President Muhammadu Buhari said on Friday Nigeria planned to ramp up the domestic production of weapons for its armed forces, in an effort to cut the country’s dependence on imported arms.
“The Ministry of Defence is being tasked to draw up clear and measurable outlines for development of a modest military industrial complex for Nigeria,” Buhari said during a speech at the National Defence College in Abuja.
He said he wanted an overhaul of the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), a military division responsible for weapons production which was set up in 1964 but has fallen into decline.
Its factory in the northern city of Kaduna now mainly produces rifles and civilian tools, said Buhari’s spokesman Garba Shehu, adding that defence chiefs had been asked to “re-engineer” DICON.
“We must evolve viable mechanisms for near-self-sufficiency in military equipment and logistics production complemented only by very advanced foreign technologies,” said the president.
Buhari said Nigeria’s dependence on other countries for critical military equipment was unacceptable. The administration led by his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, turned to foreign suppliers.
On Tuesday a group of visiting U.S. Congress members said Washington could lift its ban on shipping arms to Nigeria’s military to help fight the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, if Abuja improved its human rights record.
Since taking office, Buhari has replaced his defence chiefs and moved the headquarters of the military operation against Boko Haram to Maiduguri, the heart of the insurgency.
And he has worked with Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin to set up an 8,700-strong multinational force to tackle the militants, who have killed over 600 people in Nigeria since his inauguration.