Over reliance on foreign equipment and spares by the Nigerian Army was a huge setback to the fight against insurgency in the North East. The Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai stated this in his welcoming address on Monday at the first Nigerian Army Research and Innovation Summit in Abuja.
He further stated that warfare is becoming increasingly complex due to changes in the nature of threats and advancement in technology. The Chief of Army Staff said the Nigerian Army recongnizes these changes and seeks to develop local capacity for an enduring research and innovation process that will enhance its operations. “Our experiences in the North East and other theatres of operations has helped us drew useful lessons which have shaped the ongoing transformation process of the Nigerian Army aimed at developing and sustaining the right combat power for a professionally responsive force. We also learnt the hard lessons of over reliance on foreign equipment and spares which was a huge setback in the initial stages of our operations” Buratai said.
He added that about 178 Armoured fighting vehicles of various types were completely refurbished by the Nigerian Army Electrical and Mechanical Engineers at various Nigerian Army Workshops across the country through a deliberate programme initiated on his assumption office in July 2015 for the repairs and refitting of all abandoned and unserviceable weapons and equipment in the Nigerian Army inventory using local resources. “These were the weapons and equipment operated by well trained, dedicated and motivated officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army that turned the tide of operations in the North East in our favour” Buratai added.
The Chief of Army Staff said he also charged all Nigerian Army corps and formations to intensify research and innovation effort toward developing the right weapons, platforms and equipment needed to solve identified battle field problems. He said some of the results of these efforts have been extensively applied in the field and they are yielding positive result.
Buratai express gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for his exemplary and inspiring leadership, support and motivation to the Nigerian Army. “The successes so far recorded in our operations and indeed in our research and innovation programme can only be attributed to the belief of this administration on the ability of Nigerians to produce their own needs given the right incentives” he said.
In his keynote address, the special guest of honour Minister of Defence Mohammed Mansur Dan-Ali commended the Nigerian Army for responsively keying into the current government policy as it concerns research, innovation and politically stable Nation with a view to enhance its combat efficiency.
He said innovation is the key to unlocking the doors to future technological and economic growth. “Innovation is also a major component of military technology as a critical aspect in national development” Dan-Ali said.
The minister also disclosed that the Federal Government through public private partnership is establishing a Military Industrial Complex in Kaduna. He said the project is aimed at promoting research and innovation in the defence sector.
He added that his ministry will also host a National Conference on Defence industrialization in Nigeria to attract local and international stakeholders to brainstorm and come up with a road map that will guide successful take up of the Military Industrial Complex.