Bight Newspaper reports that the Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, has called on the Federal Government to review its policy of using non-state actors in its effort to secure the maritime environment of the country.

Senator Diri,who expressed concern that the continued use of such unconventional security agents might cause greater security challenges in the near future, called for the strengthening of the Nigerian Navy to perform its constitutional responsibility.

Governor Diri made the call on Monday during a courtesy visit by the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogala, at Government House in Yenagoa.

Represented by his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, the Governor stressed that private individuals and groups should not be allowed to execute oil pipelines surveillance and protection contracts independent of the supervision of conventional security agencies.

He pointed out that safeguarding the nation’s territorial waters is the exclusive preserve of the Navy and should be supported in every way possible to enable it effectively secure oil and other critical national assets in coastal communities.

According to him, ‘already there had been reported cases of violation of human rights and security breaches by surveillance contractors in local communities around the state.”

The Bayelsa Chief Executive used the opportunity to commend officers and men of the Nigerian Navy serving in the state for demonstrating professionalism in discharging their official duties, which he noted, had helped Bayelsa to remain one of the most peaceful states in the country.

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While calling on the navy to sustain the tempo, Governor Diri suggested to the Chief of Naval Staff to give official recognition and rewards to the officers for their professional efficiency so far.

His words: “The cry of the Bayelsa State Government is that non-state actors are not the best to protect our oil assets. In the name of oil pipeline protection contracts, most of them violate the rights of our people in our localities.

“Let us not do things that we will regret as a country tomorrow. What the Federal Government is doing right now is like cutting the nose to spice the face.

“You don’t need to cut off your head because you have rotten teeth. You simply look for took brush. You will be surprised that we will get to a point where some of these non-state actors will start to challenge is.

“I will suggest that the Nigerian Navy should be allowed to play that role to protect our critical oil assets. The Federal Government should therefore rejig or reinvent its security strategy to securing these assets.

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Continuing he said: “Bayelsa State and the Nigerian Navy are one. The Navy is part of us, and we are part of the Navy.

“The naval officers in Bayelsa State are very professional in their duties. I have to commend for that. They have helped make Bayelsa one of the safest states in Nigeria.

“The Navy should give these officers an official recognition and reward them accordingly for their high professional efficiency.

Earlier in his remarks, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogala, said the Nigerian Navy could not do without Bayelsa State in view of the state’s strategic location and the critical oil and gas facilities it is hosting in the Niger Delta.

Admiral Ogala, who described the recent electoral victory of the Governor and his Deputy as a true victory for the people of Bayelsa, appealed to the Government and people of the state to sustain their goodwill towards the Navy for better services.

The Chief of Naval Staff particularly called on oil bearing communities to see the Navy as a friend and to show cooperation in the provision of credible information to curb criminality in the state.

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He said, “Your victory is a victory for the people of Bayelsa State. You have done well in your first term and you will even do more in your second term.

“Bayelsa and the Nigerian are partners because Bayelsa is in the core of the Niger Delta. Bayelsa holds a lot of resources in oil and gas, and the protection of these assets is a key role of the Navy. The Navy’s duty is to create an enabling environment for the oil companies to produce their maximum output, and there has been significant improvement so far in the last six months.

“This is possible with the cooperation of the Bayelsa State Government and the people; the Bayelsa State Government has also provided resources to the Navy. So we have a cordial relationship with the oil-producing communities, and we need more cooperation in intelligence and information to curb criminality around the facilities.”

Bayelsa State Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo in a group photo with the Chief of Naval Staff and his entourage in Government House, Yenagoa on Monday

The Chief of Naval Staff was accompanied on the visit by several top-ranking naval officers, including the Flag Officer Commanding, Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral S.J, Bura, and the Commander of NNS Soroh, Commodore A.O. Ojebode.

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