By Our Reporter
The Nigerian Army on Tuesday formalised agreement with the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON)/Command Engineering Depot on production of 28 Mines Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles for its counter terrorism/insurgency and other operations across the nation.
The agreement was signed by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Tukur Yusufu Buratai, represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans, ‘Army’, Lt-Gen Lamidi Adeosun, and the Director-General of DICON, Maj-Gen Victor Ezugwu, at the Army Headquarters, Abuja.
Buratai disclosed that the agreement would enable DICON/CED to roll out the vehicles within a specified period of time.
This act by the Nigerian Army under the dynamic and ingenious leadership of Lt-Gen TY Buratai is in line with the Federal Government of Nigeria local content policy, where the Army has since been working assiduously to locally manufacture/produce her basic requirements in the areas of lift capability, light weapons, Armoured Personnel Carrier and kitting.
According to him, “it was in furtherance of the government’s effort to reduce reliance on foreign countries to acquire the needed equipment for its operations towards addressing the prevailing security challenges across the country that this event is been executed today.
Buratai commended DICON for its commitment to developing local content and capacity of the home based engineers of the Nigerian Army to solve the nation’s security problems.”
He added that the initiative was to look inward through research and development to come up with what can be called indigenous MRAP vehicle.
“We are gathered here today to actualise one of the lofty dreams of the army in reducing challenges of having to rely on everything from outside Nigeria in terms of lethal equipment for Nigerian Army.
“Lethal requirement is one of the critical requirements that assist in professionally discharging our duties after good training.
“We have been relying solely in getting this critical equipment from outside.
“All of us are fully aware of the challenges that the Nigerian Army and Nigeria as a country has continued to face in all attempt to acquire all important military equipment for Nigerian armed forces particularly the army.
“We will go ahead to sign the agreement for the first ever locally produced MRAPs by the Nigerian Army in collaboration with DICON and Command Engineering Depot in phases of the contract agreement,’’ he said.
Responding, the Director-General of DICON, said that the first batch of the 10 MRAPs in production at its factory in Kaduna would be delivered in December, 2019.
He assured that the company had the capacity and the manpower to execute the agreement in line with the government’s plan to develop local content.
According to him, I want to assure you that we will meet the timeline for this contract and the first set of 10 of these vehicles will be ready by early December this year.
“The partnership has brought about the first indigenous MRAP vehicle and I want to thank the Chief of Army Staff for having confidence in us which ordinarily would have been mission impossible.
“The beautiful thing about what we are witnessing today is that we are doing both research and development and production of this vehicle together.
“That is why in less than a year, we have the prototype produced and we are going into the mass production phase with this contract signing.
“I want to assure the COAS that the standard that is contained in the characteristics of MRAP vehicle would be maintained.
“We have passed the phase of research and development, we are in full production,” he said.
Many senior army officers were in attendance during the historic event who include the Chief of Logistics (Army) Maj-Gen JI Unuigbe, Chief of Projects and Programmes, Maj-Gen MSA Aliyu, Corp Commander Ordnance, Maj-Gen OA Akintade, Director Legal Services, Maj Gen YI, Shalangwa and Commander Command Engineering Depot, Brig Gen SS Araoye.