History was made on December 3, 2019, when President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled the first set of combat and light infantry patrol vehicles designed at the Nigerian Army Command Engineering Depot. They were built at the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), Kaduna.
Unveiling the batches of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) and the light armoured infantry patrol vehicles which were all designed and manufactured by Nigerian Army Engineers and their local partners, is a turning point in the country’s efforts toward substantial self-reliance in the designing and fabrication of military equipment.
The local fabrication and supply of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle and the armoured patrol equipment is the latest publicised major home-made military procurement; which is a result of a commendable compliance with the directive of the President to the Ministry of Defence to prepare a plan for the establishment of a Military Industrial Complex in the country.
It can be recalled that the President gave the directive at the graduation ceremony of the National Defence College, Abuja in 2015 where he said Nigeria’s over-dependence on other countries for critical military equipment and logistics was unacceptable.
“We must evolve viable mechanisms for near self-sufficiency in military equipment and logistics production complemented only by very advanced foreign technologies,” the President said in the speech.
While DICON and the research arm of the Nigerian Army are making joint efforts to achieve the goals set by the President through collaborative projects, the Nigerian Navy too has entered into an agreement with Nigerian Ship Builders for the fabrication of 100 gun boats, patrol vessels, ambulance boats, mass transit boats and boat houses with special adaptations for efficient naval operations. Some of the boats are fitted with automatic grenade launchers (AGL).
The Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, said the locally-built vessels “contribute to Nigeria’s national security and prosperity and come at half the cost of acquiring vessels from overseas.”
The Nigerian Navy has earlier built NNS ANDONI, which is a Seaward Defence Boat (SDB). The Navy also built NNS KARADUWA, which is a 38.9 meter-long boat designated as SDB II. NNS KARADUWA can carry a crew of 37 while its weapons comprise a remote-controlled 20mm gun, six 12.7 machine guns and one 40mm AGL. President Buhari commissioned it in December 2016.
In its inward-looking drive, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has signed an agreement with Machine Tools, Oshogbo, covering training, machining, fabrication, casting as well as research and development. It also covers the development and provision of Personal, Vehicular and Aircraft Protective Equipment.
The Nigerian Air Force has equally signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with 15 universities in the country for research and development purposes.
The Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) Kaduna showcased its Research and Development (R&D) breakthroughs during its 47th convocation ceremony. They include a prototype Oleo-Pneumatic Shock Absorber for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), an Automatic Solar Tracking System and a Rocket Launcher Circuit Test Box. Others were a prototype of Light Weight Helicopter, an Unmanned Hexacopter as well as the adaptation and installation of guns on the Bell 412 Helicopters.
In the same spirit toward self-reliance, NAF technicians successfully reconfigured two demilitarised Alpha Jets in its inventory that were without weapon delivery capability into combat platforms.
It is clear that the DICON and the military services are working with other institutions to domestically design and fabricate military equipment. This drive is in line with the vision of President Buhari to develop “a modest” military industrial complex for our country.
Salisu Na’inna Dambatta,