.FG hands over 57 oil fields to Matrix, Ardova, others

—As AU recommends Agency’s equipment for African countries
-FG begins production of military hardware, motor spare parts

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved a N24 billion for the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) for the execution of a smart modular irrigation project.

The Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of NASENI, Professor Mohammed Sani Haruna, disclosed this on Friday, while briefing State House Correspondents after a closed-door meeting President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Prof. Haruna also gave reasons why the Nigeria-made helicopter was yet to commence operation in the country.

The NASENI boss said Nigeria has successfully completed the production of Nigeria-made helicopter.

He said he was at the Villa to show the financial details of the agency’s operation to the President, adding that the modular irrigation project would enhance agricultural development in the country, enabling farmers to produce crops three times round the year.

He also said that the visit to the presidential villa was part of his regular meeting with the President to brief him on the activities of his agency, adding that the Friday’s visit was different because It included the financial report of NASENI.

According to him, it was to update the President on the way the place is being run even as he said that President Buhari requested to know the state of the accounts of the agency.

He said, “It’s not for anything suspicion, but we have been asking for funding and more funding, then you want to know the status of what is happening so far. For example, I have said to you, the 1% of the Federation Account due to NASENI, we receive only the federal government component of it, instead of 1% before it’s shared to the states and others that benefit from this

“Last week, the President approved N24 billion for smart irrigation system, on request by NASENI. So, it is his thought if our money is remitted, why asking for further funding. Just to clarify the situation, not because of any other things, to know the status. And, of course, to give him exactly, as the Chairman of the Board NASENI, he should know to the last Kobo, what do we have, what don’t we have, to guide his decisions on matters.

“it is for the modular irrigation system. We have acquired a 10 hectare farmland on lease in Adamawa State, using water from River Benue, where this pilot scheme is starting and it is estimated that, based on the technologies to be used there, it is possible to have three multi-crop season in a year, commencing from October this year, God willing.

“The monies are for the pumps, the structure, the farming techniques, the farmers, the officers, the offices that are needed, the vehicles, and the administrative management, up to the period that we will have this demonstration farm, using modular irrigation system first model. First model in the sense that this one we’re drawing water from River Benue, of course solar powered.”

Explaining the funding of the agency, he said the statutory one percent of the Federation Account meant to be drawn for its running is dedicated to execution of some priority projects that had been approved by government.

He noted with dismay that only the Federal Government pay the one percent component from its share from federation account.

“The application of these funds is in some priority projects approved by government. The capital components include payment of 15 percent of the local counterpart funding for three key projects in the Power sector; the development and production of solar cells locally; development and production of electric power transformers and the third one is high voltage testing laboratory.

“Now, these are projects with 85 percent funding support from China, which is part of what is approved and being implemented in the 2021/2022 Borrowing Plan. That is number one and in that, out of the $48,879,103, representing 15 percent of what Nigeria is paying as the 15% counterpart funding based on the money remitted to NASENI in the first and third quarters. $23,928,063 had been remitted in these two quarters.

“The other areas of application of this fund include the development and domestications of technologies NASENI has acquire from a partnering organization in Italy, de Lorenzo, in the production of technical science laboratory equipment for primary school, secondary school and tertiary institutions.

“The third component is the development of skills development centers in six geopolitical zones. For now, one each per zone. The fourth component of application of this fund is in the development of three out of 12 new centers approved by the President for different states of the federation and of course, continue research and development, reverse engineering and assembly of some military equipment in collaboration with two different private companies, that is Nigeria Machine Tools Limited, Oshogbo and PROFORCE, manufacturer of some military hardware, based in Ogun State, and of course, completion of the remodeled NASENI headquarters.

“These are priority areas where these funds have been applied. The briefings also included the newly developed equipment and machines that are needed to have mechanized farming. This simple, but needed equipment include equipment for cultivation, for planting, for weeding, for processing, harvesting, up to food preservation”, he said.

He said that the President was impressed that NASENI is delivering on its mandate, saying “he has seen what has happened in this quarter and he’s impressed and directed us to do more, particularly in the modular irrigation projects that we are commencing from Adamawa state, the solar cells production and also other agric implements.”

