Nigerian Army challenging states on industrialisation

Posted by News Express | 11 September 2020 | 792 times

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From the definitions in Oxford languages, the concept of industrialisation is seen as “the development of industries in a country or region on a wide scale.”

Similarly, The Guardian (Lagos) sees industrialisation as “a process by which an economy moves from primarily agrarian production to mass-produced technologically advanced goods and services. This phase is characterised by exponential leaps in productively, shifts from rural to urban labour, and increased standards of living.”

However, the first source we quoted says industrialisation is beset by numerous challenges, including low capacity utilisation; unstable infrastructure (which impacts on the costs of doing business); absence of ventures capital for business start-ups; high cost of capital, especially from banks and other financial institutions; lack of long-term loan and absence of enabling environment.

Obi I. Iwuagwu of the Faculty of African Economics History of the University of Wisconsin said: “Since Nigeria became independent in 1960, achieving economic development through rapid industrialisation has remained a major challenge.”

The academic who wrote on the theme – “Nigeria and the challenge of industrial development: The New cluster Strategy” – stated that industrialisation has actually constituted the fundamental focal point of almost all the political administrators that Nigeria has ever had.

The above is factually accurate because in the current dispensation, the Nigerian Army under the leadership of Lt-Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai and the other segments of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has, actually, made landmark achievements in the area of industrialisation and indigenisation of military technology in such a way that the end-products have been effectively deployed in waging the war on terror to some appreciable level and success.

The Nigerian Army’s Engineers Corps has embraced the essential elements of local production, construction and manufacturing as the official modus operandi in line with the industrialisation mantra of President Buhari’s administration. Remarkable and empirical successes have been recorded in such a way that a lot of roads and housing assets have been locally fabricated and constructed by the Nigerian Army.

On December 3, 2019, President Buhari commissioned the first locally-made Mine Resistance Ambush Protection Vehicle, called Ezeugwu MRAP to join the military inventory used for counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in the North-east.

A top military officer informed media watchers that Ezeugwu MRAP will join the infantry patrol vehicles that were earlier produced as testimony that Nigerian military efforts are yielding positive results as Buhari had noted during the commissioning.

The senior officer explained that Ezeugwu is a 4x4 resistance ambush protection vehicle, designed to carry out extraction of troops, assault and counter-terrorism operations, especially in the North-east terrain.

“Since it’s unveiling, Ezeugwu MRAP have been tested and proven to be a game-changer in the fight against insurgency in the country, because of its features and capacity to ward off terrorists. The Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) and Command Engineering Depot (CED) have also continued to work hard to improve the vehicle.

“The improved Ezeugwu MRAP has been tested in the North-east with optimal results and the feedback of its exploits from the theatre of operations led to the production of five additional units of the MRAP, bringing its total in the operation to 10 units,” the officer said.

The MRAP has a maximum output of 375 horsepower, turbo-charged diesel engine, with the maximum Turk of 1650 Newton metres and its primary and secondary armament are 12.7 anti- aircraft gun and 7.62mm LMG GPMG. It is designed to resist mine blast of up to 12 kilogrammes TMT and can protect the troops inside the vehicle.

According to further information made available by sources from a documentary video, Ezeugwu MRAP is a versatile counter-insurgency vehicle that poses threat to adversaries. It has been acknowledged by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology at the technology and innovation expo 2020 and the Kaduna Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture at the 41st Kaduna International Trade Fair to be a game-changer in addressing security challenges confronting the nation.

The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen Tukur Buratai, noted that in addition to boosting the fight against terrorism, the production of Ezeugwu MRAP, is a good step in reducing the country’s reliance on foreign-made war machinery.

“There is the dire need to begin a 360 degrees deviation from the reliance on importation of all classes of tactical and heavy and operational vehicles to the indigenous production of mobility war machinery,” Buratai said.

Ezeugwu MRAP was named by the COAS in honour of the Director-General of DICON, Maj-Gen Victor Ezeugwu, a veteran whose foresight and contribution led to the actualisation of the Nigerian Army vision of producing indigenous military fighting vehicles that meet the requirements of the Federal Government in tackling insurgency in the North-east.

But as is well-known, good things often attract attention and, in some cases, certain claims are manufactured to try to detract from the essence of the landmark achievement. The same scenario played up as soon as the Nigerian Army introduced these combat vehicles. But the Army rapidly diffused the needless cacophony of confusion.

The Army said that the attention of the Nigerian Army (NA) has been drawn to an online publication with a caption “Meet Emmanuel Ezugwu: Military War Vehicle Named After Him.”

In the light of the above erroneous and misleading publication, the NA finds it necessary to correct the gross misrepresentation and wrong assertion and to put the records very clear that the Emmanuel Ezugwu referred to in the publication is NOT the brain behind the Nigerian Army locally manufactured Mine Resistance Anti-Ambush Protected Vehicle (MRAP).

The NA MRAP was, indeed, conceptualised, invented and designed by a serving Army General – Maj-Gen Victor Okwudili Ezugwu, the current Director-General of DICON. Maj-Gen Victor Okwudili Ezugwu – NOT Prof Emmanuel Ezugwu – conceptualised and designed the first-ever Nigerian made MRAP and also diligently supervised the production from the beginning to the end, at the Army Command Engineering Depot (CED), Kaduna.

For records, history and posterity, find below a brief history of the Army General.

Victor Okwudili Ezugwu was born on June 28, 1964. He joined the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, on September 27, 1985 as a member of the 37 Regular Combatant and commissioned to the rank of 2Lt on September 22, 1990.

