An elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, has written to President Muhammadu Buhari explaining why the federal government should stop the proposed naval base project in Kano.
Clark, a former Minister of Information, in the letter titled; ‘Establishment of a naval base in Kano in the heart of the Sahel?’ and made available to newsmen on Monday during a press conference in Abuja, said the idea was ill-conceived.
The federal government had recently proposed the building of a naval base in Kano.
Sequel to this, the state governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, had reportedly donated 100 hectares of land at Dawakin Tofa community for that purpose.
But Clark said it was ridiculous for the federal government to build a naval base in Kano, which he argued is in the middle of the Sahel and has no water for the navigation of naval warships.
The Ijaw leader said the Sahel is under threat of total desertification, adding that if additional naval bases were to be built in the country, the states in the Niger Delta region should be considered.
Part of the letter reads; “Your Excellency, please, permit me at this juncture to ask you a few questions about your country.
“The question here is, how possible will it be to navigate a navy warship through the waters of Lagos to the desert Naval Base in Kano which you want to build? Or is there a waterway to take one from Lagos to Kano? Or do you want to create an artificial ocean?
“Or is it because you control the government, other Nigerians can be treated shabbily, as second-class citizens, without involving them in the development of the country in their area.
“If there is more need for Naval Bases to be built or established in the country outside Lagos, what has happened to the coastal states of Nigeria, particularly in the Niger Delta area where much of the country’s shoreline exists and needs to be protected?
“I believe you know that at present there is no serious Naval Base in such critical riverine areas such as Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Ondo States.
“In Delta State, for instance, major coastal towns such as Koko, Sapele, Burutu and Forcados terminals, have the need for a naval base. But it is sad that there are no functional ones located in those places.
“There used to be a Naval Base in Sapele, but for reasons best known to the federal government, it was downgraded to a training school, and in fact, now abandoned.
“The so-called Warri Naval Base is nothing to write home about.
“As of today, the Base is not functioning as it ought to be. Large navy warships which used to patrol the waters, providing protection, can no longer do so, due to the fact that the rivers are silted and the federal government has refused to dredge them.
“The structure where the base is housed was not properly designed and constructed with the intent of building a Naval Base. It is an old colonial building that was acquired and quickly renovated to serve as a Naval Base during the civil war in 1967.
“Bayelsa State is entirely surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the River Niger, yet there is no Naval Bases there to protect the shores of Nigeria and the oil companies,” he said.