While noting that NASENI has trained Nigerians for mass production of the helicopters, he said thatthe two helicopters that have been successfully produced, is currently awaiting accreditation by the Nigerian Aviation Aviation Authority before it could start flying.

“The helicopter project of NASEN is a technology we copied from Belgium and also from Indonesia. We imported after training staff on all aspects of it from design to production to assembly, repairs and maintenance. After they qualified including pilots, we assembled two helicopters, which we bought CKD from these places and assemble it with a view of producing the parts by part, to have a wholly or fully made in Nigeria helicopter.

“Now this helicopters in the helipad and hanger developed in our site in Karishi where our solar manufacturing plant is.
However, for its expansion, the President has approved the projects to be relocated to Nigeria Air Force Institute of Technology, Kaduna, because of the already developed facilities there in order not to reinvent the wheel. Not only that, it was approved for us to have aeronautics and air vehicle developments centre of NASENI within the premises. That would require us to use a runway an order airport facilities.

“Since this institution also is located on the old Kaduna airport, all that is needed to expand is there. So, we have trained people and we have developed successfully. Why you have not seen it flying is because the Civil Aviation Authority is still doing all that processes needed to certify this helicopter. But then what delay us is that the process also required was also to train some personnel of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority on this because no one has done this in the past before.

“So, they also require from international civil authority authorization, clearance and certification on how they can accredit it because they do not have protocol in the past on how to assess an accredit a locally produced helicopter. That is what is delaying it. But we have gone ahead not only with the helicopter but with other aircraft development because we have adequate manpower for that.”

Speaking further, he revealed that the Nigerian Machine Tools, Osogbo has also commenced the production of protective wears with ballistics elements, bulletproof vest, boot and other military hardwares.

Haruna said that the firm has also partnered with some indigenous companies to start producing motor spare parts.

“The Nigerian Machine Tools, Osogbo has been doing a lot in the production of protective wears with ballistics elements, bulletproof vest, boot and other things. Now, with NASENI collaboration with Indonesia and also Azerbaijan, we have trained people on how to assemble Armoured Personnel Carrier, how to produce certain component of each instead of only assembling, the machine tools help the machines that equally working together, we produce some component to gradually substitute these and therefore equally proposed to do bulletproof vehicles, bulletproof impose tires and bulletproof glass.

“So if they are expert in this, machine tools is expert in other components. NASENI has trained people in order design and computer aided manufacturing.

“What we do for companies like INNOSON Motors, is we produce mould for them that they need to be producing the spare parts in commercial quantity. However, if there is a unique car, in which only one item of the spare part is needed, instead of mass production, we do produce it because we have facility to recycle scrap metal and molten iron ductile iron even alloys and use it with our moulds to give us the shape and size of any component and machine appropriately because we use computer aided manufacturing and design.

“Our partnership with INNOSON Motors has aid them now to commence production of cargo version of tricycles.”

“Let me say that through our research and development activities in solar, it is so successful that, through the local innovations we now have a factory with 7.5 megawatts capacity, limited liability company and hundred percent owned by the Government in Karishi, Abuja producing solar module of the highest quality and then, they are being installed in many places. We have dealers who but this and distribute. We participate in the installation in private and government buildings.

“7.5 megawatts cannot meet the needs of the nation and it’s not making the price of solar power affordable because the cells use in the manufacturing is imported.

“However, solar cells are products of silicon. Silicone is obtained from silica and silica is from sand, which we have abundance. That is what the president has approved to obtain this facility from China so that we will do everything possible to have 100% made in Nigeria product. When that is done, solar power supply will be affordable because the price will definitely crash tremendously. This is because the most expensive component is solar cells. Let me also add solar cells is not only for the production of solar modules or solar panels, this is the component needed in electronics and communication device.

“So, once we can produce solar cells, and we know how to produce the machines and the equipment and laboratory facilities that disappoint China will do for us. Then all those who do electronic design and other things will be able to produce the component locally.”

The Executive Vice Chairman revealed that the agency supplies mechanical equipment to schools in the Niger Delta region that offer engineering courses, adding that the African Union has recommended to member states the use of equipment produced by NASENI.

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