…no cause for alarm, Navy assures Nigerians
A naval fleet of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) led by the warship Nanning arrived on Sunday in Lagos, Nigeria for a rare visit by the Chinese military to Africa’s Atlantic coast.
Navy’s spokesperson, Commodore Ayo Vaughan said that the Chinese warship, MSL DESTROYER that docked in Lagos port was on diplomatic visit to Nigeria, assuring there was nothing to worry about.
The Chinese ambassador to Nigeria, Cui Jianchun hailed the five-day visit as a milestone in ties, and the Nigerian navy expressed willingness to work with China to tackle maritime security threats and maintain stability in the Gulf of Guinea, the Chinese embassy said in a statement on Monday.
The destroyer and an accompanying frigate, Sanya, along with a supply ship, Weishanhu, arrived off the port of Lagos, with the Nanning berthing for a port of call through Thursday, the Nigerian navy said in a statement.
In January, Nigeria opened a billion-dollar Chinese-built deep seaport in Lagos. State-owned China Harbour Engineering Co and the Singapore-based Tolaram group have a joint 75 percent stake in the new Lekki deep sea port, one of the region’s biggest. Jianchun called the project a “game changer”.
The arrival of the ship was met with warm reception by the officials of the Nigerian Navy at the Western Naval Command, led by Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Rear Admiral Joseph Apkan.
Commodore Vaughan said Nigeria and China have a long standing relationship, adding that the visit was to strengthen that relationship.
He said: “It is said that the navy is an instrument of diplomacy. Therefore, all navies in the world have diplomatic responsibility to do what is called in naval parlance flag showing visit for foreign countries where they have diplomatic and bilateral ties. The Nigerian Navy also does it, even though not very often. Because such visits from across two oceans are quite expensive due to the time and effort.
“So, it is not a strange thing that the Chinese are doing this port visit. Americans, Europeans, French and Spanish do it very often. Sometime last year the European Union rejigged its standing relationship with the Gulf of Guinea (GOG) nations by bringing three of their ships, a Spanish ship, Italian ship and one other ship, all in the name and security of the GOG.
“As you are also aware, the Chinese have interest in Nigeria and a growing interest in Africa. But that is not the issue; the issue is that it is just a routine visit by a Chinese warship. It is to further foster and show the bilateral ties that exist between Nigeria and China.
“You recalled that last year the Chinese gifted the Nigerian government a ship, which was handed over to the Nigerian Navy at our base in Apapa. Also there was some equipment that was handed over to the Nigerian Army, also from the Chinese government.
“Between 2010 and 2012, Nigeria built two ships, offshore patrol vessels, in China; and the good gesture was rewarded with the gift of a ship. And recently, we got another ship gift from China. So, the Chinese have a long standing relationship with Nigeria. Hence, this visit of the Chinese MSL DESTROYER is a flag showing visit. It will allow them to visit their embassy and places of interest in Lagos, exchange pleasantries, and play novelty matches with our sailors. It is a normal naval tradition,” he concludes.Follow us on social media