The Federal Government Of Nigeria has promised to make budgetary provisions for the Nigerian Navy before the end of the present administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
This is according to the Minister of State for Defence, Colonel Augustine Akobundu (rtd), who was on a familiarization tour to the various services of the armed forces.
The Minister said that it was critical to continue to provide for the Navy, citing the strategic role played by the Navy in the protection of the country’s major source of income.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Usman Jubrin, while asking for more funding, had earlier enumerated the various achievements of the Navy with the limited resources at its disposal.
According to the Naval boss, the Nigerian Navy is faced with the major challenge of funding, which impedes on the development of the different components of the service.
The Minister urged the Navy to ensure that they continue to carry out their statutory responsibilities within the available resources at their disposal while efforts are made to ensure they are better funded.
The Minister of State for Defence, Col. Augustine Akobundu, has tasked the Nigerian Armed Forces to maintain its loyalty to constitutional authority, even as the current government begins to wind down.
The Minister during his maiden visit to the Defence headquarters also commended the military for its resourcefulness in tackling the insecurity in the country.
He urged the leadership of the armed forces to accord the incoming administration the same loyalty and support accorded previous administrations and the current administration.
On his part the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, maintained the loyalty of the armed forces rests with the constitution alone.
Nigeria’s former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, has urged Nigerians to be patient with the Federal Government, as “patience is needed to see the ceasefire deal through”.
According to him, the attacks after the ceasefire deal may have been as a result of poor communications amongst the insurgent group.
He is optimistic that the situation will get better in the coming days.
On the controversy surrounding the seizure of moneys said to be for the purchase of arms and ammunition for the Nigerian military by South African authorities, he insisted that “South Africa must apologise to Nigeria”.
He said that South Africa failed Nigeria when Nigeria needed it’s help most.
The former minister said that Nigeria was in dire need of restocking its armoury in its fight against the insurgents. “Rather than aid Nigeria, they choose to embarrass the country”.
Two days after the ceasefire deal between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Boko Haram terrorist group, towns in Borno State were attacked, a development that is considered as a breach to the deal.
The Nigerian Air Force has buried its pilot who died in a crash during a training mission in Bama, Borno State.
At the burial ceremony, the Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, said that the ultimate sacrifice paid by Flight Lieutenant Akweke Nwakile should not just serve as a call to duty to members of the Armed Forces but to all Nigerians.
The Minister praised the loyalty and dedication of the officer and gave assurances that Nigeria would not forget him.
He also urged officers and men of the Nigerian Armed Forces to see the death of the officer and indeed other fallen heroes of the Nigerian military as a call to do more to ensure the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
The Minister promised that the Government would continue to work to put an end to insecurity in the country.
Military officers and their relations were at the military cemetery in Abuja for the burial, and shortly after the corpse of the officer was brought by the pall bearers, a Christian requiem service and prayers were offered for the repose of the soul of the deceased. Then he was laid to rest.
In line with military tradition, the national flag was presented to his next –of-kin, while wreaths were laid in his honour. This was followed by the firing of the volley as a mark of honour for his gallantry.
Akweke Nwakile lost his life during a training mission in Bama, Borno State. The late Air Force Officer was a member of the Joint Task Force Operation Zaman Lafiya in the north-eastern part of Nigeria.
The Minister of State for Defence, Mr Musiliu Obanikoro, says the heavy presence of the military in Osun State deployed for the governorship election is necessary to avoid chaos even as he debunks the claim of his presence in Osun.
While addressing journalists in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital on Saturday, Mr Obanikoro reiterated that President Goodluck Jonathan remained committed to ensuring that all elections in Nigeria were free, fair and rancour free.
He said that the essence of having the security personnel was to ensure that the outcome of the Osun governorship election equalled previous elections in Edo and Ekiti States and to guard against sharp practices.
The Minister of State for Defence denied being a part of the ongoing election in Osun even as he accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) of invading Oshogbo, the Osun State capital, with thugs to intimidate members of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Mr Obanikoro stressed that the security agents would do their best to ensure no one was denied the right to vote, insisting that every vote must count.
The Minister also appealed to residents of Osun to remain calm and vigilant during and after elections.
