Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday expressed the readiness of the National Assembly to support the Nigerian Air Force in the development and deployment of Made-In-Nigeria technology in its operations.
Saraki, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sanni Onogu, in Abuja, gave the pledge in his remarks as guest of honour at the Nigerian Air Force Research and Development (R&D) competition and exhibition held in Kaduna.
“Nigeria must maximize the applicability of the cutting edge designs that are on display today — and the countless others that we have neglected over the years,” Saraki said. “As we do this, we must begin to look inwards in order to provide funding for these ideas that can help us address our current security challenges and advance our military technology.”
The Senate President who was represented by the Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Air Force, Senator Ali Wakili, added that: “We must seek them out from wherever they may lie in our people by providing them with a platform to grow. As you must be well aware, with our institutional push towards marketing ‘Made in Nigeria’ ideas, ideals, goods and services to the rest of the world, the Air Force has a staunch partner in the National Assembly.
“I want you to also know that as you work to expand the scope of these ideas, the National Assembly is ready and willing to do all that it takes to help you get them off the ground through the appropriation process,” he said.
The Senate President reiterated that the Senate, through the passage of laws like the Public Procurement Act and the ongoing consideration of the Federal Competition Bill, would continue to work to provide the legal platforms to enable local enterprise and innovation.
While commending the leadership of the Air Force for leading the way in innovation and local content development, Saraki said: “We will continue to tweak our laws to provide level playing fields that will allow our local innovators and entrepreneurs to benefit from the over N2 trillion Naira that is available each year in the Public Procurement Process.
“Just last week, the Senate pushed Nigeria one step closer to joining the ranks of countries in the world with research and development institutions that are dedicated to the advancement of their domestic aerospace and aviation sectors. This occurred with the passage of the Air Force Institute of Technology establishment Bill.
“With this legislative framework in place, it is my hope that we will be able to build on the work that we have seen displayed here today, and enhance our strategic standing amongst our allies in West Africa and around the world.
“This can be achieved through the implementation of some of this research and the mass production of many of these designs. Today’s event has demonstrated that Nigeria has ample potential,” he said.
He insisted that there is need for concerted investment to maximize the value of the nation’s local content development efforts.
He further noted that there is need for the legislature and the executive to begin work towards the actualization of a new and improved Armed Forces through local content development.
“We must also broaden our vision for the Air Force and all our other security forces,” he said. “I strongly believe that if we are serious about developing our security and weapons industry, with a public and private sector driven approach, we can achieve near self-sufficiency by the year 2036. However, we must start now.
“We can achieve this by: Partnering with the private sector to develop our homegrown innovation; Placing a priority on subsidizing the cost of doing business for these industries, and Investing in these sectors during the appropriations process.
“By doing this, we can gradually phase out the old and acquired tools that we currently use, and phase in the new products, processes and services from our local content developers that will not only strengthen our military response capabilities, but also make Nigeria self-sufficient and safer.
“Doing this would allow us to maximize and expand on the new knowledge being developed by our countrymen and women, and begin competing in earnest in international markets by pushing out our own original local content to the world at large. This vision is achievable only if we keep our eyes on the ball and be resilient as a people,” Saraki said.