CSOs kick off as feds set to relaunch defense business

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Civil society organizations (CSOs) across the country have opposed the federal government’s plan to start local arms production, alleging it is a ploy to embezzle money.

CSOs have questioned why the same government that abandoned the Defense Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) for the past seven years has suddenly woken up less than a year after its fall.

They said this following Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s statement that Nigeria’s current security challenges and emerging threats demand that the country’s military and other relevant stakeholders be several steps ahead of the perpetrators. while intensifying the local production of armaments.

The Vice President who spoke on Wednesday evening after receiving a presentation on “Defence Transformation and National Security: Strategic Options for the Nigeria of the Future” by the 30 participants of the National Defense College course during the virtual interaction made the case for improved investment in the Defense Industries Corporation (DICON).

DICON, the Public Defense Company of Nigeria, is operated by the Nigerian Armed Forces.

Established in 1964, DICON, which is responsible for the production of defense equipment and civilian products, has suffered from insufficient funding and neglect over the years.

But speaking to LEADERSHIP Friday on the federal government’s plans to produce weapons locally, the CSOs vowed not to allow members of government to take public funds in the name of producing weapons locally.

The CSOs who spoke to our correspondent are Transparency International (TI), the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC) and the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG).

Speaking through their leader, Awwal Musa Rafsanjani, the CSOs said that with growing insecurity, Nigerians are discouraged by every action of the government, adding that planned local arms production should be suspended until until the next government takes over.

Rafsanjani said, “Well, the government has no direction and no direction, otherwise Nigeria has invested a lot of money in making weapons.

“Kaduna Weapons Equipment Manufacturing has been killed and in the seven years that the government has come in, they have failed to revitalize the arms manufacturing business.

“The government has no objective and someone now wants to use it to get money and for you to start revitalizing and making the arms industry productive, it will take a few years.

“We don’t want members of government taking funds in the name of local arms production because the arms won’t be ready and the money can just be taken without accountability.”

Laying the groundwork for their opposition to local arms production, CSOs said the government had no subsidies or budget provision because it had no intention of producing arms locally.

Rafsanjani said: “The government has not made any budget allocation and this is not part of its program. We think they should have planned on paper and left it to the next government to execute because we don’t want anyone stealing money in the name of local arms production by people desperate for help. ‘silver.

“This government must minimize reckless spending and opportunities for looting and embezzlement of public funds in the name of arms production.

Meanwhile, Vice President Osinbajo had pleaded for improved investment in the Defense Industries Corporation (DICON), noting that “every country in the world benefits (in my opinion) from the crisis situation it faces.”

A statement from his media assistant, Laolu Akande, quoted Vice President Osinbajo as saying, “You look at the challenges we are facing and the nature of those challenges, it is obvious that we have to be many steps ahead of non-state actors. in particular who are the authors of this asymmetrical war that we are living.

“It is clear that given the current realities of our security situation, it is absolutely necessary that we quickly move forward with all of our plans for the future so that we can be much more effective in dealing with current threats and threats we will make.” experience as we go into the future.

“One of the most critical areas is the issue of local production of military hardware and I think that’s a low hanging fruit when it comes to making some of the hardware that we will need. I think that we must, especially now, look very closely at the local production of our equipment, starting with weapons.

“We mentioned India, Brazil and even the most developed economies in the world, during the first world war, the second world war, it was these challenges that led to the development of their military-industrial complexes. We have a challenge today, there are so many areas where there are conflicts. Our law enforcement is spread all over the place.

Congratulating the course participants for their efforts in proposing innovations in the defense sector, Osinbajo stressed the urgency of local production of weapons.

He said: “If we say that local companies should produce some of the mobile platforms such as armored personnel carriers (APCs) and armored multi-role vehicles (MRAVs), if we give them the contracts, they will produce, but if we choose to import rather than produce locally, we will never develop our military-industrial complex.

The Vice-President also underlined the need for transparency in the management of resources intended for the acquisition of equipment for defense and security agencies.

He said: “There needs to be more accountability because every time you hear ‘we don’t have enough equipment’, but there needs to be accountability. I would like to see a framework for greater accountability within the Department of Defense that ensures it is able to account for military spending.”

Earlier in a presentation on behalf of the 30 course participants, Colonel AA Adamu proposed, among other things, the restructuring of the Ministry of Defense to reflect contemporary challenges and contain emerging defense and security threats.

He also cited improving Nigeria’s defense production capacity, harnessing technology and improving collaboration within and across Africa as key factors for effective defense sector transformation. and security of Nigeria.

Adamu, on behalf of the course participants and the management of the National Defense College, prayed for the speedy recovery of the vice president who is still recovering, while thanking him for the opportunity to give the presentation.

Also present at the event are the President’s Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo; the Commandant of the National Defense College, Rear Admiral Murtala Bashir, and the Representative Inspector General of Police, among other senior college officers.

The presentation of the research report by course participants to the Vice President is an important feature of the National Defense College’s annual academic calendar.

Each year since 2016, college participants present research reports conducted in key areas to the Vice President.

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