By Emeka Obasi
Dear God, please dry up our oil wells. That is my prayer for I curse the day this so called black gold was discovered in Nigeria. It is a monumental shame that there is nothing to show for all the trillions of naira made from oil sales. Two Nigerians caught my attention recently.
Major General Victor Okwudili Ezugwu and Mr. Ade Ogundeyin can really attract the much needed foreign exchange to the country through their ingenuity. They can also save us quite some cash as the Armed Forces will have to look inwards for some assault weapons.
Ezugwu, from the Nsukka area of Enugu State is the Director-General of Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria [DICON]. Many of us have forgotten that the idea behind setting up DICON in 1964 was to localize the production of military weapons.
Things got so bad that we only remember DICON salt and other essential commodities that had nothing to do with ammunition and technology. In those years, if the corporation were a division of troops, all would have been condemned to death by a military tribunal for dereliction of duty.
Ogundeyin hails from Ode Remo, Ogun State and is the brain behind Pro Force Defence Limited, a company that also manufactures military hardware.He opened shop in 2008 after doing things in Kuwait.
It is remarkable that Ode Remo is not a new name in military circles. That is the home town of Major Wale ‘Cyintomen’ Ademoyega, one the officers who executed the first military coup, on January 15, 1966. He was also the last university graduate to join the Nigeria Army before the country gained Republican status in 1963.
The good news is that Pro Force manufactures armoured vehicles, ranging from Armoured Personnel Carriers [APC] to Mine Resistant Ambush Protected [MRAP] vehicle. It has branches in Ode Remo, Port Harcourt and Abuja, ready to deliver over 60 APCs in a month.
The company has also gone international making sales to Rwanda, South Sudan and Central African Republic. Tchad and Niger have also placed orders. This is the same Tchad that entered Nigerian territory not long ago to check insurgency.
More good news is that Pro-Force and DICON have agreed to work together for good. I must commend this because in our climes, jealousy and undue rivalry have killed so many dreams. Here we see an Igbo man working with a Yoruba man to help the Nigeria Army.
DICON and Pro Force have the capacity to boost the Nigerian economy by offering jobs to the youth who are roaming the streets as urchins, Yahoo Boys and living in the jungle as cannibals and kidnappers.
Government keeps talking about diversifying the economy but what I see everyday is money still being wasted importing fuel while projections are centred on petroleum accountancy.
Ezugwu is everything in one person. A member of the NDA Course 37, he graduated with a degree in History and was commissioned Second Lieutenant on September 22, 1990. That was nine days after the second batch of Gideon Orkar coup plotters faced the guns in Ogundeyin’s state.
Gen. Ezugwu holds a Masters from the University of Ibadan and went further to acquire a doctorate. He fought in Liberia, served in Sierra Leone and was acting GOC, 7th Division, confronting deadly terror groups in the North -East.
Ogundeyin trained at the University of Lagos as a Chemical Engineer.He is made in Nigeria, just like Ezeugwu even if he has worked abroad and exchanges ideas with foreign firms. And the man has tropicalized his products.
Ogundeyin said: “ Some of the armoured vehicles used by the Nigerian Armed Forces are at risk of overheating due to the high temperature in the North -East. APCs from abroad sometimes cannot cope with the heat and run into problems with their tires. We have been able to incorporate solutions to these challenges into our vehicles and come up with a truly Nigerian vehicle.”
Ezugwu took over as DG DICON from Maj. Gen. Bamidele Ogunkale on June 3, 2019. The former was born on June 28, 1964. You see what dates are doing here. Ezugwu assumed office during the month of his birth. To cap it all, the general is as old as DICON. Both were born in 1964.
There is a task for Science and Technology minister, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu. He should get involved. In Biafra, it was the Research and Production [RAP] department that came out with the dreaded Ogbunigwe [Ojukwu] bucket, built silencers, made rockets without smoke and turned APCs to Armoured cars.
I am glad that Army Chief, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, is one of the movers of this stride.As we begin to look inwards, it will be difficult to bunker and waste our commonwealth. The Ezugwu-Ogundeyin Armoured Corps will help tackle the security problems all over the nation and earn good money as well.