By Sumaila Ogbaje/Husseina Yakubu
Kaduna – Gov. Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has called for more support for Nigerian Army’s innovation in order to reduce reliance on importation of military hardware.
El-Rufai made the call in an interview with newsmen at the closing of the 2019 Chief of Army Staff Annual Conference on Friday in Kaduna.
He said the kind of tools and equipment that the Nigerian army units had produced was encouraging, adding that it would boost the defence capability of Nigerian armed forces.
The governor however urged state governments to consider patronising the defence industry for security equipment, saying that the vehicles were produced in line with the nature of Nigerian environment.
According to him, we must continue to pray for our Nigerian army, continue to support them, give them the resources so that they develop solutions to our problems locally.
“There is no point exporting our jobs to Toyota in Japan when we can keep the jobs here.
“My call to my colleagues in government is to look at the range of products coming out of these factories and innovation centres of the Nigerian army and we buy from them.
“It is the only way we can give them the resources to be able to develop and improve.
“Yes, these products may not be perfect today, they are not as good as Toyota but they are ours and if we buy them and improve them, in five years they will be better than Toyota because they are adapted to our environment.
“I call on not only governors but all Nigerians to support this local initiative and this home grown innovation and technological progress must be supported with everything we have,” he said.
El-Rufai also urged the government to encourage all other security agencies to look inward for their equipment, adding that most of the imported equipment does not fit into Nigerian environment.
He lauded the Nigerian army for tapping from the potentials of its officers to provide solution to the nation’s security challenges based on their experiences on the field.
According to him, these innovations and these things that they are doing is entirely based on the resources we have in Nigeria thereby saving us foreign exchange.
“With continuous improvement, I foresee that if we continue in this trajectory, in the next ten years, the Nigerian army will not be importing most of its ordnance equipment.
“These are small steps but very important toward self sufficiency.
“I have seen things produced by the recruits being trained at the Depot Nigerian Army in Zaria.
“The depot has been there forever but it is only now that we are beginning to see products coming of Nigerian depot for the use of Nigerian soldiers.
“These vehicles that are being produced here are a flagship of the cost of the imported vehicles.
“The imported vehicles are not even acclimatised to our environment because they do not work effectively in our environment.
“Those like Maj.-Gen. Victor Ezugwu that were in the North East and have seen the challenges have come back home to develop solutions that fit our environment at a fraction of the cost,” he said.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the governor, after declaring the conference closed, inspected the various equipment such as Ezuwu MRAPs, infant patrol vehicles, mobile field kitchen, mobile bakery among others.
The conference which has the theme, “the Application of Cutting Edge of the Nigerian Army in Tackling Contemporary Security Challenges” was opened by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday.