Nigeria Has No Need To Be Importing Military Weapons

By Captain Jerry Ogbonna (rtd)

In 1996 i was serving as the director of research Defence headquarters under General Shelpedi who was the chief of defence research and General Abdulsalam Abubakar was the Chief of Defence Staff. We organized a defence conference aimed at instigating local production of military platforms. At that time there was an officer in naval dockyard Lt. Cdr Shehu a naval architected at the naval dockyard who attended same college with me in England. I instigated them to copy one of the naval ships NNS Yola and they did it successfully. That was the beginning of local production of ships by the Nigerian Navy. The Airforce was to follow with aircrafts based on the Air beatle project already in production locally by AIEP in Kaduna and the Army was to follow with production of Armoured Personal Carriers (APC) in Styr truck factory in Bauchi but the the army and airforce failed to follow up. I was literally chased out of DHQ by the CNS then Aikigbe may his soul rest in peace because as he thought then i was sabotaging his importation program. In addition he staged a court martial against me over some trumped up charges. But today he is gone and navy is moving forward with vessel construction. It is heart-warming stories from the Naval Dockyard how far they have gone in naval ship construction.

With the existence of defence production infrastructure like Defence Industry Corporation (DICON), NAVDOC, we have no need procuring any defence equipment abroad. DICON was started the same time as similar factory in Brazil and India and those countries have been producing their military weapons and platforms. In fact there are artisan producers of light weapons in Jos, Awka who are currently producing AK47/49 rifles who should be encouraged not vilified. Defence contracts in Nigeria is a big Scam! An avenue to steal billion of dollars. Costing us billions in dollars and creating jobs for other countries. While our young generation are carrying arms against us as bandits and kidnapers for poor management of the economy.

All is now set for the Nigerian Navy, NN, to begin the construction and maintenance of ships for countries within the African continent and other countries of the globe, at the Naval Dockyard Limited , Victoria Island Apapa, Lagos.

Already, the Cameroonian Navy has indicated interest to partner with the Nigerian Navy in ship building and maintenance.

The Chief of the Naval Staff, CNS Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo , made the disclosure during the assessment tour of the yard, by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Musa Istufanus.

The NDL which is the premiere logistics facility of the NN that caters for Third Line or depot level maintenance of NN ships, according to the CNS, had successfully constructed several ships among which was a 31 meter Seaward Defence Boat Project which was commissioned by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2012 as NNS ANDONI, as well as a 38.9meters Seaward Defence Boat (NNS KARADUWA) which was commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari at the NDL in 2016.

At the moment, the CNS said a 43 metres Seaward Defence Boat 3, which is still under construction at the NDL , would be launched in two months. After the launch, he boasted that the Naval Dockyard would be set to produce vessels for any country in the world.

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The CNS said, “We’re in partnership with Bureau Varitas , an international ship building certification company. Once they certify SDB 3, we should be able to build ships for any country in the world.”

“Just last week I was approached by the Cameroonian Navy, which indicated interest to partner with us in ship building and maintenance. But we want to perfect our design of the SDB 3. Thereafter, we’re going to launch another which will be called SDB 4. After that, we would be able to tell Cameron and other countries around the West Coast and other parts of Africa that they can come and partner with us to build ships for them”.

Expressing satisfaction on the activities at the NDL, the visiting Permanent Secretary, said the Ministry of Defence would support the Navy to up their game in all ramifications.

He said, “Now that I understand all the issues on ground, they will get full support of the Ministry of Defence, to up their game. You know if you tell somebody he is doing well he may go and relax. I don’t want to tell them they’re doing very well. We need to do a lot more and I have discussed with them what I think they should be doing more”.

Earlier in his brief to the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Defence , on activities of NDL, the Admiral Superintendent, Naval Dockyard, Rear Admiral Kohath levi disclosed that the NDL had recorded series of notable achievements in the areas of ship building, marine construction, ship’s maintenance and fabrication amongst others, since it commenced operations over four decades ago.

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He said, ”It is worthy to state that the Yard is currently constructing the 43m long SDB III for the NN. The construction of the SDBs at NDL is a strong indication of the Yard’s capacity at local ship building which can be further developed. It is pertinent to state that the construction of the SDB III has reached an advanced stage and the Yard is working round the clock to ensure the delivery of the project as soon as possible. At present, the key remaining works on the project include system integration, gun installation and outfitting which are currently ongoing.”

“Additionally, the Yard has commenced the design phase of the projected Seaward Defence Boat 4. This was premised on the successes recorded on the previously constructed Seaward Defence Boats.

“Also, considering the amount that could be expended on acquiring similar vessel from outside the shore of Nigeria, which is in the range of N5B – N6.5B compared to about N3.4B budgeted for SDB III, it is opined that sustaining the novel shipbuilding capacity of NN would be in the best interest of the Service in particular and Nigeria in general”.

He informed that the Nigerian Navy through the NDL, entered into collaboration with Messrs Epenal Group of Companies for the construction of Glass Reinforced Plastic boats and that since the partnership between the two companies was established, they had jointly constructed over 100 Riverine Patrol Boats, RPB in the Yard.

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Levi pointed out that the construction was carried out with the Yard’s facility and equipment, with most of the raw materials locally sourced and most parts of the construction work carried out by NDL staff. The boats according to him, were deployed in the Nigerian waters for various NN operations.

Other achievements as highlighted by Rear Admiral Levi , included the construction of six personnel carrier boats for the Ministry of Agriculture and a proposed partnership by the Lagos State Government with the NDL, for the fabrication and construction of some ferry boats.

The NDL according to him, was also “awarded the contract to construct a 25 – Man House Boat for NN choke point regime in 2019. The concept design for the House boat involves assembly of modules made of 40ft containers. It is worthy of note that the construction of the Houseboat was completed and commissioned into the NN as Naval Security Station 030 (NSS 030). It is important to state that the Houseboat was fully constructed in the Yard by indigenous NDL staff and built using NDL equipment and locally sourced materials. Currently, NHQ is proposing to award the construction of more house boats to the Yard.”

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“The Yard has been engaged in the docking and repairs of boats and smaller vessels for the Service and other maritime organisations. These vessels include NN01, NNS EKULU, NNS NGURU, NNS OSE, NNS ONITSHA, NNS IBUSA, NNS OSUN, NNS ONITSHA, NNS IKOT ABASI, NNS BENIN, MV SWORDWISH and MV REBIRTH amongst others. Furthermore, the Yard is on the verge of censuring a contract for the repair/overhaul of 4 NIMASA boats, which were hitherto considered to be beyond economic repairs. The defects of the boats have been identified and articulated by the Yard with a view to carrying out comprehensive repairs on them.

“The NDL in partnership with HABTOB Global Ventures is currently constructing 2 x 500 ton Self – Propelled Barges for the NN. One of the barges is earmarked for storage and supply of AGO while the other will supply fresh water to ships at sea. The project commenced in 2019 and it is projected to act as a force multiplier for the NN in her bid to continually maintain presence at sea.”

“NNS CENTENARY, one of the two Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) acquired between 2012 and 2017 from China was docked on Tuesday, September 22, 2020 , for replacement of her generators. The replacement has been carried out by a special team of NN personnel constituted by Naval Headquarters and representatives of the Chinese Company that manufactured the vessel.

Currently, the vessel is awaiting painting and undocking. Also carried out on the vessel by NDL are underwater maintenance/repairs which include servicing of sea chest valves, fabrication and replacement of mud boxes, removal of sacrificial anodes for replacement, scraping barnacles on the ship’s underwater part, sand blasting as well as application of protective coatings on the ship’s underwater hull.

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“It is pertinent to state that huge resources were saved from the exercise which was carried out in NDL, as an estimated sum of about $5m was to be spent on the vessel if she was taken out of Nigeria compared to a paltry sum of less than $200,000.00 expended on her in NDL. It is pertinent to mention that the sister vessel, NNS UNITY is currently berthed in the Yard awaiting docking as soon as NNS CENTENARY is undocked”.

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“The Yard is currently carrying out precision machining of a 5 MW stone crusher rotor belonging to Messrs Dangote’s Ibese Cement Factory in the Heavy Engineering Workshop. This intricate job which was hitherto done abroad further attests to the confidence being reposed on NDL’s ability for quality work delivery by companies in Nigeria.

“The Yard carries out machining of shafts for naval and merchant vessels. Currently, the machining of a 5.875m (length) x 20mm (diameter) shaft belonging to a client is being carried out in the Yard. This is against importing a new shaft from abroad and helps in saving foreign exchange for the country.

“The NDL has been partnering with Messrs Dorman Long in the construction of heavy engineering materials for the oil and gas sectors in Nigeria. For instance, a substantial part of the Bonga Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) unit was constructed in NDL. Currently, NDL in partnership with Messrs Dorman Long is constructing a gas platform for production and processing of gas.

“One of the objectives of local ship building is to build capacity and domesticate as many parts of the ship building as possible. To this end, it is gladdening to state that NDL has successfully domesticated fabrication of many of the Seaward Defence Boat parts and accessories. These include water/air tight doors/hatches, fire rated/sound proof interior doors and aluminium roofing amongst others. All these accessories and components have been fabricated in the Yard using both human and material resources available locally.

“NDL recently fabricated 10 units of gun pedestals, shields and mounts for 12.7mm Browning machine gun for the NN. The fabrication entailed precision machining to achieve both training and elevation parameters and to withstand the recoil effects of the gun which fires 1,200 rounds per minute. The pedestal shields and gun mounts for the gun were hitherto imported from abroad at about $4,000 (about N1,920,000.00 at an exchange rate of N480 to USD1) per piece. However, the Yard intervened and produced each at less than N900,000.00 per unit. This development saved the nation huge economic loses and further enhanced local capacity development”, Rear Admiral Levi stated.

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