Speaking, Wednesday, during the launching of the sophisticated patrol boats at the NNS Pathfinder in Port Harcourt, Wike said that security on the waterways would help in the acceleration of development in the Niger Delta.
The governor noted that the Nigerian Navy had taken steps to stem the crude oil theft in the Niger Delta region by strengthening the security on the nation’s waterways.
The governor also added that the state government would provide support to the Nigerian Navy in the operation of the 25 Epenal security boats acquired for the Nigerian Navy Ship Pathfinder, Port Harcourt.
He further pointed out that the local construction of the Epenal Security Boats had helped in the creation of jobs in the country and the improvement of the capacity of Nigerian ship manufacturers.
“The Rivers State Government is happy with the Naval High Command for deploying these boats in 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.”
Commending the Federal Government for the measures taken to improve the operational capacity of the military, Wike added that the state government would 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 would help the navy.
Also, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ibas, said it was the first time security boats were being produced locally and added that the production was half the cost of importing the security boats.
He said that the boats had the required security features to deter criminals on the waterways.
The Managing Director of Epenal Group, Mr. Lele Aaron, said it was in the best interest of the country to encourage local ship manufacturers for the creation of jobs and building of capacity.