President Goodluck Jonathan Monday in Kaduna commissioned a ballistics vest factory complex for the production and sale of military hardware, including personal protection armour such bullet proof vests and night vision goggle equipment, noting that henceforth, Nigeria would stop the importation of military goods that can be produced by the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria.
Towards this end, he said, the federal government is set to send a bill to the National Assembly to amend the DICON Act to give the official Nigerian government arms manufacturer, a global outlook and allow it to export its products abroad.
Dressed in an army uniform with the highest rank of Field Marshal, President Jonathan who was accompanied by the minister of State for Defence who also dressed in Army Camouflage and the Service Chiefs, disclosed that the federal government would also give preferential treatment to any local or foreign firm ready to partner and site defence industries anywhere in Nigeria.
The ballistics vest factory, situated in Kakuri, Kaduna State, is a result of a joint venture agreement between the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) and an Israeli firm – Maron Nigeria Limited. It is operating under the Public Private Partnership (PPP). The joint venture company – DICON-MARON – is also to diversify into the tactical textile field, offering designing and developing services for tactical textile solutions.
DICON on its part, with Major General Labaran as DG, has perfected the production of rifles, pistols, sub-machine guns and General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMG). It has also the prototypes of the RPG (Rocket Propelled Gun Grenade) Launcher and the 81mm mortar lined up for production.
DICON was established in 1964 for the production of arms and ammunition for Nigerian military and the nation’s security agencies. The Act of Parliament establishing iit also mandated it to use its excess capacity to support the development of local industries. But after several years of existence, it has not met the expectations of the founders.
Jonathan stated that with the take off of the new factory, along with new innovations in the Navy and Air Force, there was every reason for the nation to be proud that the military has keyed into the transformation agenda of Nigeria.
His words, “With this commissioning, you must convinced me beyond all reasonable doubt that DICON cannot produce any product before such product is imported. This commissioning marks the beginning of a vibrant defence industry.”
He advised businessmen and other investors not to limit the sitting their industries only in Kaduna, noting, “You can free to site your industries anywhere in Nigeria. You just have to let us know you are sitting it as it has to do with the security sector. We will encourage people to produce our needs locally.”