By Sumaila Ogbaje
The National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) says it is awaiting presidential intervention to mass produce guns and other weapons for the Nigerian Armed Forces.
The Executive Vice Chairman of NASENI, Prof. Muhammad Haruna, said this during a courtesy visit to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Faruk Yahaya at Army headquarters on Thursday in Abuja.
Haruna said that NASENI was currently collaborating with some indigenous research Institutions and industries, such as the Nigerian Machine Tools (NMT) Osogbo.
According to him, NASENI, NMT and Nigerian Army Corps of Engineers have jointly produced the 12.7mm AA Gun through reverse engineering.
“On the international scene, NASENI has identified some potential partners in the development and production of small arms and light weapons, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), Airboat, MRAPS, APCS and light aircraft.
“We are doing certain things already and this has Presidential Order and Institutional framework, to ensure this is well coordinated and presented.
“The Nigerian Army has seen what we have produced for them before, tested and commented.
“With the presidential directive that their requirement, as much as possible should come from the country, we are hopeful of a Presidential intervention to mass produce the guns for the Armed Forces,” he said.
Haruna said the agency and the army should revisit their discussions on local production of weapons and MRAPs.
He said this was necessary in view of the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari for the defence sector to look inward for its military equipment, components and accessories.
According to him, armed forces of other countries leverage on their institutions to produce what they need.
“The military complex across the globe is made up of so many parts and components that even come from civilian industries,” Haruna said.
The executive vice chairman assured that NASENI would help cover a lot of distance for the army in terms of military hardware.
“NASENI is also partnering with private sector, locally and internationally, to enhance capacity, so that the products that are coming out of this collaboration are of international standard,” he added.
In his remarks, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Faruk Yahaya expressed support for the collaboration with NASENI towards developing and producing military hardware in the country.
Yahaya said procuring weapons and equipment abroad usually took a lot of time to manufacture, ship and clear from the ports after arrival.
“If we are producing them ourselves, we can produce mission-specific equipment and weaponry that is suitable to our weather, environment and terrain.
“There is no alternative to local production because even with your money, not everything is for sale and sometimes, politics will come into it.
“Apart from that, it creates opportunity for employment, development and building technological capacity.
“So this is a step in the right direction, the process is on and we will support and encourage you.
“What we can do is to help you fast-track it as we are thinking of making our base in Bauchi for the Special Vehicle Plant, and also DICON in Kaduna,” he said. (NAN)