Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has commended the Naval High Command for taking concrete measures to stem the theft of crude oil in the Niger Delta by strengthening the security architecture of the waterways.
The governor also added that the state government will provide logistics support to the Nigerian Navy in the operation of the 25 Epenal Security Boats acquired for the NNS Pathfinder, Port Harcourt.
Speaking during the launching of the 25 Epenal Security Boats at the NNS Pathfinder on Wednesday in Port Harcourt, Governor Wike said that security in the waterways will help in the acceleration of development in the Niger Delta.
He said that the local construction of the Epenal Security Boats has helped in the creation of jobs in the country and the improvement of the capacity of Nigerian Ship manufacturers.
He said: “The Rivers State Government is happy with the Naval High Command for deploying these boats to this region. It will help in reducing oil theft. This will in turn have a positive impact on our economy.
“These boats will also check violent crimes in the creeks and improve the standard of living of our people. The Rivers State Government will provide logistics support in the operation of the boats”.
While commending the Federal Government for the measures taken to improve the operational capacity of the military, Governor Wike stated that the state government will always cooperate with the armed forces on Security matters.
In his remarks, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin said the decision of the Navy to commission an indigenous company to produce the boats will develop the required indigenous capacity for the manufacture of defence equipment.
He said the country was passing through challenging times in terms of security management, noting that the deployment of the additional 25 boats will help the navy.
Also speaking, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ibas said it is the first time security boats are being produced locally. He said that the production is half the cost of importing the security boats.
He said that the boats have the required security features to deter criminals in the waterways.
The Managing Director of Epenal Group, Mr Lele Aaron said it is in the best interest of the country to encourage local ship manufacturers for the creation of jobs and capacity.
Highpoint of the programme was the introduction of the boats to the waterways.