By Bashir AdefakaThe
Nigerian Army has commissioned an ultra-modern Nigerian Army Ordnance Tailoring Factory in Lagos. Major-General A. A. Martins, whose Nigerian Army Ordnance Corps (NAOC) transformational effort brought about the new tailoring factory, said the idea was strictly in compliance with the Chief of the Army Staff, COAS, Lieutenant General Kenneth Minimah’s transformational programmes. The COAS’ mission, he had made clear upon assumption of office, is to reposition the army in line with the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic.
The proposal by the Commandant, NAOC, Martins, for the upgrading of the Ordnance Ancillary Services Department, established in 1993, to an ultra modern tailoring factory, Minimah said, was one of such.
The upgraded department, having been commissioned, Martins said, would henceforth be known as Nigerian Army Ordnance Tailoring Factory. This factory is also supposed to manage eight other factories located at the Nigerian Army Divisions all over the country.
And these are under a Commander, Brigadier-General A. Akintade, who told this reporter in his office after the event that the tailoring factory had the strength to satisfy the uniform needs of the army and the rest uniform-wearing members of the nation’s security and traffic organizations. The tailoring factory, Akintade said, would run three shifts of 250 tailors per shift plus supporting staff like security, cleaners and the rest thereby providing employment for over one thousand persons per day.
This concept by Martins is not the first to come by his administrative prowess; Nigerian Army College of Logistics was one place he had also played innovative roles that contributed immensely to resolving the ongoing security challenges facing the nation. At a time, during the General Azubuike Ihejirika’s era, when security challenges appeared to have gone a step beyond the police and was facing the armed forces shoulder-to-shoulder, the Nigerian Army devised tactics, from time to time, to get at the route of the challenges bone-to-bone, intelligence-to-intelligence and logistics-to-logistics.
That precisely was what the Nigerian Army College of Logistics, under the leadership of Martins, who was then commandant, braced up to do, which was done by first upgrading the training impact in the officers and staff of the forces regarding Logistics Management Course 10/2012 and Logistics Staff Course 9/2012. At NAOC, Martins wanted to make a mark and then, he came up with the idea of establishing the tailoring factory, which he said was in line with the transformational programmes initiated by Minimah which the COAS made clear that he wanted to do to reposition and turn out a brand new Nigerian Army as his own contribution to the Federal Government transformation agenda.
In his address during the commissioning, Minimah said, “I stand here before you this morning to commission the Nigerian Army Ordnance Tailoring Factory and also, by extension, see what the tailoring factory is doing. And I want to say, with all sincerity, that I am so much impressed with all that I have seen here today. This is the dividends of continuity. When a right precedence is set, subsequent regimes should continue with it.” Earlier in his welcome address, Martins had told his visitor that the NAOC tailoring factory was capable of cutting 2,500-pair of uniforms in six hours, that is, 10,000-pairs in 24 hours through the newly acquired computerized cutting machine, which he said was made possible through the support of the COAS.
Minimah, in his speech at the occasion, continued, “We have had challenges across the army in the immediate and past seven years about proliferation of uniforms, standardization of uniforms and the sources of the uniforms.
I just have the opportunity and I think I should contribute to correcting this. Then I said, henceforth, we should, as much as possible, have our uniform from one source and it must be a local source. That was the decision I took.
“Uniforms will now be sewn (by the army). No more giving out of yards and so you should know your size because uniforms are not being sewn in sizes: small; medium; large, extra large; extra extra large; then of course, extra extra extra large (laughs). All these efforts will boost local economy, it will boost self reliance and it is in line with the transformation agenda of the Federal Government. Because the company that is the source, Woolen Nigeria & Synthetic Company, they are not going to bring Indians here. The local content is there. They have 400 staff on their employ who are Nigerians, while only five come from India. To me, 400 staff translate to 400 families because as a staff, you either have a wife or husband.
“Like I said, hundred percent of the company’s raw material is cotton and the cotton is available here in Nigeria. The farmers make money through the selling of their products and so the whole thing is intertwined to a cycle of economic growth and growth of the GDP. So, when you go outside to source, it is longer because of the bureaucracy of foreign exchange, drain on nation’s economic foreign reserve; time for shipment from there to this end and other inadequacies and the high cost of importation. And, by so doing, you are growing the economy of other countries, creating employment for other people in other countries and more people being made to survive outside Nigeria. Why must we not do our own? That is just why I am doing this. Agreed, some people will say they are of low quality but if they do not do it, over and over again, how do they improve?”