By Sumaila Ogbaje
Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari, has inaugurated the first set of combat and light vehicles manufactured at the Nigerian Army Command Engineering Depot in partnership with Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) in Kaduna.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the vehicles were unveiled at the opening of the 2019 Chief of Army Staff Annual Conference on Tuesday in Kaduna.
The theme of the conference is, “Application of the Cutting Edge of the Nigerian Army in Tackling Contemporary Security Challenges”.
The vehicles, which include five Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) nicknamed, ‘Ezugwu MRAP’ and a number of infantry patrol vehicles were manufactured by Nigerian army engineers and their indigenous partners.
While commending the innovative prowess of the army, Buhari said that it was encouraging to note that the army as a critical element of national power was in involved in innovative and inventive ventures.
He said that working for a sustainable and secured environment was a major priority for his administration.
The President commended the collaborative effort of the Command Engineering Depot with relevant indigenous organisations to promote local content towards the development of the military industrial complex.
“I am glad with the production of Ezugwu MRAP which I will unveil shortly with other infantry patrol vehicles that were earlier produced as testimony that our efforts are yielding positive results.
“There is no doubt that a lot has been achieved by the army since my assumption of office as the president and commander in chief of the Armed Forces,” he said.
Buhari said that his administration had continued to provide resources to enable the army carry out projects with the sole aim of modernising it and be better positioned to perform its constitutional roles.
The Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi (Rtd), said the government was aware of the needs of the army to be able to perform its constitutional roles effectively.
Magashi said that the conference was to appraise and evaluate the operational activities of the army during the years to enable them identify areas of improvement.
He assured that the government would continue to prioritise the welfare of the military personnel who have sacrificed their lives to defend the country.
Magashi commended the president for his commitment to enhancing the capacity of the armed forces.
Earlier, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, said that the vehicles were innovative and inventive products of Nigerian army’s research and development of its military industrial complex.
Buratai disclosed that the Ezugwu MRAP was an entirely indigenous production effort from start to finish by the team of Nigerian army engineers and their partners.
He said that the Ezugwu MRAP was versatile in the counter insurgency and other military operations in the country, adding that MRAP would pose great threat to adversaries.
According to him, the vehicles have been tested in the various theatre of operations against Boko Haram insurgents as well as Birnin Gwari area against bandits.
“We are delighted to showcase to Mr President our innovative and inventive products so far achieved through robust research and development efforts drives through building our own military industrial complex.
“We are indeed honoured and delighted to have you in our midst to unveil the Ezugwu MRAP which is an entirely indigenous production effort from start to finish.
“We are also delighted for the commissioning of the upgraded 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital.
“The hospital has been upgraded to the UN Ultramodern Level 4 hospital in Nigeria that will cater for the medical needs of our troops and other citizens alike.
“These two projects will no doubt save significant foreign exchange of the country which could be used for other developmental purposes,” he said.
NAN reports that President Buhari had inaugurated the newly upgraded 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital in Kaduna, which was expanded and equipped with modern facilities.