Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodimma has said that the economic and security benefits of establishing a Naval Base in Imo State cannot be under estimated.
He has therefore expressed the willingness of his government to support whatever it will take to ensure effective presence of the Nigerian Navy in Imo.
Governor Uzodimma spoke Thursday when he accompanied a team of Naval officers from Abuja to inspect Naval facilities at Osse Moto in Oguta Local Government Area of the State, a place meant for the proposed Naval Base.
Governor Uzodimma said: “There is both economic and security justification for the Navy to come into Imo State as soon as possible as this will make life more meaningful and help to curb all forms of vices perpetrated along the riverine communities in Imo State.”
The Governor maintained that the call for Nigerian Navy to establish presence in the communities living on the river bank in Imo State will “help in the protection and management of maritime activities in the areas, hence the willingness of the State to partner with the Nigerian Navy in the rehabilitation of the existing dilapidated and abandoned facilities at Osse Moto Community in Oguta Local Government Area of the State.”
He reiterated that doing so will help to checkmate the rising cases of banditry, illegal oil bunkering and other economic sabotage activities that tend to hamper the economic growth of the area in particular and the State in general.
Governor Uzodimma used the opportunity of the visit to warn parents, youths and all those involved in illegal businesses along the riverine areas of the State “to think twice as Government will not take such activities lightly.”
The Governor expatiated: “All over the world oil producing areas are considered national economic resource area, hence, anybody going there to tamper with the public asset or to sabotage the only source of income to Nigeria will have to face the consequences of the law.
“The presence of Navy in Oguta and Imo State in general goes beyond revenue but include National and internal security, protection of the property and lives of indigenes of the area from the hands and nefarious activities of the unknown gunmen and sponsors of illegal bunkering.
“Also if security is guaranteed along the riverine areas, the massive land area will have an added value, it will activate industrial clusters and provide opportunities for those that leave there and life will be made more meaningful.”
Speaking at the palace of the traditional ruler of Osse Moto, Governor Uzodimma informed that the establishment of a Naval Base in Oguta and along the riverine will provide an opportunity to harness the huge natural endowment within and to solve some internal security problems.
The Governor thanked the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Gambo for approving the establishment of a maritime Naval Base in Imo State considering the fact that “their presence is an assurance to the overall safety of the State.”
The Governor requested the people of Oguta, especially the youths, to cooperate with the Nigerian Navy so as to realize the essence of project as soon as possible.
Traditional Ruler of Osse Moto Autonomous Community, Oguta LGA, HRH Eze Franklin Okafor, prayed for the Governor’s successful tenure in the State, and advised detractors to sheathe their sword as the Governor’s coming to power is divine.
He pledged the support of his people and Oguta in general to the commencement of activities at the Naval Base and to assist in the realization of the project.
Leader of the Naval team to Imo State, Rear Admiral Odogwu Ezekobe told the audience that their presence in Oguta will afford them the opportunity to synergize with other units within the Niger Delta since they already have presence at Mbiama, Yenegoa and Brass. Rear Admiral Ezekobe noted that additionally, it will help them have a panoramic view of what is happening at the hinterland and hopefully curb all forms of illegality and criminality within the region.
Earlier during a courtesy call on the Governor at the Government House, Rear Admiral Ezekobe had acknowledged the cordial relationship between Governor Uzodimma and the Chief of Naval Staff and hinted about their readiness to commence activities at the Base immediately.
Those that accompanied the Governor on the visit to Osse Moto were the Naval officers from Abuja, Commodore S. H. Abudulahi, Commandant Finance and Logistics Nigerian Navy Owerenta, the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Barr. Nnamdi Anyaehie, and members of the Imo State Executive Council.