By VINCENT UJUMADU
AWKA — THE construction of a new naval base expected to gulp N1.2 billion has begun at the riverside community of Odekpe in Ogbaru local government area of Anambra State. The site is about seven kilometers from the Onitsha Port commissioned last year by President Goodluck Jonathan.
At the ground–breaking ceremony of the project, Governor Peter Obi presented a cheque for N200 million to the Nigerian Navy to expedite work on the site.
Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Joseph Ezeoba, who performed the ceremony with Governor Obi, said the concept of establishing the base in 2010 was borne out of the necessity to ensure protection of lives and property and to secure the nation’s inland waterways around the commercial city of Onitsha.
He said: “When the President commissioned the Onitsha Port in August 2012, we realized that we needed a more comprehensive security apparatus to take care of the expectant security challenges.
“With the presence of the Onitsha Port, it is obvious that the scope of economic activities of Anambra State would expand with the prospect of greater employment opportunities and improved economic fortunes for the state. These expectations could be thwarted if the socio-economic environment of the area is not properly secured.”
According to him, naval operations in the area have begun in full force, adding that some criminal elements whose activities undermine peace and security were recently arrested, while some vessels used in carrying out illegal activities along the waterways were impounded.
The Chief of Naval Staff, who observed what he described as the outstanding performance of Governor Obi in advancing the growth and development of the state and country, commended him for appreciating the fundamental role of the Navy in protecting the waterways and supporting a permanent structure that would enable Naval personnel carry out their responsibilities effectively.