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Militants in trouble, as Navy begins test of 13 warships

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– The navy is set to bring total peace and order within the Niger Delta

– To bring hostilities in the region to an end, the navy has started testing 13 warships

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– Programmes are being put in place to ensure that militants can lay down their arms peacefully

The Nigerian Navy has commenced an exercise to appraise the combat-readiness of its special forces and platforms, in preparation for the task ahead.

Officers of the Nigerian Army Amphibious Brigade, Nigerian Air Force Maritime Patrol Aircraft, police and operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) among others are also participating in the event codenamed, ‘Exercise Eagle Eye’.

Chief of Policy and Plans (CPPLAN), Rear Admiral Jacob Ayeni, told a press conference yesterday in Abuja that the exercise, which ends on December 5 in the Niger Delta region, would provide an ample opportunity for the navy to showcase its capacity to Nigerians as well as the larger Gulf of Guinea, adding that “the activities of miscreants in the region have created a general sense of insecurity in the domain”.

He boasted that the force would prove doubting minds wrong that it had the capability to tackle numerous insecurity and criminal issues on the nation’s waterways.

According to Ayeni, the exercise is being phased in two to check prevailing security threats and second, to consolidate on achievements made so far.

“A total of 13 vessels, 80 in-shore patrol craft, two helicopters and two private maritime security vessels will participate in the exercise,” he added.

Meanwhile, 500 beneficiaries of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) yesterday began training in advanced agriculture at the National Bio-Resources Centre in Odi, Bayelsa State. They are to be tutored on application of verified scientific technologies to boost yield and animal farming.

The former militants are also to be exposed to modern methods in mushroom cultivation, fishery, snail, grasscutter, crop farming as well as poultry technology.

The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and PAP Coordinator, Brig.-Gen. Paul Boroh (rtd), who spoke at the official launch, described investment in agriculture as key to the nation’s economic growth.

“Today’s economic realities remind us of what we have taken for granted and how with dedication and near total focus, we can turn the tide using agriculture as the harbinger of economic greatness. It is not enough to consistently clamour for diversification of the economy, we must work the talk by raising a generation of the young ones who envisages agriculture as a viable business platform and are willing to push the frontiers,’’ he remarked.

The centre’s Director-General, Prof. Lucy Ogbadu, commended the initiators for the move.

In a similar vein, the Federal Government is not sure of when the militancy in the Niger Delta will come to an end, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, has said.

He also stated that Nigeria would be comfortable with the price of crude oil at mid-$50 per barrel considering the fluctuations in the pricing of the commodity in the international market.

Kachikwu disclosed this during an interview on Bloomberg TV ahead of the meeting of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna, Austria, which was monitored by our correspondent on Wednesday morning in Abuja.

The minister stated that the Federal Government had made considerable progress in addressing the militancy in the region, but noted that he could not tell when the activities of militants in the Niger Delta would end.

Kachikwu said the issue in the region could be a potential challenge to the success of the government’s recently inaugurated ‘7-Big Wins’ policy direction for the oil and gas sector.

He noted that other potential challenges were fairly within the control of the government but not the Niger Delta matter.

He said, “I think the Niger Delta issue is a major problem because you simply can’t get a final handle on it until it is resolved and you will never know when it is resolved.”

On the country’s crude oil production, the minister said, “We have made a lot of progress on that, productions are up – 1.9 million barrel, 1.95mb from the lows of 1.4mb. Militancy attacks are less, an average of one every month as opposed to five to six every week when it first started early in the year.”

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