The APC, the party of the incumbent governor, Rauf Aregbesola, who is also seeking a second term in office, had gone to court to contest the deployment of the huge security personnel in the state ahead of the election, insisting that their presence would create an artificial and apprehensive situation that would not favour the electorates.
But President Jonathan, at a rally of the PDP held to support the candidate of the party vying for the position of the governor, said that the security personnel were deployed to guard against possible snatching of ballot boxes.
Voting has been concluded in the Saturday’s election and counting has started.
Click here to view more photos from the different voting centres in Osun.
The wife of Ambassador Joe Keshi, Mrs. Dayo Keshi recently celebrated her 60th birthday and retirement from the Federal Civil Service after serving for 31 years.
Some of the invited guests were big wigs in the Civil Service, ministers, diplomats including Minister of Culture, Edem Duke, Minister of State For Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, former Minister of Power, Berth Nnaji, former Presidential aspirant, Pat Utomi, former Inspector General of Police, Mike Okiro.
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Lai Mohammed, on Thursday disclosed plans of the All Progressives Congress, which lost in the just concluded Ekiti governorship elections, to head to Court for various infractions against its members, during the elections.
“We are going to challenge all these infractions in court so that it would be clear we are not making anything up,” he said.
Appearing as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Mr Mohammed listed various offences for which the party was going to seek redress for in Court, including the detainment of Governor Chibuike Amaechi and other APC governors on the day of Fayemi’s last rally.
He also mentioned the arrest of some APC leaders the night before the election, as one of the issues for which they seek redress, noting that they had no problems with the outcome of the election, but with the process.
“Two weeks before the election, a peaceful rally by the APC was forcibly dispersed which led to the death of an individual,” he said, adding that there was no investigation into the matter.
He also mentioned that “a vehicle was intercepted containing 200 boxes of electoral material which INEC discredited as waste material” and there was yet to be an explanation for a reported aircraft carrying suspicious material, which landed in Ekiti.
Mohammed explained that “what happens before, during elections determines if the nation’s democracy is being deepened.”
However, the APC spokesman said that the Party had no intention to contest the result of the election and it was standing by Fayemi’s decision, unless there was compelling evidence to necessitate such a move.
“We have gone beyond the issue of who lost or who won the election”, he said, but insisted that the over-militarisation of the process created fear in the electorate which may have caused many APC loyalists to stay clear of the election.
“We have absolutely no problem or issue with law enforcement agencies in keeping peace” he said, but noted that it was a “selective keeping of peace” which was against the opposition. He claimed that members of the APC, as well as some accredited journalists had been “deported” and “forcefully removed” on the day of the election.
He further insisted that certain incidents, if not corrected, would not give the desired type of democracy.
On the emergence of Ayo Fayose as governor-elect, Mohammed said that the concession of defeat by Fayemi and the APC was evidence of the opposition’s democratic nature.
“By this we have shown the world that we are true democrats and that election is not a do or die affair”, he said, maintaining that the Party had respected the wish of the people.
On his part, Chairman of the Lagos Chapter of the PDP, Tunji Shelle, described allegations of the APC spokesman as “strange”.
According to him, security personnel were professional in their conduct.
Shelle, a second guest on the programme, while speaking about the election, commended the outgoing governor, Kayode Fayemi, for sportsmanship but noted that the act was not first of its kind.
“Our own candidate in Lagos during the last election congratulated Fashola in the same vein as Fayemi did.”
He noted that Fayemi had prepared well but somebody else prepared better, adding that the last time governance was taken away from PDP, it was through “judicial rascality”, since Ekiti was a PDP state.
On reports of the ejection of certain people allegedly lodged in hotels to perpetuate electoral crime, Shelle said that the security personnel did a good job of evading any unwanted occurrence. They were there to disrupt the electoral process, he insisted.
He, however, defended the presence of the Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro and Minister of Police Affairs, Jelil Adesiyan in Ekiti despite the fact that security operatives did not permit APC governors.
According to him, they had been lodged in Akure, and had gone into Ado-Ekiti briefly, on private matters, as PDP members and were not on a mission to influence the election.
Increased budgetary allocation to the Nigerian Navy and other maritime security agencies can ensure effective combat of crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism in the country’s waterways.
The Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, stated this at an interactive session held in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
Stakeholders gathered for a 2-day conference organized by the Nigerian Navy, as part of activities marking its 58th anniversary, hopeful that remedies to the heightened activities of pirates, who are bent on milking the nation dry through pipeline vandalism, oil theft and other related offenses, are found.
Mr Obanikoro noted that the country’s development was closely linked to a safe waterway.
“In the long term, if Nigeria is to meet the target of our administration and our transformation agenda, which is to be among the top 20 economies, then the role of security, especially in the maritime domain becomes more and more imperative”, he said.
In 2013, losses from crude oil theft were estimated at an average of 55,210 barrels daily, which translates to over 1.6million barrels monthly.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Usman Jibrin, said that the decision to hold a conference as part of the 2014 Navy Week celebration was part of the overall strategy to continuously examine and reappraise the procedures within the Navy, in order to ensure that it remains focused.
The theme of the conference was derived from that mission; which is ‘Combating Crude Oil theft In Nigeria’s Maritime Domain’, an element for improved national and individual earnings.
The host governor, Liyel Imoke, also advocated the strengthening of existing laws against crude oil theft, as he emphasized the need for the Nigerian Navy to have the capacity to prosecute those it arrests.
It was also resolved that if all those found culpable of crude oil theft and related offences are made to forfeit personal assets and all bank accounts traceable to them, it would deter others from taking to such crimes.
Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, has slammed the Lagos State Government for not being sincere to the people in its low cost housing projects.
While discussing issues of insecurity in the country on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, Mr. Obanikoro, berated the Lagos State Government for its Ilubirin Housing Project, condemning the location of the estate, as well as the cost at which citizens would acquire the accommodation.
Obanikoro had been accused of using the military to obstruct the state project in Lagos State and he provided explanation that he was only on site seeing of some of the projects that affect his people as a Lagosian.
He explained that he never spoke a word to the workers at the site, let alone stop them from working. He claimed that he went to see the project, took pictures and left quietly, despite his reservations on the quality of work being done.
He wondered why the presence of his aides who followed him to the project site should be deliberately referred to by the State Governor as obstruction of work, when as a Minister he had no such mandate or powers.
He stated that the construction workers, whom he was alleged to have stopped from working, were actually at work while Governor Fashola was accusing him in the media.
On his reservation about the said project, Obanikoro said: “He (Governor Fashola) said ‘low cost’, it is not low cost. You cannot build a low cost housing estate on water, it’s not done anywhere in the world.
“How can a Governor in good conscience tell me that a 16million Naira 2bedroom flat is low cost?” he asked, adding that as a Minister whose annual salary was 2million Naira, he could not even have afforded that.
“When Alhaji Jakande was Governor, I bought a form for 1 Naira 50kobo, I was a clerk working in Union Bank, he actually built for the poor. I bought a form, I bought a flat, and you paid 1,500 Naira to be a house owner at that time.”
Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, who is a member of the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, also provided explanation to several other allegations that borders on his activities as a politician, especially as regards those made by Nigeria’s main opposition party, the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The issue of the Minister’s salary was also revisited as he was asked to clarify with details, his actual earning. Obanikoro insisted, “My annual salary is 2million Naira, everything put together plus my allowances is 4million Naira.”
Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, has explained that communication has not been the best in the areas under the emergency rule in Nigeria and this was the reason the military made the mistake of announcing that it had rescued 121 of the abducted girls at the Government School in Borno.
Speaking on the Monday edition of Sunrise Daily on Channels Television, he said that processing information has been made more difficult for the military and things must have been muddled up along the line, adding that the Army should be commended for admitting their error and apologizing, rather than condemned.
He added that security was not about the security agencies but about the people. He explained that if the security agencies do not get the quality of support that they require from the people and the society at large, there would be nothing they can do.
He also noted that based on his experience as a former envoy to Ghana, it was not unreasonable to suggest that the kind of relationship and collaboration that should exist between neighbouring countries in Africa do not exist.
He stated that the Boko Haram sect having switched their terror activities to soft targets like schools and motor parks is a situation which reflects that there had been progress in the fight against the terrorists and also meant that better care should have been given to such soft targets.
