President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday unveiled the first locally-made Mine-resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles named Ezugwu and other armoured vehicles designed to conduct insertion and extraction of troops, assault, counter-terrorism, delivery of high fire-power and urban warfare.
The president launched the vehicles in Kaduna, yesterday, at the Chief of Army Staff Annual Conference.
Other primary and secondary armaments unveiled at the event were anti-aircraft guns that can carry a crew of 12 commanders, driver, two gunners and eight soldiers.
In his address at the event, Buhari said that “These armoured vehicles that were produced by DICON are testimonies that government’s effort is yielding positive results. It is encouraging to note that the Nigerian Army as a critical element of national power is involved in innovative and inventive ventures to become an Army to be proud of in the future by all Nigerians.
“There is no doubt that a lot has been achieved by the Army since my assumption of office. Our administration has continued to provide resources for the execution of transformational projects with the aim of modernising the Army to be better positioned to perform its constitutional roles,“ he said.
Buhari noted the collaborative efforts of the command’s Engineering Depot with relevant indigenous organisations to promote local content towards developing Nigeria’s Military Industrial Complex.
“In this regard, it is pertinent to acknowledge the establishment of the Army University, Biu, the Army Resource Centre in the Army War College to further boost intellectual capacities in the forces,“ he said.
The president lauded the Nigerian Army for the establishment of Army Cyber Warfare Command, Fifty Space Command and the Land Forces Segregation Centre.
He said that they were aimed at repositioning the Army to address emerging and future threats to national security.
Buhari described the conference as an avenue for strategic leaders and operational commanders to appraise and evaluate the Army’s activities for the year 2019 as well as make projections for improved engagements in 2020 and beyond.
“This kind of self-assessment is being sustained because it is critical for the professional development of the Nigerian Army. One of the cardinal pillars of our government is the provision of security,” he stressed.
The president further appreciated men and officers of the Nigerian Army for their relentless efforts in securing the country, noting that “many personnel have lost their lives, some have sustained injuries and a significant number have been away from their families for a long time.“
Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, in his goodwill message, said that the state was privileged to host many military formations which bring various benefits to the people.
“We are proud of the leadership of the Nigerian Army. Here in Kaduna, we cannot forget the role the Army plays in promoting peace and security across the state in the last four years.“
He said that the Army had helped to restore peace and stability in Southern Kaduna by establishing an operational base, adding that “we appreciate the initiative, innovative and investments undertaken by the Army, which by extension, benefit our people.“
el-Rufai said that the assembling of automotive vehicles for the Army in Kaduna, in addition to the presence Peugeot Automobile Assembly (PAN) plant was a blessing to the state.
“DICON is also starting garment production for the armed forces and para-military agencies. We are establishing a cluster garmenting that will produce not only military and para-military uniforms, but also civilian clothing for the domestic and export market.
“We are going to take advantage of that and we are very grateful to the Army for being that catalyst for development,” el-Rufai said.