An infantry officer of high professional rating, he served Nigeria meritoriously in ECOMOG/UN Operations in Sierra Leone and Liberia and Operation Restore Hope in Niger Delta. He commanded 28 Task Force Brigade in Adamawa State and 7 Division Maiduguri as General Officer Commanding (GOC), from 2015-2017. He was appointed Director-General of the Defence Industries Corporation on June 3, 2019.

An engineer by mere providence and passion, he initiated the design and production of prototype variants of light, tactical patrol as well as Armoured Fighting Vehicles by DICON-CED, Kaduna. In recognition of these feats, the Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen TY Buratai rewarded his achievements by naming the first indigenous MRAP after Ezugwu. The Nigerian Army had earlier elevated the principle of buy made-in-Nigeria by showing the spirit of patriotism when the Chief of Army Staff authorised the purchase of shoes for soldiers from Aba in Abia State, in demonstration of President Muhammadu Buhari's policy of encouraging local manufacturing and ultimately promote industrialisation.

The 8th Senate hailed the Nigerian Army over the purchase of Made-in-Nigeria shoes and patronising locally-made goods.

The upper legislative chambers applauded the Army thus: “Patronage of Made-in-Nigeria goods is an obvious panacea for our economic problems. We, will, by doing that increase our Gross Domestic Product (GDP), empower our youths, challenge their creativity, increase revenue generation ability of state governments and improve on the sense of self-pride and patriotism of Nigerians.”

The then Senate President Bukola Saraki further advised states and the Federal Government to encourage local manufacturers by providing them with necessary infrastructure, soft loans, patronage and helping them to improve on the quality of their goods as well as facilitating their ability to access the export market.

Saraki also implored organised groups like the National Economic Summit Group (NESG), associations in the field of marketing communications and others who can help in the areas of goods packaging, sales promotion and quality enhancement to engage the local manufacturers and see how they can help them broaden their reach and produce goods that can be sold across the world.

“We have an opportunity to turn our challenge to prosperity. We can create mass employment and make the private sector centre of our economy, if we can make our small and medium enterprises to prosper. This is a task for all of us and this promotion of Made-in-Nigeria is a cardinal point in the agenda of the present Senate” (Channels TV).

The strong message from the good examples of the Nigerian Army is that the 36 states need to embrace the promotion of local manufacturing as one way of promoting employment opportunities for graduates who are being churned out in large proportions without any blueprints for absorbing them into the workforce.  Few days back, the National Bureau of Statistics released the latest unemployment rate and stated that Imo State has the largest concentration of unemployed people.

Harvard University-trained lawyer and former Chief Executive Officer of the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) Dr Sam Amadi, has proffered industrialisation and indigenisation as one way out of Nigeria's perennial problem of mass unemployment of young people; just as it is appropriate to recommend to political office holders in the states to borrow a leaf from the Nigerian Army on how to actualise in both short, medium and long-term, the industrialisation of their states so as to create wealth and jobs for their people.

Sam Amadi stated: “Many have wondered why Imo State is the unemployment centre of the nation. They have argued that it means that the government in Imo State, over the years, has done a more terrible job than the governments in the rest of the country. Well, we have had terrible governments but that does not explain our lead in the unemployment market.

“We are top in unemployment because we are graduating the most students from universities and we don’t have opportunities for them to secure jobs or create jobs for themselves. Some other states don’t have employment or business opportunities but they don’t have large entrants into the employment market. If you graduate an average of 4,000 young men and women from the universities every year and your industries and commercial outfits can only employ 500 and another state graduates 2,000 and can employ 100 persons, you have a higher unemployment rate. The demand and supply of employable persons determine the unemployment rates.

“In Imo State, like other states, focus for employment has been on civil service jobs as there are few commercial and industrial activities. The reason is because governance in these states has been political rather than entrepreneurial. Those states have not been entrepreneurial. An entrepreneurial state is one that drives investment and productivity as a business would, so as to enhance efficient production.”

He recalled: “We saw such governance with the late Dr Michael Okpara in the defunct Eastern Region when we became the fastest growing economy in the Commonwealth. Okpara established several cottage industries and commercial outfits. In one fell swoop, internally generated revenue grew astronomically such that Okpara believed that if Nigeria followed the vision, it could reach the GDP and per capita levels of developed economies in less than 15 years. Because Okpara understood the principles of economic development and social transformation, he was able to create wealth and jobs through efficient public sector leadership. He did not wait for the non-existent private sector to drive development. Like the East Asian leaders, he understood the concept of a developmental state and utilised all natural resources in sustainable manner to create wealth and jobs.

“We can and should replicate Okpara’s vision in Imo State and the former Eastern Region. The same structure and resources remain; the only things missing are the knowledge and character.

“To solve the high unemployment evidenced in the state, the Imo State Government needs two strategic actions. First, it needs to go back to cottage industries across the state and the region. When I ran for governorship primary, I identified prospects for one cottage industry every quarter in every LGA in Imo State, employing about 100-150 persons. This will cater to the unskilled and semi-skilled young men and women. Again, government should encourage the establishment of ICT and innovation incubation centres to enable high-skilled and educated youths to attract digital jobs across the world. This, supplemented with entrepreneurial training and financial support, will help many to develop new start-ups. With about 99 per cent literacy and high quality human capital, Imo State should be Africa’s capital of start-ups. That’s why in my vision, I boasted of making Imo State the Bangalore of Africa.

“We need this twin approach to deal with unemployment in Imo State: cottage industries for low skills and high-end digital hubs for high skills. But, you first need a focused government that is stable and democratic. Okpara got this right when he urged Nigeria to develop consensual governance that will enable rapid economic development.”

Industrialisation, indeed, is the way to go and the Nigerian Army has one or two lessons to teach the state administrations.

 

 

• Onwubiko is the Head of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria and blogs @www.huriwanigeria.com, www.thenigerianinsidernews.com

 


Source: News Express

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