Dr. Yusuf Bala Usman of blessed memory was one of the leading intellectuals in this country that drew a massive dividing line between ignorance and illiteracy, knowing well how dangerous ignorant, yet academically certified, individuals are to the unity and progress of Nigeria.
There is doubt that mutilation in one’s thinking is more harmful to the owner when it meets flagrant display of ignorance about a particular scenario.
In Chief Edwin Clark’s case, who recently went on the rampage on the innocent people of Kano State, the government, President Buhari and the Chief of Naval Staff, it is nothing short of excessive bias in judging those he views as “others”.
However, it is spectacularly and glaringly shameful to note that people like Chief Edwin Clark, who are quick at adorning their hats with a halo of statesmanship, could open their mouth wide and make ignorant statements on a Naval Base discussion – despite lacking in understanding of the basic requisites of Naval Base and its attending peculiarities.
We deliberately gave the Chief a chance of over two weeks to retract his position on the proposed Kano Naval base after visiting some literatures or making consultations with those informed within the stated period.
But since he has failed to do so, he deserves our explanation, however a bitter pill for him to swallow.
While we don’t join words with myopic individuals, who do not see beyond their nose, we owe well-intentioned Nigerians an explanation for the good of all.
Furthermore there is no way we, as concerned Nigerians, can allow vested interests free rein, an unchallenged one for that matter, to continue to feast on the minds of less informed, or better misinformed, Nigerians.
At this trying time in Nigeria when innovative state governors like Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State, to whom the security of life and property of their citizens matters a lot, should be commended for their timely response to the insecurity ravaging the country from almost every angle, it is sad that Edwin Clerk and his ilk are busy politicizing the issue; and by so doing promoting disunity.
Upon hearing that the Navy highest authority has approved to establish a base in Kano State, the most populous state in Nigeria, Clark, who does have any knowledge of the genesis of the move nor a fraction of understanding of how Naval Bases across the world work, flew off the handle, perhaps out of his hatred for the Buhari administration and “others”, in this case Kano State.
We may not have a concrete reason to accuse Clark of machinations against security of life and property in Nigeria, but his unwholesome comment and personal attack on the people of Kano State, President Muahmmadu Buhari and the Chief of Naval Staff is something to look at very critically.
In a disjointed open letter addressed to the Chief of Naval Staff (SCN) Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, on Monday, September 20, 2021, Clark who was absent all this while, appeared from nowhere to not only condemn the approval of the naval base in Kano, but also cast a diminutive portrayal of state.
It is apparent that down there Clark may have hidden intentions other than the poorly veiled argument he raised on the suitability of citing a Naval Base in Kano or otherwise.
We expected Clark, as one of the influential politicians and, so to speak, ‘statesman’ in his state, Delta State, to prod the state governor to sit up and creatively come up with a workable solution that will address the problem of Deltan youth. This is what is called healthy competition. Was Clark after that? No.
First, it is instructive to understand that Clark was not aware of the strenuous efforts and commitment Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje had made from day one of his visit to the Naval Headquarters in Abuja to see eye-to-eye with the CNS and make a formal request for a Naval Base in his state.
A commitment of 100 hectares of land in the state for the project was made and the subsequent actions followed. This is leadership by example. All fruits that followed didn’t come from the sky, anyway.
As a follow-up, the CNS was in Kano for a three-day visit; first at Bayero University, Kano, where he presented a paper; then on a courtesy visit to the governor; and thereafter took a sightseeing tour around the state.
Since it is in the “Sahel” as he called it, Clark was quick to argue that “the move is one of the nepotistic actions by the Buhari’s regime” – in total disregard to the concerted efforts both the CNS and the governor made.
To the dismay of patriotic Nigerians, Clark, aided by a section of the media, which has become to Nigeria what Judas was to Jesus, succeeded in turning a simple matter of citing a Naval Logistics College in Kano, a state in Nigeria, into a South versus North, or ‘we’ against ‘you’, affair.
Two, it is clear that ‘The Chief’ was unacquainted with the Chief of Naval Staff’s presentation at the Chief of Naval Staff Annual Conference 2021, between 1st and 4th September in Kano.
Had he, he would have learnt that the Nigerian Naval Board approved Naval Bases in some selected states to which Kano falls as part of its effort to “showcase the effort of the Nigerian Navy for keeping the nation as one indivisible nation”.
As explained further by the Naval spokesperson, Suleman Dahun, the proposed Naval Base in Kano is intended to be a home to the newly created Nigerian Navy Logistics College. Simply put, the Nigerian Navy is currently involved in various internal security operations beyond its primary maritime security roles.
Third, and the most important, in an educated piece that schooled both Edwin and his co-travellers, especially the said section of the media that misleads and misinforms its audiences, many Nigerians exposed the propaganda and lies spewed by those he called ‘unpatriotic’ citizens in relation to the proposed Naval Base in Kano.
Naval Bases, as would be supported by irrefutable evidences, must not be in the riverine areas to operate. Accordingly, there is no doubt the unpatriotic has but little understanding of the term NAVY in the first place.
Even in the most developed countries in the world, there are Naval Bases land-locked yet they operate. For example the Naval Air Station (NAS), located in middle Mississippi and the US Navy Base in Great Lakes for Naval Training in North of Chicago, Illinois are for those who reflect to see.
This is obtainable, too, in China, as many could see, is home to testing nearly every significant airborne weapon system the Chinese Navy and Marine Corps developed for a long time now. Even Dr Diala attests to this in his piece.
How Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Central African Republic, Kazakhstan, Laos, Paraguay, Rwanda, Serbia, Turkmenistan, and Uganda, as landlocked nations, operate their Navy is left for the progenitors of this argument to explain.
It is informative here also if we cite an example with how the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DevGru) known as SEAL Team Six killed Osama Bin Laden in 2010. We wonder if it was a warship that was used to undertake the mission that ended the ten-year search for Bin Laden.
It is part of our argument that no right-thinking Nigerian should pay attention to people like Edwin Clark, who are only good at making divisive comments.
It is instructive to note that, even the Chief of Naval Staff, through the Chief of Training and Operations of the Navy, Rear Admiral Abraham Adaji, explained to all the critics, particularly Chief Clark, in an elementary way, since they could not understand the basic information about Kano Naval Base, that,
“The Nigerian Navy is heavily involved in the anti insurgency, anti terrorism and also internal security operations across the North.
In the North East where we have Joint Task Force, the Navy has over 170 personnel that are fighting alongside the Army and the Airforce to combat the threats that we face.
Equally in the North West where we have the Joint Task Force, the Navy has over 250 persons that are fighting the counter banditry and all other issues of insecurity there.”
We are therefore calling on Edwin Clark and the like to know that, it is not only in Kano, that Navy is present, where there is no water, as defined by Clark.
Comrade Musbahu Saleh
Regional Coordinator, South South