Where the critics went wrong – Blueprint Newspapers Limited
I watched with growing dismay opposition to the establishment of a naval “base” at Kano. The decision followed approval by the Navy Council to establish three such bases at Lekki, Oguta and Kano.
Kano’s seems to be the one causing stomach aches. It raised a lot of dust. Part of the hubbub comes, decidedly, from the expected neighborhoods. Pa Edwin Clark, the greatest Ijaw leader, for example, kicked. A consortium of critics, all uninformed (yes, uninformed), especially in the morning TV shows, have latched onto the “inappropriate” train that a naval base in Kano is a wasteful business and also a “trip.” ego ”.
But the one that piqued my interest the most came from an unexpected background – Dare Babarinsa, a veteran and brain journalist. A veteran who stood on guard, along with other patriots, against the military dictatorship. Babarinsa and his traveling companions, all icons of journalism, started Tell Magazine in 1991. The magazine received world accolades.
The seasoned journalist’s prose had a compelling flavor. Her prefaces to each cover were captivating and impeccable. Throughout the 1990s, his plays along with the inimitable Nosa Igiebor, Onome Osifo-Whiskey and others kept the military regimes of the time on their toes. Each time he wrote, he “ended” the juntas of the time with shrewd comments. His facts and figures were often unassailable.
The years have not cooled with his piquant comments against the “absurdities” of the theater of the absurd in Nigeria. His recent blows at the Kano Navy Project, however, do not match his generally well-documented trials. This time around he got it mixed up and dare I say, wrong.
Writing in the Guardian on September 9, 2021, his dismay was apparent. The revealing headline “Our Navy’s NNS Absurdity” leaves no doubt about its position on the issue.
He is not flippant. It is not frivolous. This deserves to be underlined. His treatise asked about the “absurdity” of locating a naval base in Kano. I will come back to this shortly.
His argument, in essence, is that “there is no rational argument that can support the need for a naval base in Kano. While fishermen crossed the two great rivers of Kano State; Hadejia and Jama’are, for centuries it is inconceivable that anyone would think of putting a fishing trawler or speedboat on one of these rivers. To accommodate a real passenger boat, each of the rivers would require expensive dredging. Even then, this may not justify the need for a naval presence. It would only mean that the Merchant Navy might have an interest.
He concludes: “The decision to establish a naval base in Kano is truly absurd. This is an indication that decisions at the highest level of the military are always taken with a reckless disregard for logic. Gambo’s gift to Kano is an absurd ego trip made at our expense. Pity. “
He is not alone. Some elements joined the campaign, especially in the media. The latest addition to the Anti-Base Campaign orchestra is Pa Edwin Clark. He wrote an open letter to the president and asked rhetorically “A naval base at Kano in the heart of the Sahel?”
He insinuated nepotism and parochialism. There were others. Everyone seems to think that locating a naval base “in the heart of the Sahel” is incongruous. They seem to think that a naval base must necessarily be located where the rivers are deep with powerful frigates mooring. Nothing could be further from the truth. The idea that because Kano is in the Sahel does not deserve a naval presence, is wrong. This is like saying that the current military campaign against insurgent elements in the northeast often carried out by Navy Special Forces (SBS) is inappropriate because there is no sea in this troubled area.
With the exception of my senior colleague, Babarinsa, whom I revere, all of the reviews were just passionate and unreasonable.
I don’t blame the enthusiasts. Humanly speaking, the less knowledge you have on a subject, the more passionate you tend to be. The image that comes to mind when referring to a naval base is that of a secure seaport used as an operations center by the Navy. But then a base could be for operations, training, logistics or administration. This is precisely the case with the Kano base. It is a College of Logistics. But no, the critics wouldn’t hear about it.
It is not entirely out of place to describe all naval institutions as bases. In naval jargon, where there is a strong presence of personnel with homes, schools and hospitals, it is technically a base.
It is in the public domain that there are 3 operational commands of the Navy: West with headquarters in Lagos, East with headquarters in Calabar and Central Naval with headquarters in Yenagoa.
However, there are two other commands, namely Naval Formation headquartered in Lagos and Logistics headquartered in Oghara. The Naval Training Command has vocational schools located in various regions of the country.
In the Lagos region alone, there is the Nigerian Navy Vessel (NNS) QUORRA, the Nigerian Navy Center for Education and Training Technology (NNCETT) and the Joint Safety Training Center maritime, among others.
There are many more located outside of Lagos. They include the Nigerian Navy Weapons Technology School in Kachia, Kaduna State, the Nigerian Navy College of Health Sciences in Offa, Kwara State, the College of Nigerian Navy Finance and Logistics, Owerrinta, Abia State, and the Nigerian Navy Hydrographic School, Port Harcourt.
It is relevant to clarify that these schools are also called naval bases. And in naval jargon like stone frigates since they are all establishments and naval units. Military formations are called bases or barracks all over the world.
The Kano naval “base” is for the new Nigerian Navy Logistics College, while the Nigerian Navy Finance College is said to be kept in Owerrinta. The base is also intended to house the primary and secondary schools of the Nigerian Navy.
Where naval personnel are on duty, it is common practice to have accommodation for staff and students, hospitals or medical centers, primary and secondary schools for wards of staff and people from the community of ‘Home. In addition, naval units such as naval police and intelligence are housed in such a base. It could also be used as a training ground for NN Special Forces in the immediate future.
The Navy has also proposed another base or school at Ile-Ife in Osun State. The command of the naval editorial staff was transferred to Lokoja, Kogi State, in January 2019, while the Nigerian Navy Music School has been located in Ota, Ogun State, since July 1991 Likewise, the Nigerian Naval Marshal and Regulatory School are located in Makurdi, Benue. State. The Lake Chad naval base is located in Baga, Borno State. The Navy is, indeed, nationally and expanding.
Will the charge by Clark and co. of the navy locating a valid base in the Sahel? Certainly not. There are countries around the world that have their navies on land because they are landlocked.
A landlocked navy is a naval force in a landlocked country. Such a country is incapable of developing a high seas navy. It can deploy its armed forces on large lakes or rivers.
Some landlocked countries that have navies include Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Central African Republic, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Laos, Paraguay, Rwanda, Uganda, among others.
In the United States, the Naval Construction Battalion Center is located in Mississippi; Naval Air Station Fallon is in Nevada, Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Atlantic Detachment Lamoure is in North Dakota while Navy Information Operations Command – Sugar Grove is in West Virginia. All of these states in the United States are landlocked.
In the UK, Her Majesty Ship (HMS) DRYAD and COLLINGWOOD are located on land, not on the coast. In Germany, the Logistikschule der Bundeswehr (the logistics school of the German armed forces) is located in Garlstedt, a landlocked town.
The insurgency in the northeast, banditry in the northwest and militancy in the Niger Delta region necessitated the involvement of the navy in internal security. Its special forces are currently portraying themselves in some north-central states of the Plateau, Nasarawa and Benue states. All this and many more justify a naval logistics school established in Kano.
Ali writes from 1st Avenue, Gwarinpa, Abuja
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