July 15, 2024

Akwa Ibom and Nigeria’s military formations

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Akwa Ibom and Nigeria’s military formations

The recent relocation of the Naval Training Command’s headquarters from Lagos to Rivers, which is already flooded with naval and other military formations, should be a wakeup call to political and military leaders, particularly at the federal level, from Akwa Ibom which is the least protected state militarily in the South-South zone despite being the highest oil-producing state in Nigeria

Inemesit Ina

The headquarters of the Naval Training Command (NAVTRAC) has moved from the port town of Apapa in Lagos State, where it domiciled for decades, to the industrial town of Eleme in Rivers State. The relocation came as a result of collaboration between the Navy high command and the Rivers State Government which made available its expansive model secondary school at Ebubu-Eleme in Eleme Local Government Area (LGA). Eleme is an economic hub which already hosts many heavy industries including the two Port Harcourt refineries, a petrochemical plant and two fertilizer plants.

Undoubtedly, Rivers State is presently the second home of the Nigerian Navy after Lagos, what with the preponderance of naval formations in her capital city, Port Harcourt, which has a dysfunctional port, and Onne, which now boasts of the busiest and, markedly, the only fully functional port in Nigeria outside the three Lagos ports. Besides, there is a heavy presence of the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Air Force in Rivers which, in adding up with the Navy, tend to portray the state as garrisoned, if not flooded by the military. It is, therefore, easy to see NAVTRAC’s relocation to the state as one too many.

In sharp contrast, Akwa Ibom ranks far below Rivers and the four other states in the South-South zone of Nigeria in terms of military formations. Given the insecurity plaguing her coastal communities, especially Oro Nation, Akwa Ibom, which is the highest oil-producing state in the country and the second most populous in the zone after Rivers, needs as many formations as possible, perhaps more than the other five states that are already well fortified.

But in a way there may be something good about the relocation for Akwa Ibom. It may serve as a wakeup call for political and military leaders from the state, particularly the federal ones.

Governor Umo Eno had long gone into partnership with the Navy, assisting its secondary school in the state, donating 14 gunboats for maritime operations and contracting the force to construct a ferry for the State Government at its shipyard in Port Harcourt.

However, to attract more presence of the Navy and the rest of the military to the state, well-placed Akwa Ibom’s leaders in Abuja need to synergise with the governor.

They should take a cue from Senator George Sekibo, the immediate past representative of Rivers East Senatorial District, who, as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Navy, collaborated with his then State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, to kick-start NAVTRAC’s relocation process, early last year.

Why NAVTRAC moved?

The relocation was announced by the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ikechukwu Ogalla, on April 25, 2024, when he led a delegation of top naval officers on a courtesy visit to Rivers State Governor Siminalayi Fubara at Government House, Port Harcourt.

According to a report by The Punch, Ogalla stated, “The purpose of my coming here today is three-fold. The first is to inform His Excellency that on Saturday, we are graduating a set of former civilians who have been trained at our Basic Training School, Onne, and are graduating to join the ranks of the Nigerian Navy as ratings in order to beef up our strength.

“The second reason is to first appreciate the Governor and the entire Rivers State Government for the schools they donated to us: the Ambassador Nne Krukrubo Model Secondary School at Eleme in Eleme Local Government Area and the Model Secondary School, Egbelu, in Oyigbo Local Government Area.

“We also want to use this opportunity to inform His Excellency that following that donation and based on our strategic plan of moving our facilities to areas where we have enough space to be able to carry out our duties, we have renovated the school at Eleme.

“We are happy to report, today, that the erstwhile location of headquarters of Naval Training Command, Lagos, is moving to that particular school location in Eleme, tomorrow.”

The CNS described the Nigerian Navy and Rivers State as conjoined twins who cannot do without each other.

As reported by Thisday, about a month after Ogalla’s announcement, the new headquarters was inaugurated by Fubara who announced the donation of N350million to the Navy to support the continuing infrastructure development and operationalisation of NAVTRAC in the state.

The Governor’s donation was probably in response to Ogalla’s appeal at the occasion for more assistance from the Rivers State Government towards the upgrade of more infrastructure in the headquarters’ complex and for the renovation of the second secondary school for the relocation of the Nigerian Naval College (NNC) to Egbelu.

With the movement to Ebubu-Eleme, NAVTRAC, which, hitherto, shared premises at Apapa with its main training base, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Quorra, now has a place of its own.

The relocation also seemingly decongests Apapa of the Navy as the crowded town, apart from the port complex, also hosts the headquarters of the Navy’s premier command, the Western Naval Command, and its main operations’ base, NNS Beecroft.

Equally noteworthy is the fact that NAVTRAC is now closer to its two key units, the NNC and the Nigerian Navy Basic Training School (NNBTS) which are co-located at Onne, not far from Eleme. The two establishments conduct basic training for officers and ratings, respectively.

NAVTRAC’s Area of Responsibility (AoR) covers essentially specialised naval training institutions in Lagos, Rivers, Delta, Abia, Ogun, Osun, Kwara, Benue, Kaduna and Kano States.

Nigeria’s military field structure

The three services of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) operate in the field through divisions and commands, at the apex, and their units.

A command in the Navy and Air Force is the equivalent of a division in the Army.

Going below, a base in the Navy and Air Force equate a brigade in the Army.

Further down, a Forward Operating Base (FOB) in the Navy and Air Force is similar to a battalion in the Army.

The Army also has FOBs but they are of temporary nature and of lesser status than the ones in the Navy, in particular. Ordinarily, all FOBs are supposed to be temporary formations but the Navy has somehow made its own permanent with well-built bases in the South-South and South-West zones of the country since the establishment of the first one at Ibaka in Mbo LGA of Akwa Ibom State in 1993.

