‘Military Is Recruiting Young Nigerians To Innovate’

Major-General Ezugwu was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.


The Nigerian military is heavily investing in young Nigerians to build innovative solutions to the country’s national security challenges, the Director-General of the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), Major-General Victor Ezugwu, said on Monday.

Major-General Ezugwu was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

He said the investment was initiated by President Muhammdu Buhari’s decision to upscale the military’s ability to build its own technology. 

“The President ordered us to look into local content for developing strategies and equipment for military solutions to our national security challenges,” he said. “And DICOM is the hub of that solution to our national defence equipment production.”

On December 3, President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled Made-in-Nigeria Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles and Major-General Ezugwu noted that the production of the vehicles was mostly done by Nigerians.

“We are using local content up to 70 percent in the production of the armoured fighting vehicles that was recently commissioned by the President.

“And we have gathered some Nigerians who I know are blessed with a lot of human resources. We have gathered engineers. All of them are Nigerians, no foreign advisers or consultant that produced the Ezegwu MRAPs that Mr President has commissioned. The oldest among them is 31 years old.”

DICON has produced ten MRAP units for the army and have signed a contract to produce another 28 units. 

“We still need a kind of production line that will enable us to increase the number we can churn out within a given amount of time. The Minister of Defence is helping us with that.”

According to the Major-General, the ten MRAPs were produced within a period of seven months. “We outsourced some parts to our collaborators,” he said. “The Chief of Army Staff has said his joy will be when we reduce foreign content to 10 percent. 

Major-General Ezugwu added that DICON was also looking to solve other technical challenges for the military.

“Apart from the MRAP, we have looked into the problems in the north-east and we have begun to address the issues. We have developed a mines-sweeper and mines-roller that is going to address the issues of landmines. We are producing ballistics and helmet for the military and other equipment, all locally.”


Saving Foreign Exchange

Major-General Ezugwu said the focus on local innovation is already saving the country some foreign exchange.

“We are saving a lot of money that would have been used by contractors to import these things abroad,” he said.

“The MRAP we produce here locally is about a unit cost of N70m; those we import from abroad cost us in the neighborhood of between $500,000 to $1,000,000. So we are trying to reduce capital flight in Nigeria. 

“We need homegrown solutions for our problems. Let us, DICON and Command Engineering Depot in Kaduna, which is a Nigerian army establishment, to go into production of these MRAPs. We looked at all other MRAPs that other countries in Europe have produced, so we now designed one that can address the terrain in the north-east. Because when you get a MRAP from abroad, the issue of our weather and environment may not be so much captured in production.”


A Starting Point

The Major-General went on to stress that the MRAP production was a starting point.

“In the next five years, if this feat is sustained, I can assure you that we might not have any need to import any vehicle into this country for military purposes.”

Although DICON has been in existence since the 1960s, the Major-General noted that its operation is being ramped up by the current administration. 

“This is the time that we have a strategic leader who thinks ahead, who is desirous to ensure that Nigeria’s defence capacities are enhanced. Also, I must thank the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, for having the courage to assist the DICON and Command Engineering Depot to achieve this project.

“The funding of the (MRAP) project, which is valued at well over a billion naira was drawn from the support of the army’s headquarters. 

“The fact that we have not made an inroad into defence production in the past is because the environment, the strategic guidance, was not actually there. But now we have leaders both at the military and political levels that support defence industry production. And that is why things are going the way they are going.”

Tinubu Asks Obasanjo To Join Retirees Club

Tinubu A Shining Star In Nigeria's Political Firmament - Ajimobi
file photo: APC National Leader, Bola Tinubu

A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Tinubu has advised former president Olusegun Obasanjo to join the retirees club and collect his pension.

His comments were in reaction to Obasanjo’s special statement in which he advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to re-contest for office in 2019.

“I don’t address those shadows. We should let our former presidents join retirees’ club and take pensions but they can participate in our politics if they are interested. It is a free world but this freedom is not served a la carte but they should allow us to move our country forward. It is a challenge to every Nigerian.”

Tinubu said this on Tuesday while addressing journalists after a meeting with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

He was accompanied by Chief Bisi Akande.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu along with Bisi Akande, visit President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa.

Tinubu also expressed confidence that the APC will win the 2019 election in a transparent manner.

Last week, he was appointed as the Chairman of the Party’s reconciliation committee, a development that members of the party believe is the last attempt to save it from getting into a crisis.

Though some have said he has limited time to do so, there are high hopes that he will “perform the magic” of reuniting aggrieved party members, hence redeeming the party’s eligibility in the 2019 elections.

Shehu Sani Suggests Options To Rescue Chibok Girls

Shehu Sani on Chibok girlsSenator Shehu Sani has advised the Federal government to explore the option of negotiation and the use of force to rescue the missing Chibok girls.

This is coming two years after the Boko Haram militants kidnapped some school girls in the Chibok community of Borno State in northeast Nigeria.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Thursday said that, as a parent and leader of the country, he understood the torment, frustration and anxiety of the parents and would not spare any effort to ensure the safe return of the girls.

Negotiation And Use Of Force
Giving his opinion on Sunrise Daily, Senator Sani recommended three options that the Federal government could explore to ensure the safe return of the missing girls.

“First of all is to explore the negotiation option which is dialogue, and secondly is to continue to use force hoping that we can raid the camp and rescue the girls from the insurgents.

