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Defense Industry

Nigeria is a significant actor both as a producer and consumer of weapons. Nigeria's fledgling domestic defense industry was the second distinctive source of military materiel, particularly for small arms, ammunition, and maintenance and repair services.

In addition to the small arms and ammunition factories at Kaduna, newer facilities for the assembly of armored fighting vehicles and light tanks were under development at Bauchi in 1990. Aus- trian Steyr 680M 4x4 tactical military trucks were reportedly as- sembled there, and it was also planned to produce Pinzgauer light tracked armored vehicles and Steyr 4K 7 FA tracked armored personnel carriers. By 1987 the DIC employed 2,000 to 3,000 people at its Kaduna and Bauchi plants.

Indications of a nascent commercial defense industry included a manufacturer in Anambra State whose inexpensive jeeps included military models being tested by the army; a local service industry to supply uniforms, accoutre- ments, and selected ordnance materiel; and increased domestic sourcing for aircraft and naval ship components and maintenance services. Local assembly of West German MBB Bo- 105 helicop- ters for the air force was also contemplated. Further progress hinged on the availability of foreign capital and technology, joint ventures, and export opportunities, especially for rifles and ammunition.

On its silver anniversary April 22, 1989, the air force unveiled and conducted a test flight of a prototype of Nigeria ' s first domes- tically built aircraft, the Air Beetle. Jointly built over two years by the NAF and a West German Kaduna-based firm from the de- sign of the United States Van RV-6 sport aircraft, the Air Beetle had the unique feature of being able to fly on standard automobile fuel. This two- seat, single engine airplane was intended to be the primary trainer for the NAF, replacing the aging British Bulldog trainers. The production program called for sixty units by 1992 and eventual development of an improved version, the Super Air Beetle. In early 1990, the first export orders were reported, and forty aircraft of the first production run were scheduled for delivery to foreign customers.

Under a national aircraft maintenance policy approved in 1987, depots were being set up around the country with the aim of achieving complete overhaul capability for all civil and military aircraft. In July 1988, a task force to implement the national aircraft maintenance center was inaugurated. The center was to be a civilian organization with the capability to service, maintain, and overhaul military aircraft and components. In 1989 the air force was directed to indigenize 50 percent of its maintenance work within ten years.

The manufacture of such basic aircraft components and spare parts as hydraulic units and actuators, brakes, and plastic passenger cabin parts had also begun by the late 1980s. These domestic production and technical service industries were intended to save foreign exchange, to foster self-reliance, and to promote a local technological and industrial base.

The navy also turned increasingly to local suppliers for spare parts and maintenance services. In mid-1989 about 40 percent of the spare parts for naval vessels reportedly had been produced in Nigeria, and the navy saved N20 million at that time by using locally made parts, including propeller shafts and generator parts. The new navy dockyard, opened at the end of 1990 at Victoria Island near Lagos, will even- tually have the capacity to boost domestic production of spare parts for ships to 70 percent of requirements and to permit future modification and even construction of ships.

Press reports indicated South African and Russian arms manufacturers visited Nigeria in early 2001 to tender proposals to rehabilitate and expand Nigerias Defense Industries Corporation (DICON). Press reports also suggested an eagerness to acquire arms that may have involved at least one unorthodox and politically suspect arms transaction. Nigerian police, in late May 2001, seized a shipment of weapons at the port of Apapa that allegedly originated in Pakistan and were purchased, with the assistance of unnamed Indian agents, by several retired Nigerian generals with links to the late General Abacha.

Nigeria's overdependence on military equipment from abroad is "unacceptable," according to president Buhari. The army has long complained that the lack of weapons is harming their fight against Boko Haram Islamists. Buhari urged officials and industry leaders to "re-engineer" the Defense Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), which was set up in 1964. At present, DICON is used mainly for tool-making and other civilian purposes.

Buhari visited the US in July 2015, and urged American lawmakers to send more weapons. However, the arms deliveries from the US are limited by the Leahy Law, which prohibits sales to armies suspected of human rights abuses. The Conference of Nigerian Political Parties has applauded the United States Government over its plan to lift the current arms embargo placed on Nigeria. A US delegation to Nigeria led by the head of the Congress Committee on Judiciary, Darrel Issa, had hinted that it would review the Leahy Act that would ensure the lifting of arms embargo placed on Nigeria.

But Issa said Nigeria's military is not outgunned by Boko Haram and needs training, not arms, to defeat the insurgents. Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh, the recently retired Chief of Defence Staff, in his valedictory speech of 31 July 2015 that he, as the nation's number one soldier, presided over a military "that lacked the relevant equipment and motivation to fight". The Army had decided to court-martial over a hundred officers and men of the army for insubordination, cowardice, and desertion when they had only insisted on being properly armed for war.

Badeh said "Over the years, the military was neglected and under-equipped to ensure the survival of certain regimes, while other regimes... deliberately reduced the size of the military and underfunded it."

President Buhari initiated moves for the production of weapons in Nigeria. According to a statement released on 07 August 2015 by Senior Special Adviser to the president on media and publicity Garba Shehu, President Buhari charged the Federal Ministry of Defence to produce a plan for the establishment of a modest Military Industrial Complex for the local production of weapons to meet some of the requirements of the countrys armed forces.

President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on 07 August 2015 directed the Federal Ministry of Defence to produce a plan for the establishment of a modest Military Industrial Complex for the local production of weapons to meet some of the requirements of the countrys armed forces.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony of the National Defence College, President Buhari described as unacceptable, Nigerias current over-dependence on other countries for critical military equipment and logistics. We must evolve viable mechanisms for near-self-sufficiency in military equipment and logistics production complemented only by very advanced foreign technologies. The Ministry of Defence is being tasked to draw up clear and measurable outlines for development of a modest Military Industrial Complex for Nigeria. In this regard, it is to liaise with other strategic MDAs and industries to re-engineer the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) to meet national military hardware and logistics requirements, the President said.

President Buhari told the gathering that his administration had, since its assumption of office, reviewed the nature and character of Nigerias security threats and challenges. We recognized first and foremost, the external dimensions of these threats and the need for international cooperation and common security mechanisms to tackle them, the President said.

President Buhari added that in the light of this realization, his Administration was convinced that the best approach was to work within the framework of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) to mobilize a collective regional effort in the fight against terrorism and insurgency. The President urged the graduates and officers and men of the Armed Forces to work harder to win the war against Boko Haram, terrorism and insurgency.

We must apply a comprehensive strategy and coordinate all elements of national power against terrorism and insurgency; we must show result oriented leadership at all levels of military Command; we must set up an optimal organization to manage and sustain operational performance; and we must show confidence and winning mentality, President Buhari told them.

The President assured that the Federal Government under his leadership will strive to meet the operational, logistic, training and welfare requirements of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. President Buhari said that the National Defence College had fulfilled the vision of its founding fathers, by becoming a strategic human capacity-building institution, making credible contributions to Nigeria and other friendly countries. The President urged graduates of the Colleges Course 23 to resolve to make a marked difference in your future deployments and contribute your quota to the evolution and implementation of national security, defence and military strategies.



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