A division in the Army consists of brigades while a brigade, in turn, comprises of battalions.

The other two services are stratified likewise.

The Nigerian Army presently has eight divisions. The divisions and their headquarters are:

1. 1 Division, Kaduna, Kaduna State

2. 2 Division, Ibadan, Oyo State

3. 3 Division, Jos, Plateau State

4. 82 Division, Enugu, Enugu State

5. 81 Division, Victoria Island, Lagos State

6. 7 Division, Maiduguri, Borno State

7. 6 Division, Port Harcourt, Rivers State

8. 8 Division, Sokoto, Sokoto State

The six commands in the Nigerian Navy and their headquarters are:

1. Western Naval Command, Apapa, Lagos State

2. Eastern Naval Command, Calabar, Cross River State

3. Naval Training Command, Ebubu-Eleme, Rivers State

4. Nigerian Navy Logistics’ Command, Oghara, Delta State

5. Central Naval Command, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State

6. Naval Doctrine Command, Victoria Island, Lagos State

There are also six commands in the Nigerian Air Force. The commands and their headquarters are:

1. Tactical Air Command, Makurdi, Benue State

2. Air Training Command, Kaduna, Kaduna State

3. Logistics’ Command, Ikeja, Lagos State

4. Mobility Command, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State

5. Ground Training Command, Enugu, Enugu State

6. Special Operations’ Command, Bauchi, Bauchi State

Military spread in South-South zone

Of the six South-South states, four have either a military command or division. The smallest state in size and population, Bayelsa, even has two. And with the relocation of NAVTRAC, Rivers equally now has two. Cross River and Delta have one each. Akwa Ibom and Edo do not have any, but the latter makes up for this lack with the presence of two strategic Army logistics training schools.

Also, all South-South states have air bases except Akwa Ibom.

Statistics

This writer has done a statistical survey of military formations in the South-South zone.

There is a glaring imbalance.

Take a look:

Akwa Ibom

1. 2 Brigade, Uyo

2. NNS Jubilee (an operations base), Ikot Abasi

3. 6 Battalion, Ibagwa, Abak

4. FOB, Ibaka, Mbo

Bayelsa

1. Operation Delta Safe (a Navy-led Joint Task Force operating in the zone and headquartered in the state), Yenagoa

2. Central Naval Command (an operations command), Yenagoa

3. Mobility Air Command, Yenagoa

4. 16 Brigade, Yenagoa

5. NNS Soroh (an operations base), Yenagoa

6. 235 Base Service Group, Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Base, Yenagoa

7. 5 Battalion, Oporoma

8. FOB, Formoso

Cross River

1. Eastern Naval Command (an operations’ command), Calabar

2. Naval War College Nigeria (the highest naval training institution in the country), Calabar

3. 13 Brigade (an amphibious brigade which falls under 82 Division), Calabar

4. NNS Victory (an operations’ base), Calabar

5. 207 Special Mobility Group (NAF Base), Calabar

6. Nigerian Army Amphibious Training School, Calabar

7. Nigerian Navy Reference Hospital, Calabar (one of the three tertiary health facilities operated by the Nigerian Navy)

8. 146 Battalion (an amphibious battalion), Calabar

9. 245 Recce Battalion, Ikom

10. 130 Battalion, Ogoja

11. 341 Artillery Regiment, Ogoja

12. Navy Logistics’ Depot, Calabar

13. Naval Air Station, Calabar (to be constructed)

14. Naval Outpost, Mfum, Ikom (at the site level)

Delta

1. Admiralty University of Nigeria, Ibusa (owned by the Navy)

2. Nigerian Navy Logistics’ Command, Oghara

3. Naval Institute of Technology, Sapele

4. 63 Brigade, Asaba

5. NNS Delta (an operations’ base), Warri

6. 371 FOB (NAF), Warri

7. 3 Battalion, Effurun

8. 222 Battalion, Agbara-Otor, Ughelli

9. 181 Amphibious Battalion, Agbor

10. FOB, Escravos

11. Naval Air Station, Effurun

12. Navy Logistics’ Depot, Sapele

13. Nigerian Navy Garment Factory, Sapele

Edo

1. Nigerian Army School of Supply and Transport, Benin City

2. Nigerian Army School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, Auchi

3. 4 Brigade (a mechanised brigade which falls under 2 Division), Benin City

4. 107 Air Maritime Group (NAF Base), Benin City

5. 195 Battalion, Agenebode

6. 322 Artillery Regiment, Benin City

Rivers

1. 6 Division (the division’s AoR covers brigades and battalions in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers States), Port Harcourt

2. Naval Training Command, Ebubu-Eleme

3. NNS Pathfinder (an operations’ base), Port Harcourt

4. 115 Special Operations’ Group (NAF Base), Port Harcourt

5. Nigerian Naval College, Onne

6. Nigerian Navy Basic Training School, Onne

7. Nigerian Navy Hydrographic School, Port Harcourt

8. Naval Shipyard Limited, Port Harcourt

9. Nigerian Navy Intelligence School, Ubima

10. 29 Battalion, Port Harcourt

11. 5 Battalion, Elele

12. 343 Artillery Regiment, Elele

13. FOB, Bonny

14. Naval Outpost, Ikuru

15. Naval Flying Unit, Port Harcourt

16. Navy Logistics’ Depot, Port Harcourt

Note that this survey covers, in the main, formations of the “teeth”, logistics and training arms of the military. Non-combat institutions like military secondary and primary schools as well as regular military hospitals, which are present in all six states, are not included.

The second part of this feature will focus on Governor Umo Eno’s Strides in Security Management, Amphibious Battalion as the Silver Bullet and more.

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