From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that Nigeria’s current security challenges and emerging threats require the country’s military and other relevant stakeholders to be several steps ahead of perpetrators while also stepping up local production of armaments.
He said this after receiving a presentation on “Defence Transformation and National Security: Strategic Options for Nigeria of the Future”, by the National Defence College Course 30 participants, late Wednesday during a virtual interaction.
According to a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity
Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, Osinbajo said: “If you look at the challenges that we are facing and the nature of those challenges, it is evident that we need to be many steps ahead of non-state actors in particular who are perpetrators of this asymmetric warfare that we are experiencing.”
He added that “it is clear that given current realities in our security situation, there is absolutely every need for us to fast-forward all our plans for the future so that we can be much more effective in dealing with the current threats and the threats that we will experience as we go into the future.
“One of the most critical areas is the question of local production of military hardware and I think it is low-hanging fruit when it comes to manufacturing some of the hardware that we will need. I think that there is a need, especially now to really look very closely at local production of our hardware, beginning with armament.”
The VP who made a case for improved investment in Defence Industries Corporation (DICON), noted that “every country of the world takes advantage (in my view) of the crisis situation that it faces.”
According to him, “we mentioned India, Brazil, and even the more developed economies of the world, during the first world war, the second world war, it was these challenges that led to the development of their military-industrial complexes. We have a challenge today, there are so many zones where there are conflicts. Our law enforcement is spread out everywhere.”
Commending the course participants for their efforts in proposing innovations in the defence sector, Prof Osinbajo emphasized the urgency of the local production of arms.
“If we say the local companies should produce some of the mobile platforms like Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) and Multi-Role Armoured Vehicle (MRAV), if we give them the contracts, they will produce, but if we choose to import rather than produce locally then we will never develop our military-industrial complex.”
Osinbajo also spoke about the need for transparency in the management of resources meant for the acquisition of hardware for the defence and security agencies.
“There needs to be more accountability because every time you hear about ‘we not having enough equipment,’ but there must be accountability. I will like to see a framework for greater accountability within the Ministry of Defence that ensures that they are able to account for military expenditure,” he said.
Earlier in a presentation on behalf of the Course 30 participants, Col. A. A. Adamu proposed, among other things, the restructuring of the Ministry of Defence to reflect contemporary challenges as well as contain emerging threats to defence and security.
He also highlighted enhancing Nigeria’s defence production capacity, leveraging technology and improving collaboration within and across Africa as determining factors for the effective transformation of Nigeria’s defence and security sector.
Other officials present at the event included the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo; the Commandant of the National Defence College, Rear Adm Murtala Bashir, and representative of the Inspector General of Police, among other senior officers from the college.
Research report presentation by course participants to the vice president is a prominent feature in the annual academic calendar of the National Defence College. Every year since 2016, participants of the college have presented reports of research conducted in key areas to the vice president.
In 2019, Course 27 participants presented a paper on “Water Resource Management and Regional Security: Lake Chad in perspective”; in 2020, Course 28 presented a paper on “Border Management & National Development, in Nigeria: The ECOWAS Protocol Relating to Free Movement of Persons, Residence & Establishment in Perspective”, while Course 29’s paper, in 2021 was titled “Creating Jobs & Opportunities for Africa’s Largest Youth Population”.