Rear Adm. Awwal Gambo, new Chief of Naval Staff

By Abba Dukawa and Ahmad Danyaro

Change presents humanity with a confounding paradox. Whereas change is constant and inevitable, it forebodes a vague sense of uneasiness. Fear of the unknown taunts the nerves of even the valorous of men. Men of destiny however prepare for change, meeting it at the doorstep with secure pace. The Nigerian Navy got a breath of fresh air on January 26, 2020 with the appointment of Rear Admiral AZ Gambo to succeed Ibok Ekwe Ibas as the highest ranking Naval officer in Nigeria .The Nigerian Navy is a branch of Nigerian armed forces. It is among the largest navies on the African continent ,consisting of several thousand personnel, including those of the Coast Guard .

One of the challenges before Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) is safeguarding Nigeria’s territorial waters. Gulf of Guinea is another security challenge which has become dangerous and threatens the country’s utilization of its full economic potentials. This vast maritime space has utmost economic significance to the adjoining countries and it a vast area of coastline with 20 sovereign coastal states and islands and a number of landlocked states.

According to a report by the International Maritime Bureau of the International Chamber of Commerce, a total of 121 acts of maritime piracy were recorded in the Gulf of Guinea, incidents in 2018. In 2019 incidents rose to 195 and last year, kheidnappings by pirates in the GoG hit a record in 2020, with well-armed and violent gangs defying Regional Navies. United Nations reported that Nigeria lost about $2.8 billion to piracy as a result of crude oil and maritime crimes.

This is a worrying trend that can only be resolved through increased information exchange and coordination between vessels, reporting and response agencies in the Gulf of Guinea Region. Latest statistics shows this is one of the problems CNS will ensure he tackles due to the increased capabilities of pirates in the Gulf of Guinea with more and more attacks taking place further from the coast. This requires prompt action with urgent need to address this crime, which continues to have a direct impact on the nation economics, and security of innocent seafarers.

Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo’s appointment came at a period when the country is facing serious security challenges and he has as expected from Nigerians hit the ground running by tackling the worsening insecurity across Nigeria’s territorial waters which has been making life difficult for Nigerians.

Without doubt, he hit the ground running by unveiling his vision and mission envisioned the type of the Navy to head during his maiden meeting with principal staff officers, flag officers commanding and commanders of autonomous units of the Nigerian Navy directed all operations commanders to sustain aggressive clearance operations to make suspected militants, pirate camps Non-Conducive for any nefarious activities to thrive and rejected the resurging incidents of piracy and sea robbery within Nigerian waters.

Henceforth his stewardship will also focus on human capacity development through Result-Oriented training for enhanced professionalism and as well as strengthening logistics support and maintenance capabilities to sustain equipment serviceability and platform availability.

CNS intends to actualize his Vision and Mission in line with Mr President’s mandate within the first 90 days in office. While doing that, the CNS called for complete loyalty from all subordinate commanders and equally promised to take issues of personnel welfare seriously.

While his statements set to guide his stewardship of the Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral Awwal Zubaru reiterated his readiness to promote and sustain Nigerian Navy’s core values of Integrity, Professionalism and Teamwork and would ensure personnel welfare is accorded high priority towards enhanced Patriotism, Integrity, Productivity, Innovation, Commitment And Dedication.

He also pledged to guarantee Nigerians, personnel and officers of the Nigerian Navy and even those around riverine and coastal areas to ensure nation waters remains safe from all forms of maritime criminalities and has zero-tolerance for indiscipline, criminal activities and will formulate a policies to sanction identified Nigerian Navy personnel that collude with economic saboteurs and other criminals.

Another important areas the new Naval Chief needs to pay attention is taming corruption and identifying the bad eggs of the naval service. The immediate past Chief of Naval Staff while handing over lamented that many officers of Nigerian navy still connived with illegal bunkers, sea robbers, oil thieves and other maritime criminals to undermine existence of the country. He said the negligence of the officers at their duty post is aggravating challenges in maritime sector.

The story of the 21st indigenous Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) and 9th since returns of democracy in the country Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo is that of triumph of the human fortune. His life is a proof that with strong will to succeed in life and divine nod to one’s actions, one can turn all obstacles to blessings. The effort of this gentleman makes him to attain greatness by building fruitful Navy career from the bottom up the top echelon of the Nigerians Navy.

The new CNS was quick to begin work by cleaning the Augean stable, this clearly shows great sense of responsibility, exceptional courage, sincerity of purpose and readiness to take the organization to higher unprecedented level. There is no doubt that his legacies shall remain eternal source of inspiration for many generations to come.

-Dukawa and Danyaro wrote in from Kano and can be reach onabbahydukawa@gmail.com