Gambo: The gamechanger general of the Nigerian Navy
By Bala Ibrahim
Since January 26, 2021, when President Muhammadu Buhari appointed the then, Rear Admiral Auwal Zubairu Gambo as the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), the seed was sown, for a holistic approach to the unified security design of the Nigerian Navy in particular, and the overall security architecture of Nigeria. Now Vice Admiral Gambo seems to have stepped into office with the mind-set of a game changer, because, no sooner than he took over from his predecessor, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas, he began to formulate and execute policies, geared towards the attainment of operational competence of the Nigerian Navy, and maximum maritime security.
Through the use of patriotic and professional personality traits, he was quick to solicit the support and cooperation of like- minded colleagues, with a view to altering the way things are done in the navy. He made it clear to all that, the era of business as usual is over, especially with regards the menace of maritime piracy.
Game changer Gambo hit the ground running by initiating a tough and robust anti-piracy drive, in order to challenge maritime crimes, particularly piracy, kidnapping and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea.
Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea affects a number of countries in West Africa as well as the wider international community, an issue that is of global concern, and one that is constantly embarrassing Nigeria.
Pirates in the Gulf of Guinea are often part of heavily armed criminal enterprises, who employ violent methods to kidnap crew and steal consignments of oil cargo. According to the report of the Oceans Beyond Piracy and the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Program, the number of vessels attacks by West African pirates had reached a world high, with almost 1000 seafarers attacked in one year alone.
Before the coming of Vice Admiral Gambo, piracy in the Gulf of Guinea was of utmost concern to the shipping industry, which is affected badly. The menace was maintaining a high steady level of attempted hijackings, and Nigeria was daily recorded in the bad books of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).
However, pursuant to the tough measures put in place by the game changer Chief of Naval Staff, the situation is changing dramatically for the good of Nigeria, which has just been delisted from the piracy list of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).
According to a disclosure by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Naval Headquarters, Abuja, Rear Admiral Suleiman Garba, at the Joint Nigeria-European Union collaborative ceremony, which held on Thursday at the Western Naval Command, Apapa, Lagos, the IMB has exited Nigeria from it’s Piracy List.
Rear Admiral Garba, who represented the CNS, Vice Admiral Gambo, explained that this feat was achieved following the significant success occasioned by the Nigerian Navy’s increased maritime security operations against maritime criminalities in collaboration with other agencies.
“The commitment of the Nigerian Navy towards maritime security has yielded dividends and a lot has been achieved by the Nigerian Navy in the safeguard of the Gulf of Guinea. Nigeria has continued to record successes in the anti-piracy war as activities of pirates in the Gulf of Guinea have reached an all-time low in more than a decade. The Nigerian Navy has continuously acquired new assets and has further improved its capabilities to maintain a large fleet and to operate far beyond its territorial waters,” -Vice Admiral Gambo.
The Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr.Bashir Jamoh, also joined the league of those celebrating the success of Nigeria in this direction. Speaking at the 2nd Nigerian Admiralty Law Colloquium, Dr.Jamoh said: “I am also happy to announce that on the 5th of March 2022, Nigeria exited the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) piracy record list, leaving Sao Tome and Principe and Benin Republic leading the most dangerous waters to trade in the world. On maritime security, in 2019 The Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act came into law. This Act provides the legal teeth for the war against piracy in the Nigerian maritime environment. The further zeal to keep the nation’s maritime space secured, promote socio-economic development and leaving no stone unturned, led to the launch of the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure”.
Applauding the Federal Government’s commitment and decisive initiative on the Deep Blue Project to tackle the menace of maritime insecurity in the waterways, the game changer Naval General Gambo said, “the state of the art Maritime Domain Awareness facilities comprising; the Falcon Eye and the Regional Maritime Awareness Capability Centres allow the Nigerian Navy to monitor its territorial waters and beyond.”
Findings have long established that corruption is the major cause of piracy, coupled with the weak legal and jurisdictional systems, alongside the non patriotic attitude of some law enforcement personnel.
Having identified the lapses, as peculiarly responsible for the problems in the Gulf of Guinea states, the Nigerian navy, under the watch of Vice Admiral Gambo, entered into collaboration with other stakeholders to establish the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, otherwise called, the Deep Blue Project.
The aim is for total spectrum maritime security and better domain awareness, using some of the latest technology to secure the waters and give Nigerians more leverage to harness the enormous resources of the maritime environment and aid the drive towards economic diversification.
It is interesting to note that the initiative has commenced yielding result, as the navy had announced that a Nigerian court had on Friday, jailed 10 pirates for 12 years each, over the hijacking of a merchant vessel last year. This is the second such trial under the new anti-piracy law put in place by the Chief of Naval Staff.
This undoubted feat or achievement, certainly requires great courage, skill and strength, all of which seem abound in General Gambo, the game changer general of the Nigerian navy.
Gambo: The gamechanger general of the Nigerian Navy