From Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Nigerian Army, yesterday, said the hard lessons it learned on over reliance on foreign equipment and spares helped change the tide against the terrorists in the counter insurgency war in the North-East.
The Chief of Army Staff (CAS), Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, who made this known, said the army has recognised the changes in the dynamics of modern warfare which requires constant innovation, research and advancement in technology, and is prepared to develop local capacity for an enduring research and innovation process that would enhance its operations.
Butatai, who made this known at the first Nigeria Army Research and Innovation Summit with the theme: “Research and innovation, developing synergy with indigenous institutions for enhanced capacity in the Nigerian Army”, said, on assumption of the command of the Nigerian Army, he set in motion a deliberate programme for the immediate repair and refitting of all the abandoned and unserviceable weapons and equipment in the Nigerian Army inventory, using local resources.
“About 178 armored fighting vehicles of various types were completely refurbished by Nigerian Army electrical and mechanical engineers at our various workshops across the country.
“These weapons and equipment operated by well-trained, dedicated and motivated officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army turned the tide of operations in the North-East in our favour,” Buratai said.
He said the summit is expected to explore ways of building on existing efforts to meet Nigerian Army’s operational needs in the areas of equipment, logistics and administration in line with his vision for the army.
“Our experience in the Northeast and other theatres of operation has helped us draw useful lessons which have shaped the ongoing transformation process of the Nigerian Army, aimed at developing and sustaining the right combat power for professionally responsive force. We also learned hard lessons from over reliance on foreign equipment and spares which was a huge setback in the initial stages of our operations,” he said.
Also speaking, Minister for Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, who was also the special guest of honor, said the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari place importance on research and innovation “which are key to unlocking the door to future technological and economic growth.”
The minister said the Federal Government would establish a military industrial complex in Kaduna, which is aimed at promoting research and innovation in the defence sector.
“My ministry will also host a National Conference on Defence industrialization to attract local and international stakeholders to brainstorm and come up with a road map that will guide the successful take off of our military industrial complex which will be driven by research and technological innovations,” he said.
He also revealed that the ministry is working on partnership between Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) and some foreign original equipment manufacturers, with a view to launching a pilot production line of some fast moving arms/ammunition for the armed forces.
In his keynote address at the occasion, Minister for Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu said with the innovations in equipment manufacturing by the Nigerian Army, the nation will soon achieve self-sufficiency in weapons and ammunition, adding that “the army has no business begging to buy ammunition from developed countries while the same could be manufactured locally.”