1. I am very delighted and highly honoured to have been invited back to the venue of the COAS Annual Conference 2019 that combines exhibition of products of research and development efforts in the NA. Having witnessed a classic opening ceremony of the Conference and unveiling of the first indigenous Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRPA) vehicle, the ‘EZUGWU MRAP’ performed by Mr President on Tue 3 Dec 19. It is humbling to have been accorded the honour of returning today to have a day at the NA R&D Exhibition which gives me the opportunity to make a remark on this laudable initiative.
2. Undoubtedly, Research and Development (R&D) remains an important driver in the development of a nation’s industrial base. The Twenty First Century has witnessed an unprecedented transformation in technology including social, political and economic developments, which have affected military operations. Many developed nations like the United States of America (USA), Britain, France, Russia and China are currently reforming their militaries to take advantage of the revolution in technology. These nations have also continued to review their defence policies in line with anticipated response to perceived changes in technology and the nature of warfare.
3. As we all know, conflicts across the world are transmuting from well-known conventional character to asymmetrical wars fought along streets in villages, towns and other urban areas. This represents a paradigm shift from the classical interstate industrial war model to a war with no defined battle fields or fronts. Therefore, armies across the globe have embraced R&D initiatives to boost their military might and project a strong deterrence posture. The NA has equally keyed into this by exploring the huge potentials within its ranks to come up with reputable innovations. This has considerably boosted the country’s image and more importantly, up-scaled the NA’s capacity to decisively confront contemporary security threats. It is in this regard that I wish to recognise and also commend the sterling efforts of the NA under the dynamic leadership of the COAS, Lt Gen TY Buratai.
4. In May 2009, the Defence Headquarters issued the first R&D Policy for the Armed Forces. The policy indicated the resolve of the Defence Headquarters in conjunction with Ministry of Defence to give R&D a unique posture that will propel the Armed Forces into viable R&D innovations. It was anticipated that this will bring a new era of exploit into Science and Technology that will be beneficial to the nation in general and the Services in particular. Expectedly, the NA, with vast experience in human resources is presumed to be at the driving seat in actualizing a huge success in the R&D project. Accordingly, the place as well as intended benefits of R&D in the Nigerian military is even more significant in contemporary times considering the myriad of security challenges confronting the country. We are now at a time where modern armies are compelled to think outside the box and develop local initiatives through R&D in order to change the narrative. This is consistent with the NA’s strides in its several R&D initiatives.
5. Additionally, the recent launch of the NA’s Infantry Patrol Vehicle, EZUGWU MRAP which was fabricated by local engineering experts within the NA in collaboration with Go-Future Technologies Nigeria Limited is heart-warming. It is therefore envisaged that the NA would sustain this noble initiative to become self-sufficient in the production of war-like materials in the near future. I equally make bold to state that the NA’s giant strides have opened up a new vista of opportunities for the country to become a global competitor in the manufacture of military hardware. Therefore, the proper harnessing of these efforts would help to facilitate the commercial production and sales of defence equipment and ultimately become a source of foreign exchange earning for the nation. I am therefore proud to identify with the R & D efforts of the NA as I encourage its leadership to remain focused on this laudable objective.
6. The Boko Haram insurgency in particular has provided an appropriate impetus for the NA to seriously task the ingenuity of its personnel and come up with innovative ideas to address the current terrorism challenge. This is particularly worthy of note because even the terrorists are known to be innovative with captured weapons in the pursuit of their nefarious activities. Additionally, the dwindling resources allocated by the Nigerian government for defence spending makes it incumbent on the NA to look inwards and pursue novel initiatives in R&D with a view to surmounting insecurity across the nation.
7. It is therefore with high expectations for the future that I charge the NA leadership to remain committed to this noble objective in its R&D efforts. I am also looking forward to the day when the country’s military industrial complex would fully come on stream to effectively contribute to the military’s quest of enhanced local production of military hardware. In addition, we should all be ready to contribute our quota to ensure that this laudable initiative sees the light of day. Once again, I applaud you for your efforts and urge you to keep up the momentum.
8. I thank you all.