A strong political will and adequate funding are critical elements required to develop Nigeria’s defence industry, says Prof. David Alabi of the Nigeria Defence Academy, Kaduna. Alabi, a Professor of Political Science and Defence Studies, said this in an interview with newsmen in Abuja on Sunday.
The don expressed regret that the 51-year-old Defence Industries Corporation (DICON), established in 1964, was producing only bullets, dicon salt and furniture. According to him, its counterparts in Brazil and India are producing aircraft and Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC). Alabi described the condition of DICON as “unfortunate’’ and “pitiable’’.
He further said that corruption and impunity were rife in the industry and must be fought to a standstill for meaningful development to take place in the defence sector of the economy. “Government is not funding the industry very well and without adequate funding, there can’t be meaningful development.
“Within the industry itself, corruption must be fought to a standstill. Nigeria’s defence sector is riddled with corruption. The culture of impunity should also be addressed . “It is a sector where there is no democracy; you cannot question your boss; leaders in the sector prefer to import arms because they can inflate price, cut corners and steal money,’’ he said.
Alabi recalled that some soldiers whose allowances were not paid after serving in Darfur for two years on a peacekeeping mission, had to stage a protest before they received their money. “What could be worse than sacrificing your life after two years and not get paid?’’ he asked.
He, therefore, advised the Buhari-led administration to address the lapses in the defence industry, to enable it to thrive. The don stressed that against the background of the current national and global security challenges, Nigeria should not continue to depend on other nations for the supply of arms and ammunition. He said it was high time Nigeria started producing its own arms and ammunition.