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Monday, May 16, 2011

Obama approves donation of ship to Nigeria

More facts have emerged on why the United States government transferred the ownership of one its two veteran war ships to Nigeria.The gesture was to facilitate the removal of former Ivorien President Laurent Gbagbo, and to help Nigeria’s military leadershipin the West African region. The US on Friday in California handed over its war ship, Chase, now renamed NNS Thunder, to Nigeria, while the second ship, Hamilton, was donatedto the Philippines. Earlier reports had reported that the two ships were given to Nigeria. An online news portal, Empowered Newswire, on Saturday, reported that the US President, Barack Obama, had last January granted the request at the peak of the Ivorien crisis. According to US and Nigerian diplomatic and military sources in California, the donation of the ship to Nigeria may have been partly influenced by the political crisis in Ivory Coast where the defeated President Laurent Gbagbo refused to hand-over power causing intense diplomatic activities in the West African region. A senior Nigerian diplomat explained that the US President gave the authority to supply a ship of the class of the former US Chase to Nigeria in January in reaction to Nigeria’s growing readinessto ensure the removal of Gbagbo from office even if by military force. Also, a US source added that the President and the US Department of Navy which is the implementing agency on the grant okayed the transfer exactly on January 13, 2011 at which time it was not clear which of the ships would be given to Nigeria. Speaking with Empowered Newswire in California at the transfer ceremony, Nigeria’s Ambassador to the US, Prof. Adebowale Adefuye, confirmed that the donation of the ship would further enhance Nigeria’s military leadership role in the region. Adefuye added that the ship would enhance the peace and security of the region and promote democracy in West Africa by partly serving as a deterrent to dictators. Also speaking on the ship transfer to Nigeria, Mr. Charles Richards, the Public Affairs Chief of the US Coast Guards base in Alameda, California, Mr. Charles Richards, explained that Nigeria did not have to pay for the ship since it was a grant from the US government.He, however, explained that there were other charges including the cost of training of Nigerian crew who will manage the ship that Nigeria will have to pay for. In addition, Richards said there would also be charges for the fuel that would be used to transfer the ship to Nigeria, a trip to start later in July at the end of the training of the crew. Besides, there are also charges for the new equipment to be installed on the ship and the communication gear also. He put all the costs that Nigeria will be paying at about $8m. Meanwhile, though Nigeria has now taken over the control of the US ship, under the rules governing the transaction, Nigeria cannot in the future transfer the ship to another country that may use it against US national security.
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