Monday, May 29, 2017 10:33 pm
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Governor Nyesom Wike has the Navy five days ultimatum to put the eight gunboats recently donated to it by the State or return them. “If within five days we do not see the gunboats patrolling our territorial Waters the Navy Commander should please return the gunboats to us”, Governor Wike who explained that the understanding with the Navy is that due to high risk on waterways and sea pirates along the Bonny-Opobo waterways, Bille axis and others, the boats will be used to patrol those areas.
It will be recalled be that at the inauguration of the gunboats in Port Harcourt, on April 29 the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Ibok Ete-Ibas said the eight gunboats would complement another batch of 12 gunboats delivered earlier by the Rivers government, all geared at securing the state maritime environment.
Governor Nyesom Wike has even promised to donate 13 more boats to the Navy.
Vice Adm. Ibok Ete-Ibas had said the gunboats would boost Navy’s patrol capabilities and speed up the response of troops to crime scenes and thereby discourage criminality on the waterways.
“The Navy appreciates the expectation attendant to delivery of these gunboats and we assure that the Navy will be prompt in committing the assets to operation.
“The gunboats would be deployed to impose order and security along the waterways in Rivers state with focus to boost economic activities.
“This deployment would facilitate free passage for the people to conduct their legitimate businesses without hindrance by criminal elements.
“To this end, the gunboats have beefed up the Nigerian Navy boat fleet to over 100 assorted boats which have enhanced the security of the waterways and the coastal.
Governor Wike said that his administration was committed to securing lives and property in the state.
He pointed out that his government’s partnership with the Navy and other security agencies had yielded positive result as the crime had reduced in the state.
“However, these gunboats are for security of lives and property of Rivers state alone as it should not be taken to neighbouring states on any account.
“Any state government that wants to secure her waterways should purchase its own gunboats because securing live and properties of Rivers people is paramount to the state government,” he said.
Wike said the state government would further acquire 13 Special Boats that would be distributed to the Nigerian Navy, Army and the Police.
The gunboats were fitted with 200 horsepower engine; 12.7mm machine guns, automatic grenade launchers and communication gadgets.
Governor Wike used the opportunity of the Town Hall meeting today during the State of State address to unveil his scorecard and field questions from a cross section of members of the public.
In answer to a question on health, the Governor announced that he approved the reabsorption of retired Specialist Medical Doctors to help nurture the proposed Rivers State University Teaching Hospital at Braithwaite Specialist Hospital.
He also announced that 4 million US Dollars have been released for the upgrading of the the State Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital in Port Harcourt ahead of the take off of the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the Rivers State University in Port Harcourt.