Nigeria achieving local requirements in defence capabilities– EPAIL Boss

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By Sumaila Ogbaje

Dr Kola Balogun, the Chairman of Equipment and Protective Applications International Ltd (EPAIL),  says Nigeria is on its way to achieving local requirements in defence production and capabilities.

Balogun, who is also the Secretary General, Defence Industry Association of Nigeria (DIAN), said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Abuja.

He said the new Defence Industry Cooperation of Nigeria (DICON) Act had provided the opportunity for the local firms to utilise local capacity to boost the nation’s defence production.

He also lamented that DICON had, since 1964, remained unproductive until the new law was signed by President Bola Tinubu.

According to him, DICON would have been so mandated since 1964 to produce defence targets or capability for the country as the equivalent of such industry in Brazil has been producing aircraft and so many other things.

“But ours still remain unproductive,” he lamented.

Balogun said the nation’s military had, for so long, depended solely on foreign capability, adding that the government had, for that reason, put up an executive order to involve private sector driven.

“We needed to repeal the DICON Act which this present administration signed into law.

“It was this development that forced the private sector to beef up the capacity and capability to venture into investing into development of various defence equipment, capability, gadgets, weapons, and so on.

“EPAIL, which is one of the members of DIAN, has done so well to go and learn about capability and standard.

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“There are global standards that midwife the defence development all over the world and that is why the investment on the construction or manufacture of Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) or light armoured vehicle for the country is inevitable in line with the global standard.

“We have put in so much energy, so much peculiarity to address some of the insurgencies since most of our war are asymmetric and because of that, we design a vehicle that is capable of higher maneuverability and little risk for all our troops.

“So, our troops in this vehicle will not necessarily come out. They will be able to disengage the enemy right inside the vehicle while they are safe,” he said.

The EPAIL boss commended President Bola Tinubu for encouraging local defence development in terms of capability.

He said the Light Armoured Personnel Carrier (APCs) vehicles recently produced and delivered to the military could resist AK 47 and some other light ammo weapons with sophisticated electronic sensor that could detect a proximity IED.

“We have delivered 20 and they have given us another 20 orders to produce and some other services are actually trying to purchase more.

“We have also produced some missile drones that we are going to supply to the defence industry very soon,” he added.

Balogun said there was need for reassurance in terms of advocacy so as to encourage all arms of the military to believe in the development of local capabilities.

He also urged the federal government to encourage more investors to come and invest in the defence industry, adding that its funding methodology was different.

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He envisioned a Nigerian defence industry that would start getting recognition by at least African countries in the nearest future.

According to him, EPAIL recently supplied the UN with ballistic vest and element.

“Ghana is talking to us now to come and buy some of the fragmented jackets in the country.

“It means they are now having confidence in what we are producing because we are now producing to standard,” he said. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Safiya Hamza

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