Funding constraints, diplomatic and other international bureaucratic bottlenecks have been attributed to Nigeria’s inability to acquire enough and modern military hardware for the armed forces in the fight against banditry, kidnapping and other security breaches in the country.
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. General Farouk Yahaya, disclosed this in a message to the Nigerian Army Research and Development Conference which opened in Minna, the Niger State capital, on Wednesday.
Yahaya, who was represented by the Commander, Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) of the Nigerian Army, Major General Stevenson Olugbenga Olabanji, said if the country is to be technologically self-reliant in military hardware acquisition, it must begin to look inwards.
“If we must be technologically self-reliant as a nation, it is imperative that we change our approach and begin to look inwards through a more valuable and rewarding research development
“It is worthy to note that a technologically empowered nation is a research and development-based nation,” Yahaya said, while emphasising the need for the intensification of efforts towards meaningful research and development in the Nigerian Army, the defence sector and the nation in general.
The COAS said the conference was organised to allow for a more enriched theoretical approach to the search for technological innovations in collaboration with relevant military and civil research agencies.
Yahaya reiterated the commitment of the Nigerian Army to collaborate with renowned researched-based institutions towards realizing the objective of producing the required military hardware, pointing out that the collaboration are already yielding the required dividends.
The Army Chief said the engagement with the Defence Industries Corporation (DIC) and the Command Engineering Depot has led to the development of hardware such as ‘EZUGWU’ and Conqueror MRAPS, the DSHK (Dashka) anti-gun as well as the Rocket Propelled Grenade -7.
“Following these landmark achievements, I can further assure you that the Nigerian Army is also willing to partner with our own local manufacturing industries towards these items,” he said, adding that: “This initiative will not only make the country self-reliant but will also enable it to save scarce foreign exchange that could be channelled to other sectors of the economy in line with the Federal Governments Economic Recovery Growth Plan.”
Yahaya expressed gratitude to the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, who, he said, has demonstrated tremendous leadership and unflinching support for the Nigerian Army.
“We affirm our unalloyed loyalty and commitment to defending our great country and nascent democracy,” he said.
The three-day conference has as its theme: “Enhancing NA Joint Operational Effectiveness Through Research and Development.”