the legal and regulatory framework to stop these losses. The only way to promote intra- African trade in our water ways is to ensure safety and security of navigation in our waters.
“What is disturbing is that pirate attacks in West Africa are said to be occurring in our territorial waters, terminals and harbours and not in the high seas which effectively stopped intervention by international naval forces. Thus, the onus is on the Nigerian Navy to stem the tide and secure our territorial waters.”
Ibas said that spending more on the Nigerian Navy would save the country $4.4 billion from oil theft, $1 billion from illegal fishing and additional $6.70 billion from general insecurity annually.