The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice-Admiral Usman O. Jibrin, has advocated greater role for the security agency’s hydrographic department in line with contemporary global trend and increasing responsibilities.
Admiral Jibrin, who made the observation in a keynote address during the 2014 World Hydrography Day celebration held at the Wellington Hotel Effurun, near Warri, Delta State, at the weekend, appealed to the federal government to upgrade the hydrographic department of the Nigerian Navy to the National Hydrographic Commission.
The CNS said such upgrade would provide an expanded funding base for the hydrographic unit, whose importance he noted would be all-embracing, through direct funding.
Describing as apt the theme of this year’s celebration, “Hydrography: More than just nautical charts”, he said the upgrade and increased funding would effectively address the major problem that has militated against hydrographic development in Nigeria due to apparent lukewarm involvement of the government.
“The enormous financial outlay of hydrographic operations, due to huge costs of survey required in Nigeria’s maritime domains could only be guaranteed under an expanded status for the department,” the CNS stressed.
“As a commission, it will assume a status for direct funding under a separate budget,” he said, adding that “the comprehensive celebration would generate the needed publicity for hydrographic contributions at the national level and global level.”
The CNS said the essence of the celebration was to give adequate publicity to the global contribution of hydrography to the economic activities associated with oceans, seas and coastal zones.
Jibrin said Nigeria which became a member of the International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO) in 1981, was also a member of the East Atlantic Hydrographic Commission created by IHO to promote hydrographic cooperation at the regional level.
The CNS also revealed that the Navy’s hydrographic office was proposing to host the East Atlantic Commission between 2014 and 2016 to justify its active role in hydrology commission in the region.
Moreover, he disclosed that the security agency was “in the process of developing Nigeria’s hydrographic capability in line with the IHO’s phase three hydrographic capability strategy.”
He nonetheless sued for more collaboration from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) as well as other relevant stakeholders in the interest of hydrographic development in the country.
The naval bosswas represented at the event by Rear-Admiral Sidi Usman, Head of Logistics Command Oghara, Delta State, who also officially declared the 2014 World Hydrography Day open.
Fielding questions from newsmen at the event, Usman said the the significance of hydrography could not be emphasised as it generally has to do with safe and effective use of the seas and oceans, rivers, coastline and lakes which are important to maritime activities.
He explained that hydrographic survey and activities remained a significant aspect of naval security intelligence because hydrography provides valuable information on the depth and characteristics of the seafloor and shoreline, identifying possible hazards as well as behaviour of tides and waves.
He said the celebration of the World Hydrography Day in Nigeria amounted to ‘a wake up call’ especially to the Navy because of the significance of hydrography to the statutory duties of the Nigerian Navy.
He stressed that the authorities of the Nigerian Navy were working round the clock to checkmate illegal activities that undermine the security of the country’s waterways, the oil and gas industry as well as maritime and general economic activities in the country.
Usman said the navy as a strategic agency that ensures the security of lives and property and promotes orderliness in social, industrial, economic as well as ecological activities, was always conscious of national security.
“The navy has continued to frustrate the activities of economic saboteurs that vandalise oil and gas installations even as it is checking the influx of illegal arms and ammunition especially through the waterways,” he noted.
Nevertheless, the Hydrographer of the Nigerian Navy, Rear-Admiral Abdullahi Inusa, observed that hydrography remained key to efficient maritime activities including transportation and submarine activities for both military and industrial purposes.
“Supporting marine defence and security by allowing freedom of manoeuvre for search-and-rescue and naval operations,” hydrography is invaluable to maritime and industrial enterprises, he pointed out.
According to Inusa, “Hydrography provides primary data essential for coastal zone management and development. It is a direct contributor to the identification and discovery of mineral resources at sea as well as critical requirement for the selection of routes for submarine pipelines and cables.”
The World Hydrography Day is celebrated annually under the auspices of the IHO and this year’s celebration coincides with the 93rd anniversary of the IHO.