The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, on Saturday stressed the need to reposition the Nigerian Armed Forces, particularly the army, toward self-sufficiency in local production of military hardware.
Buratai said that with self-sufficiency in local production of weaponry, the armed forces would be able to confront and overcome internal and external asymmetry security challenges facing the nation.
He spoken when he inaugurated Light Armoured-Fighting vehicles and other equipment refurbished by the newly-established Nigerian Army Vehicle Manufacturing Company (NAVMC), Rigachuku, Kaduna State.
Thirty-five Toyota Buffalo, eight armoured fighting vehicles, 10 assorted heavy duty generators, 10 troops-carrying trucks, water tankers and mobile workshops were among the equipment inaugurated.
Buratai said in the last week, three of the refurbished vehicles had been inducted into Operation Lafiya Dole operations in the North-East.
He expressed delight that within six weeks of the establishment of the company, it had met its mandate.
The NAVMC was set up on Nov. 16, 2018.
Buratai explained that the army suffered “limited setbacks’’ in the ongoing counter-terrorism operations in the North-East, partly due to “ineffectiveness of armoured-fighting vehicles’’ and other equipment bought from foreign countries.
According to him, most of this imported equipment do not fit the tropical weather in our clime.
He said that other challenges experienced with those vehicles and equipment were inadequate spare parts, faulty weapon systems, poor after-sales maintenance agreement and lack of warranty, among others.
“For the armed forces to overcome the nation’s internal and external asymmetry security challenges, there is need to begin 360 degrees deviation from over-reliance on importation of all classes of tactical and heavy operational vehicles.’’
He said that in spite of past efforts, “the fact remains that a lot still needs to be done to record an appreciable self-reliance in the production of instrument of war’’.
The army chief noted that most developed armies across the globe attained industrial military supremacy after wars, conflicts and crises.
He said: “The rise of the United States as global hegemony which began after the American war of independence and their current strategic position in world nuclear affairs is of course, instructive.
“Back home, Nigeria emerged from its civil war to become a continental power, following massive military build-up by successive governments.
“The leading role Nigeria play in ECOMOG operations in Liberia, and later in Sierra Leone, attests to this fact.’’
He said that the overall objective of NAVMC was to meet the army’s vehicle and equipment needs by 2025 and begin to export to other African countries by 2030.
Earlier, the Managing Director of NAVMC, Maj.-Gen. Victor Ezugwu, said that the company had produced 50 light combat vehicles in the last two months.
Ezugwu, who had served in as Acting General Officer Commanding (GOC), 7 Division, Maiduguri, stressed the need for viable indigenous options for mobility and protection of troops.