By Chiemelie Ezeobi
President Goodluck Jonathan Friday again harped on the need to encourage local content in all sectors in the country and commended the Nigerian Navy and Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ola Saad Ibrahim, for their efforts in protecting the nation’s waterways.
The president made the comment at the Naval Dockyard, Victoria Island, Lagos, when he inaugurated the first warship to be manufactured locally, a Seaward Defence Boat, constructed by the Nigerian Navy.
The inauguration was held as part of the week-long 56th anniversary celebration of the navy.
Declaring that the featwas a sign of better things to come in the armed forces and the country at large, President Jonathan said it was time for Nigerians to look inward and produce things locally instead of relying on other countries.
Jonathan said the commissioning of the Nigeria Navy Ship (NNS) Andoni, solely built and fitted by naval engineers, the warship would be deployed to fight sea criminals across the nation’s territorial waters.
The President said: “The commissioning of the new ship is the beginning of transformation in the country and in another 10 to 15 years, we would be starting a project that would take Nigeria to space. We have creative and intelligent people in Nigeria.
“Today, I am particularly pleased because Nigeria at independence had Nigeria Airways, Nigeria Shipping Line and quite a number of other investments and they were doing quite well.
“But because there was no indigenous touch, all these died over a period. And we refused to embrace technology. We are told that the countries that were at par with us, some of them have built aircraft, choppers.”
He added: “With the government repositioning the country, we encourage the Nigerian content even in the oil industry. The new crop of Nigerian engineers have begun a revolution by manufacturing most things locally now.
“A number of things are being fabricated locally. I was in Lagos not too long ago and I saw equipment for drilling and marine that are being built. This is the beginning of transformation. You cannot transform without technological revolution as a nation, this is the beginning.”
The President said it was one of the reasons his administration came up with a special scholarship for intelligent and brilliant students.
“I am not saying only those who have First Class are brilliant. Some of the people we celebrate all over the world are school drop-outs, yet they are just creative,” he said.
The Naval Chief, Vice-Admiral Ola Ibrahim, said the success of manufacturing NNS Andoni in Nigeria showed the navy’s commitment to the transformation agenda of President Jonathan.
He said: “The completion of this boat is a testimony of our commitment to the local content regime and the spirit of the Jonathan transformation agenda.”
Noting that the human capital to continue to deliver is readily available, he promised that the entire NN family would not disappoint the nation as it strives to add at least one vessel to the NN fleet yearly.
“It gladdens my heart to state that this SDB was designed and built after other River Town Class Patrol Craft in the NN inventory such as NNS Yola and NNS Brass, albeit with several modifications.
“The basin and sea trials of the boat were successfully carried out in compliance with International Maritime Organisation’s Certification,” he said.
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