The outgone Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Oladele Daji on Friday said that he made significant contributions in the area of operations, welfare and infrastructure during his tenure.
Daji said this during the Handing and Taking Over ceremony of the FOC, Western Naval Command which held at the Headquarters, Western Naval Command, Apapa, Lagos State.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Rear Admiral Jason Gbassa is the new FOC of the command.
Daji said that upon assumption of command in 2019, his team formulated strategies to guide maritime base resources and asset as well as enhance safety of the nation’s sea means of communication.
“This is considered germaine to promoting shipping and other legitimate uses of the sea and waterways within the Command’s maritime area of responsibilities.
“Accordingly, we engaged and sort the cooperation of relevant stakeholders in the maritime sectors and other security agencies.
“This is with a view to synergies our efforts at enhancing security of the sea lanes, the anchorages, and channels within the commands maritime area of responsibility,” he said.
The admiral said that the strategy paid off and gave impetus to the commands operational successes.
Daji said that his team ensured the operational availability of capital ships and boats as well as helicopters for patrols, interjections and credible deterrent presence in the command’s maritime domain.
“We enforced the planned maintenance system in concert with the field support group west and logistics command of the Nigerian Navy.
“The strategy encompass motivation of technical personnel, local sourcing of space and training amongst other initiative.
“Consequently, ships like Nigeria Navy Ship (NNS) Prosperity and NNS Ekun which were hitherto alongside the Jetty were revived and has since joined the league of operational vessels,” he said.
The admiral said that they developed measures and initiatives to deny pirates and sea robbers the freedom of action to operate with impunity to attack ships at sea and in the back waters.
“Accordingly, over 250 raids and clearance operations were conducted to neutralise pirate camps and criminal hideouts in coastal communities and settlements across the commands area of responsibility.
“At least, 10 arrested pirates are now facing justice at the Federal High Court, Lagos charged under the suppression of piracy act.
“Furthermore, it is on record that of the three piracy attacks on ships within the commands area of responsibility within the last two years, two were unsuccessful,” he said.
Daji said that a total of 33 ships were arrested for various infrigements including those engaged in illegal oil bunkering, crude oil theft, smuggling and illegal fishing amongst others.
“They have been handed over to relevant prosecution agencies.
“The arrest were made possible through greater integration of our maritime domain awareness facilities, actionable intelligence provided by ours and other security sister agencies and sustained presence of naval platforms at sea.
“Nigeria Navy ships and boats were at sea for over 15 hours during the period,” he said.
The admiral said that the Atlas Cove and Takwa Bay which used to be havens for pipeline vandals and criminal syndicates were sanitised.
“This resulted to significantly fewer disruptions to Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) bunkery operations within that axis.
“Clearance operations resulted in seizures of jerricans worth about N120 million and recovery of petroleum products worth about N630 million.
“Furthermore, several acts of vandalism which can cost the nation atleast N1.6 billion were foiled by the combined efforts of operation Awase, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) Department of State Services (DSS) and other operating agencies,” he said.
Daji said that the naval headquarters had approved the establishment of Forward Operation Base at Takwa Bay which would be commissioned soon to sustain the gains of the clearance operations.
He said that another key area of the command’s achievement was the welfare of personnel including various project that were executed to boost personnel morale and well-being of their families.
“The command witnessed unprecedented construction of new residential accomodations while the existing ones were renovated.
“Medical and educational facilities also received significant attention, some of the projects completed were the provision of laboratory equipment and the renovation of the four Nigerian Navy Welfare hostels.
“The Headquarters complex of the Western Naval Command, Doctors Quarters at Reference Hospital, Ojo, accommodation blocks in Mobile Road, Barracks, Ajegunle and Ipaja and navy barracks, Apapa were all given face lift,” Daji said.
The admiral said that the he operated a reward and punishment system to encourage hardwork and discourage indiscipline accordingly.
“Personnel who distinguished themselves were celebrated in public functions and no less than 42 personnel across ranks both ratings and officers were recepience of the FOC letters.
“Similarly, a total of 57 personnel found wanting received letters of displeasure and were encouraged to mend their ways.
“This measures contributed to enhancing not only personnel morale but also discipline which in turn translated to improved productivity,” he said.
Daji said that this modest achievements would not have been possible without the support of his officers, ratings and civilian staffs who worked tirelessly and selflessly.
Daji said that the COVID-19 pandemic and EndSars protest which turned violent in Lagos and other extraneous factors conspired to slow the operational tempo attained by the command in 2019.
“Diligent prosecution of suspects arrested for various crimes and even keeping them securely while adhering to COVID-19 protocols was challenging.
“However, through the support of sister services and other security agencie, we were able to surmount the challenges without breeching the arrested suspects rights to liberty.
He appreciated the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Leo Irabor and Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo for providing the necessary logistics support, leadership and guidance throughout his tenure as FOC west.
Rear Admiral Gbassa said that he would ensure to continue in thesame vein to sustain the developments and improve upon the achievements of his predecessor in the areas of perations, welfare and infrastructure.
Gbassa urged the officers and men of the command to work together in unity with him to sustain the vision in the Chief of Naval Staff.