The Central Naval Command, Nigerian Navy, with headquarters in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, says it has significantly reduced oil theft, piracy, vandalism and other illegalities in the Niger Delta through its three-pronged approach.
The Flag Officer Commanding, CNC, Rear Admiral Mohammed Garba, said the development was made possible through appeasement, constructive engagement and kinetic approaches.
Garba said this on Friday during the official inauguration of a multi-purpose gymnasium and recreational centre built for the officers and men of Forward Operating Base, Formoso, Egweama in Brass Local Government Area of the state.
The FOC stated, “When I assumed leadership of the command on May 9, 2016, some people asked me what actually was my mission in CNC. I told them my mission in the command was to work towards changing the perception of the Niger Delta communities against the Nigerian Navy.
”I said emphatically that my approaches would be appeasement policy, constructive engagement, and the usual one that people don’t like to hear, the kinetic approach.
“Though we have never applied much of the kinetic approach, which is the use of force in military parlance, as such. However, our constructive engagement and the appeasement policy have been very effective. They entail going round communities, offering free medical drugs and treatments as well as interfacing with the people on the need to shun illegalities.
”These approaches have helped in changing the perception of the Niger Delta people against the Navy and the government.”
He said that instead of applying force, the command had been able to ”bend the will of the people rather than breaking their will”, a strategy, he confessed, had worked wonders in the region.
Addressing officers and men of FOB Formoso, Garba stressed the importance of physical fitness, saying, “For a man to be physically fit and healthy, he must be able to maintain some level of physical activities.
“This gymnasium actually was equipped for that purpose to make sure that personnel at the end of days’ job are here to exercise themselves so that they can maintain their physical fitness, health and mental ability in times of discharging their duties.”
He said the inauguration of the gymnasium marked an important milestone in the annals of history of the Nigerian Navy, especially the Chief of Naval Staff strategic directives.
He said the construction of the gym was part of the key priorities of the CNS of motivating personnel so that they could put in their best in the performance of their jobs.
He commended the effort of the Commanding Officer on his courage in putting resources together to give the personnel something that would occupy them after their hard days’ job.
In his remarks, the Commanding Officer, FOB Formoso, Captain Mayowa Olukoya, commended FOC for coming to inaugurate the facility.
Olukoya said, ”It is a milestone for the base because, in the time past, we did not have any means of keeping fit for the personnel. Sadly a few instances of ill health among personnel could be linked to lack of exercise and physical fitness in the past.”