He said that the reason why the school was opened while all schools in Borno State were supposed to be closed also demanded explanation from the State Government, as he believed that the girl could have been relocated to a safer region to write their exams.
The Minister also said that some of the comments coming from the State Government have also not helped the situation of insecurity. “We can play politics but don’t play politics with the lives of the people”, he said.
He asked for more cooperation from the State Governments in the North, particularly demanding that communication from both authorities should be in tandem with the Federal Government’s efforts and should project cooperation between both tiers of Government.
He also said that the Adamawa State Governor, Murtala Nyako’s comparison of military activities in the North to the actions of German dictator, Adolf Hitler, was uncalled for. He maintained that this should not be coming from a former Chief of Naval Staff, let alone an elected governor and representative of the people.
Providing explanation for the ease with which the sect, known for driving in large convoys of vehicles, carry out their operations despite the State of Emergency and consequent curfew in the states, Obanikoro said that there could not have been ease of passage for these terrorists if there were no local collaborators.
He also explained that the damage done to the telecommunication infrastructure in the region has also limited the help that the military could get to that which the local communities could give, if they were willing to join hands with the military to win the battle.
He, however, also admitted that the successes recorded by the military so far could not have been without the support of the local JTF and some natives, but also stated that Nigerians should not expect that all details of the progresses made would be made public.
On allegations that arms and ammunition were being smuggled into Nigeria from Turkey, Obanikoro said that he had asked the same questions from the service chiefs and they said emphatically that this was untrue and he has all reasons to believe them. “Let us not turn this into a beer parlour talk”, he said.
The former Senator admitted that the Boko Haram sect cannot be separated from all the globally known terrorist groups operating in different parts of the world, but insisted that intergovernmental collaboration between West African countries remained the most important factor if Nigeria would win the war on terror as this was not just a Nigerian problem.
On the quality of motivation given to Nigeria’s military personnel who are at the fore front of fighting the insurgents, there had been suspicion of low morale within the men, as Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima has also said that the terrorists were more motivated than the soldiers.
Obanikoro said that this has been his concern as well and he had asked severally from the top military hierarchy, and also spoken with the soldiers at the field who shared their experiences with him and they were in tandem with what the Army Chief told him that the soldiers were well taken care of.
He said that the allegation that the Nigerian Army’s weaponry was as old as having been purchased since the 1980s was mere politics.
Revealing that Nigeria had purchased arms and ammunition annually for many years, he insisted that the Nigerian Army had what it takes to end the war on terror.
Japan has promised to train 2000 military personnel drawn from the Sahel region.
Speaking at the commissioning of hostels built by the Japanese government for the National Defence College, the Nigerian Ambassador to Japan, Ryuichi Shoji said that Japan is pledging the sum of $120million to resolve crisis in the region.
The Sahel region which comprises of Nigeria, Niger republic, Chad, Mali and Sudan have recent months battling terrorist attacks by Islamic insurgents.
Mr Shoji added that another $1billion will be committed to resolving the root causes of the instability and terrorism in the region.
The Minister of state for Defence, Olusola Obada, expressed the federal government’s readiness to partner with the Japanese government in the area technology to fight insurgency in the northern part of the country.
The Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ola Ibrahim, has reassured Nigerians and foreign investors that the nation’s insecurity challenge is under control.
Admiral Ibrahim gave the assurance at the decoration of 55 newly promoted senior military officers in Abuja.
He announced that the military would be launching new strategies that would need the cooperation of other security agencies in the country.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of state for Defence, Mrs Olusola Obada promised that the government will provide the necessary equipment to enable the newly promoted officers operate more effectively and therefore the nation expects optimal results.
Military officers from the Nigerian Army, Air force and Navy accompanied by their wives and relations express delight as they were decorated by government officials
Admiral Ibrahim emphasized that the promotion and recognition of the officers is not only for their self-less service to the nation but an encouragement to ensure better modes of operation this year.
21 Brigadier Generals were decorated with their badges of a two-star General.
14 Air-Commodores were also decorated as Air-Vice Marshals and 19 Commodores now ranked as Rear Admirals.
Representing the president, the Minister of State for Defence, congratulated the officers and told them to regard their new status as an added responsibility that must not fail.