Stories Around the Globe

Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo: Effective Management of Modern Maritime Security

It is more difficult to stay on top than to get there” – Mie Hamm

 A few months ago, precisely on January 26th, 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) appointed new Service Chiefs for the country. Rear Admiral A. Z. Gambo was appointed Chief of Naval Staff. He was found competent and worthy to drive the next level of the PMB administration in the Nigerian Navy.

Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo’s appointment came at a time when the country was facing serious security challenges and he, as expected by Nigerians, got to work immediately by tackling the worsening insecurity across Nigeria’s territorial waters, which had made life difficult for Nigerians.

He unveiled his vision and mission, envisioning the Navy of his dream, during his maiden meeting with principal staff officers, flag officers, and commanders of autonomous units of the Nigerian Navy. He directed all operations commanders to sustain the aggressive clearance operations to make suspected militants’ pirate camps non-conducive for any nefarious activities to thrive. He also rejected the resurging incidents of piracy and sea robbery within Nigerian waters.

Right from the start, his stewardship tilted towards human capacity development through result-oriented training for enhanced professionalism, as well as strengthening logistics support and maintenance capabilities, to sustain equipment serviceability and platform availability.

While his statements were set to guide his stewardship of the Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu reiterated his readiness to promote and sustain the Nigerian Navy’s core values of integrity, professionalism, and teamwork. He also promised to ensure that personnel welfare is accorded high priority towards enhanced patriotism, productivity, innovation, commitment, and dedication.

He also pledged to Nigerians, personnel, and officers of the Nigerian Navy and those around riverine and coastal areas, a unique strategy that will ensure that the nation’s waters remain safe from all forms of maritime criminalities. On his zero-tolerance for indiscipline and criminal activities, Zubairu promised to formulate policies to sanction identified Nigerian Navy personnel who collude with economic saboteurs and other criminals. 

An important area the new Naval Chief needs to pay attention to is taming corruption and identifying the bad eggs in the naval service. The immediate past Chief of Naval Staff, while handing over, lamented that many officers of the Nigerian Navy still connive with illegal bunkers, sea robbers, oil thieves, and other maritime criminals to undermine the existence of the country. He said the negligence of the officers at their duty post is aggravating challenges in the maritime sector. 

The story of the 21st indigenous Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) and the 9th, since the return of democracy in the country, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, is the triumph of human fortune. His life is proof that, with a strong will to succeed in life, and a divine nod to one’s actions, one can turn all obstacles into blessings. The consistent professional helped him attain greatness by building a fruitful naval career from the bottom to the top echelon of the Nigerians Navy. 

After just seven months in office, CNS Gambo has made significant progress in fulfilling his vision and mission, and has brought sweeping changes in returning the Navy to its core mandate of providing maritime security in tandem with global best practices. He has commissioned maritime patrol assets; gunboats, houseboat, high-tech intersectors, surveillance drones, etc. donated to the Nigerian Navy by Aiteo Global Group. Also, under A Z Gambo, the Nigerian Navy and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, have held a meeting on research into the use of local materials for the protection of ship decks against corrosion. The Nigerian Navy has secured 100 hectares of land for the establishment of a Naval Base in Kano State.

The Nigerian Navy (NN) has launched a new Landing Ship Tank (LST) at Damen Shipyard, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. The construction of the ship began about 2 years ago and when commissioned, will replace the first set of LSTs of the NN, NNS AMBE, and NNS OFIOM, which have been decommissioned.

The introduction of the LST to the NN inventory will bolster NN sealift capability. Specifically, it would enhance the transportation of troops, military hardware, and vehicles in the conduct of maritime security operations launched from the sea, as well as supply of relief material during the period of national emergency.

 According to the CNS, the last top management retreat was intended to remind participants of the critical role played by campaign planning in developing the ability of commanders to understand the task at hand, plan effectively, employ systemic framework to make smarter operational decisions, and minimise operations risk at all levels of command in the Service. Acknowledging the need to build a robust feedback mechanism, especially one that promotes accountability, Admiral Gambo recalled several attempts at stimulating an effective management regime through the emplacement of a robust feedback mechanism that requires commanders at all levels to sign a performance bond.

The CNS reminded the participants that the retreat was being held at a critical period when the country faced COVID-19 pandemic challenges, with tightened budget restrictions and multifaceted security challenges across the nation. This situation, he emphasised, called for prudent resource management, innovation, accountability and deep reflection that would engender patriotic rededication to service. He affirmed that financial management was a key topic for discussion during the retreat and expects that the event would bring all commanders up to speed in the need for prudent utilisation of resources, as the NN under his watch will have zero tolerance for wastages.

The new CNS’ quick start in office clearly shows great sense of responsibility, exceptional courage, sincerity of purpose, and readiness to take the Nigerian Navy to a higher unprecedented level. There is no doubt that his legacies shall remain a continuous source of inspiration for many generations to come.


Ahmad and Dansardauna wrote in from Kano and can be reached on