(By Sani Idris, NAN)
The Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) and the National Metallurgical Development Centre (NMDC), Jos, on Tuesday in Kaduna, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to boost research and local production of military equipment.
The Director-General (D-G) of DICON, Maj-Gen Victor Ezugwu, said President Muhammadu Buhari’s Executive Order Five had tasked all the military departments and agencies in Nigeria to promote local content of military equipment.
Ezugwu added that by looking inward and tapping into the abundance of human and natural resources in Nigeria, DICON keyed into the Executive Order.
“We have visited NMDC and we have seen the capabilities in them toward helping us to achieve Mr President’s order. We spend so much on the importation of raw materials,” he said.
According to Ezugwu, the bottom line of the MoU is that it will give DICON the Nigerian version of all the raw materials which will help in spending less on importation.
“The MoU will make us offer more to our country and our resources will stay within the country,” he said.
Ezugwu said the cost per unit of the EZUGWU MRAP was N71 million and the imported version ranged from 250 million to N500 million.
“Using this as a basis going forward, you can see that because it is a local content product, it has reduced the cost. With N200 million, you can afford three of this with the multiplier effect.
“We have gone above 70 per cent local content in our production; with regards to human resources, it is 100 per cent local.
“Everything you see on MRAP is done by Nigerians except the engine, tyres and part of the suspension,” Ezugwu said.
Earlier, the Director-General and Chief Executive Officer of the NMDC, Prof Linus Asuquo, said Nigeria was now looking at indigenous materials for everything needed because it could not continue to be a consuming country.
“We need manufacturing in order to make progress and that is the purpose of our coming to DICON.
“We are very impressed with what we saw, using indigenous materials to achieve so much is a great achievement for our country,” he said.
Asuquo pledged that NMDC would do more on research and development to bring out indigenous materials for DICON so that they don’t continue depending on China or any other country.
“By doing so, it means there will be a lot of employment and revenue opportunities for the country.
“The time has come for us to move forward as we saw in the man in charge of DICON who has been able to do a lot in just one year,” he said.
He noted that the first thing was to engage in the exploration of minerals, mining and processing which was the key competence of his centre.
“We are processing the metal from the ore, we have discovered about 44 minerals in the country now,” he said.
He said there was the need for a change of orientation in Nigeria which, according to him, will drive the economy to a greater destination and opportunities for the upcoming generations.
“We should pay attention to research and development, we know of a country that budgeted 4.3 per cent of their GDP for research and development.
“With the over 44 mineral resources in Nigeria, there is the need for more budgetary allocation for research and development in order to improve indigenous production,” Asuquo said.