Nigeria will begin local production of uniforms for its military and paramilitary personnel from January 2023, the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) has disclosed.
Currently, Nigeria spends billions of Naira annually importing military uniforms . In 2016, the Nigerian government disclosed that 4.9 billion ($14.1M), at the exchange rate of N305 per dollar. Several experts have over the years decried that Nigeria, the giant of Africa cannot clothe its military despite the potentials that lies within, but choose to seek foreign assistance from Turkey and the likes, adding that the country is losing a lot in foreign exchange and denying its economy the needed growth.
Also, Godwin Emefiele, governor of the central bank had disclosed that Nigeria spends $4 billion annually on textile and apparel import. Nigeria is also said to be the largest importer of military hardware in the sub-Saharan Africa according to available statistics.
As Nigeria is finally set to begin local production, the ICRC in a statement on Monday said the production project is a Joint Venture Public Private Partnership (PPP) between the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) and Sur Corporate Wear to create the Sur Corporate Wear Nig. Ltd.
The DICON Sur collaboration which will span a concession period of 20 years, will be responsible for producing uniforms for the Army, Navy, Air force, Police, Civil Defence and other military and paramilitary organisations.
According to the statement, the Commission’s acting director general Michael Ohiani had in a meeting at the instance of the ICRC, charged all stakeholders in the project to resolve all issues that were hindering the completion of the factory and report back to the Commission in one week.
At the rescheduled meeting chaired by Jobson Ewalefoh, director of the contract compliance department (CCD) in the ICRC, he urged all stakeholders to ensure that the project is completed within the stipulated time frame.
The Director noted that other African countries like Sudan had already begun local production of their military kits, saying Nigeria can achieve the feat with the right support. He added that the project was very important to the nation as it will curb capital flight, create over 920 jobs and will also be a thing of pride for the nation to produce its own uniforms.
Ewalefoh, also pointed out that as the project progresses, the DICON Sur joint venture is expected to begin to source all its raw materials from within Nigeria. “The fact that we produce our military and paramilitary uniforms locally is a pride to all of us. It is a pride that we all must uphold. Sudan is producing their own military kits and I know DICON can do it if they have the right support,” he said.
He assured all stakeholders that the ICRC as part of its regulatory function will liaise with all the relevant government agencies to fast track the ongoing process of securing approval for off takers when production begins in January.
He hinted that going forward; the ICRC through its Contract Compliance Department (CCD) will make the DICON Sure Project a priority and as such monitor its progress until it is completed.
He pledged that the ICRC will continue to intervene to make PPP projects operate smoothly.
Speaking at the interactive meeting, the managing director of Sur Corporate Wear Nig. Ltd., Burhan Can Karabulut commended the management of ICRC for intervening and ensuring that the project was hitch-free. He also extended the commendation of the investors, adding that following the intervention of the ICRC and the meeting of stakeholders that ensued, the investor had agreed to release funds for the completion of the project.
Karabulut said that the company had so far taken the project to 68 per cent completion, adding that the remaining funds for the project will be released soon so as to meet the completion goal.
“If the work resumes in July, it is assumed that we can start commissioning as of January, but this January, the commissioning will not be 100 percent production,” he said. He however said that the designs for the uniforms had yet to be approved and as such the company cannot source its raw materials for production, stressing that without the approval, the production could not begin.