The Senate, yesterday, urged the Presidency to take over and resuscitate the largest ship in the fleet of the Nigerian Navy, NNS Aradu.
The upper legislative chamber also called for a roundtable of stakeholders such as the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety (NIMASA), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigerian Customs and Excise, and Nigerian Immigration Services to fashion out a funding regime and facilitate refitting and refurbishing of the ship.
These were part of resolutions reached following a motion that was considered during plenary.
The motion was sponsored by Senator George Thompson Sekibo (PDP, Rivers East) and co-sponsored by 14 other lawmakers.
Sekibo, in his presentation, said NNS Aradu is one of the first of the MEKO 360 general-purpose frigates built by one of the biggest shipbuilders in Germany and commissioned on February 22, 1982.
“The misfortune of NNS Aradu was the transfer of the ship from the Presidency to the Nigerian Navy (for maintenance), which could not afford to keep it afloat properly due to the envelope budget system.” Sekibo said.
He described NNS Aradu as the equivalent of Air Force One in the Presidential Fleet. He expressed concern that Nigeria has no flagship on its seas today and has lost its dreaded sea power among African nations.
He disclosed that refitting the ship would require over $200 million dollars at current exchange rate, while replacing the same would require more than $700 million.
He also expressed optimism in Nigeria’s ability to refit the ailing ship to take her place in the comity of naval formations in Africa and the world.
ALSO, Senate amended the National Health Insurance Act (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill 2021, passed by the National Assembly in April last year.
The amendment followed the consideration of a motion for re-committal of some clauses by the Committee of the Whole.
Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi North), sponsored the motion.
Deputy Leader, Ajayi Boroffice, in his presentation on behalf of the Senate Leader, recalled that the National Assembly transmitted the bill after its passage to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent on April 23, 2020.
He observed that the President, after critical examination of the bill, raised some fundamental issues which, according to him, required fresh legislative action to clauses 20, 24(2), and 25(2)(c).
Boroffice explained that the decision by the National Assembly to amend the bill was in line with the need to address all observations raised by the President.
Accordingly, the upper chamber deleted clause 20 of the bill, which provides for Third Party Administrator. It also amended the provisions of clause 24(2) on implementation of Basic Health Care Fund.