“The third aspect is to use force and still open the door for negotiation, which is the one which I prefer because the use of force (the military option) is still a clear message to the insurgents that they cannot win the military,” he said.

The lawmaker, however, highlighted the fact that the girls were on the terrorists’ camp as hostages and cautioned that “attempt to use force to rescue them naturally comes with consequences”.

He maintained that the available option was to continue to explore all options that would make it possible to get the missing girls back home safe and alive.

Chibok Girls: Still Missing Two Years After

Chibok girlsToday, Thursday, April 14, 2016, marks the second year since the Chibok girls were abducted by Boko Haram insurgents causing international outrage against Boko Haram as well as the Federal Government.

Many protesters all over the world demanded greater government actions over the rescue of the girls and security of lives and property.

The terrorists were said to have broken into the school pretending to be guards, telling the girls to come with them, when the girls came out, they burnt their dormitory and took a large number of the girls away in a truck to an unknown destination.

Initial reports claimed 85 girls had been kidnapped. The military authorities issued a statement that 100 of 129 missing girls had been freed, but there were conflicting reports about the figures.

While the Nigerian military said 129, the parents claimed 234 and the Nigerian Police approximated the figure to be around 276.

Concerned citizens cried out that Nigerian authorities failed to provide protection for the girls, even when Boko Haram had warned of an impending attack.

The Nigerian Police said they were still unclear about the exact number of students abducted and called on parents to provide pictures to identify their missing children.

The mix up over the figures of the missing girls drew the anger of civil society organizations and led to the setting up of a committee by the Goodluck Jonathan administration to get to the root of the whereabouts of the girls and to look into their rescue.

Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, claimed responsibility for the kidnap, releasing pictures of 130 girls in hijab and challenging the government that he will marry the girls out to unknown destinations.

That drew reactions from within and outside the country prompting several petitions poured in from concerned citizens who pressured the government to act.

A group of diverse citizens started a sit out on March 30, 2014, at the Unity Founding, Abuja, advocating for the speedy and effective search and rescue of the girls.

They marched to the National Assembly defying the rains, demanding for one thing; that the abducted girls be brought back.

They also tried to enter the Presidential Villa to pressure the government to do something, but were severally resisted. All they got was a ministerial delegation.

Nigeria’s former First Lady at that time, Patience Jonathan, set up her own type of investigation in an effort to unravel the situation around the kidnapping. She was, however, overtaken by emotions.

Days passed, followed by weeks and then months and now years. The international community joined in condemnation of the abduction of the Chibok girls.

The #BringBackOurGirls became the most popular in the world on social media with everyone urging the Federal Government to Bring Back Our Girls.

Elections came and gone with the girls in captivity. The batons changed. A new government came into power in Aso Rock and with their hashtag, the Oby Ezekwesili group got what they could not get in the past administration – a meeting with the President right in the Presidential Villa with hope rising promises to rescue the girls.

That promise is yet to be fulfilled as the Chibok girls are still in captivity.

Nigerians and the international community are waiting to see a fulfilment of the promise by the Muhammadu Buhari-led government that they cannot claim to have defeated Boko Haram without rescuing the Chibok girls and other innocent persons held hostage by the insurgents.

President Buhari, Liberia’s Johnson Sirleaf Discuss Regional Security

Johnson-Ellen-Sirleaf-Muhmmadu-BuhariNigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari and the Liberian President, Ms Johnson Ellen Sirleaf, held talks on Tuesday that centred on regional Security and improved relations between both nations. 

The Nigerian leader once more brought to the fore what he called the hunger and starvation ravaging Northeast Nigeria following the Boko Haram insurgency, stressing the need to end terrorists activities in the region for food security.

After talks, the Liberian President told reporters that she was in Nigeria to thank President Buhari for the support her country received from Nigeria, following the Ebola disease outbreak.

She said that she came to also renew the strong bond of relationship between Nigeria and Liberia.

The President of Liberia, Johnson Ellen Sirleaf said Nigeria and Liberia would become stronger with greater ties

“I came to talk about the joint commission that has been formulated and how we can make it a more effective instrument for improving relation – trade relation, investment relation, international relation – and to continue to see Liberia and Nigeria as strong friends,”the Liberian leader said.

Madam Sirleaf expressed gratitude to Nigeria in the setting up of the Liberian Army and called for the renewal of the bond between Nigeria and Liberia under President Muhammdu Buhari.

President Buhari was impressed with the progress made so far in Liberia. He expressed hopes that West African countries would ensure peaceful elections coming up in some countries in the subregion.

He asked the international community to continue to support him to restore peace in the northeast being ravaged by starvation brought about by Boko Haram.

“How do we stop the sub-regional terrorists infiltration and attacks. The Lake Chad Basin Commission, comprising of Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Benin have to work with other from other parts of Africa and the ECOWAS to make sure that we stop the spate of terrorism, the effect of which you know that in the northeast, for the last two planting season, they have not planted, much less harvest.

President Muhammadu Buhari is hopeful that an end of Boko Haram activities in the northeast will ensure food security

“So there is starvation. You need to see the several millions of Nigerians in Internally Displaced Persons camp. We went over all these things that affect most of us in our region and the continent,” President Buhari said, listing areas that discussions with the Liberian leader had focused.

The two leaders pledged to continue to do their best to ensure that their economies get back on track.