President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated 700 Ashok Leyland troops-carrying vehicles for the Armed Forces of Nigeria on Friday.
The inauguration was done virtually.
Buhari said the procurement of the vehicles was in response to the prevailing security challenges bedeviling the nation.
He said the vehicles were assembled locally by Stallion Motors for the armed forces, saying it marked a milestone in the annals of the Nigerian military, especially as troops were engaged in operations in various theatres.
He said the procurement was a demonstration of his commitment and the importance the government attached to the fight against insecurity in the overall safety and security of the country.
According to him, insecurity is not peculiar to Nigeria as it had impacted negatively on global, regional and sub-regional peace and security.
It has given rise to massive continental immigration, internally displaced persons and great humanitarian crisis across the world, he noted.
“Consequently governments had employed varying degrees of hard and soft power elements to tackle the evolving insecurity.
“As a country, we are very proud that in the first 10 years, we have been able to revitalise our armed forces for the full restoration of Nigeria’s territorial integrity that was once violated by Boko Haram insurgents and other forms of criminality.
“Some of you may recall that in my inaugural speech as president, I promised to put an end to Boko Haram insurgency, which hitherto had posed a grave threat to Nigeria’s territorial integrity.
“In fulfilling this promise, I made professionalism and capacity building of the armed forces, a major security thrust of this administration.
“Training and acquisition of brand new platforms and other supporting equipment for the armed forces of Nigeria and other security agencies were intensified.
“The procurement process of military hardware was simplified, thereby reducing inefficiency and corruption and adequately improved our military so that they could effectively discharge their constitutional responsibilities,’’ he said.
The president expressed confidence that the newly-acquired vehicles would increase the capacity of the armed forces, thereby adding to the conduct of security operations.
He charged the armed forces to consolidate on the gains they had achieved towards sustained peace and stability in the country.
The president also commended the armed forces for the resolve to defeat insurgency and the supportive roles in maintaining law and order as was demonstrated in the just-concluded presidential and National Assembly elections.
“I want to assure you all that this administration will continue to support you in every respect, including improving troops’ welfare and those of their families.
“The Federal Government remains, steadfast and committed to winning the war against insurgency and other criminalities,’’ Buhari stressed.
In his remarks, Minister of Defence, retired Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi, said the procurement was another significant milestone amongst many initiatives of the Buhari administration in repositioning the nation’s military to tackle contemporary security challenges.
Magashi said Nigeria had been facing myriad of daunting security challenges, such as insurgency, militancy, kidnapping as well as cattle rustling and banditry in several parts.
He said the security challenges had been confronted with a lot of zeal and professionalism through the transformational reforms of the current administration.
According to him, the transformation process has been anchored on three pillars of capacity building, restructuring/reorganisation and troops’ welfare.
“It is worthy of note that the process of transforming the armed forces over the years has not been easy given the numerous multi-dimensional security and economic challenges facing the country.
“Notwithstanding this, the current administration has security as a priority in its agenda, hence the need to equip the armed forces with all necessary platforms to ensure peace and security.
“Very importantly, this administration is cognisant of the significance of troops and logistics mobility for effective operational efficiency.
“It is worthy to state that this project was initiated by the Office of the National Security Adviser in 2014 for Messrs Stallion Motors Ltd to supply 50 buses and 700 troops-carrying vehicles to the armed forces.
“Notably, the company delivered the 50 buses in February 2015 while the 700 troops-carrying vehicles were retained due to some administrative errors in the contract.
“Consequently, the ministry constituted a team led by the Permanent Secretary, Dr Ibrahim Kana, to interphase with the company to resolve all pending issues as well as facilitate the delivery of the vehicles,’’ he said.
The Permanent Secretary in his remarks said it became imperative to think inward and to provide local preventive and protective mechanisms to fortify the nation’s critical assets, formations and borders.
Kana said the engagement of an indigenous company was hinged on Federal Government’s conviction to uphold President Buhari’s desire to promote the utilisation of indigenous technology as enshrined in the Executive Order 5 of 2018.
He said the thrust of the E05 was the recognition of the vital role of science, technology and innovation in national economic development, particularly in the area of promoting Made-in-Nigeria Goods and Services.
According to him, the procurement of the made-in-Nigeria Ashok Leyland Troops Carrying Vehicles is one of such efforts made by government to encourage local companies in their efforts to manufacture equipment needed to fight insurgency.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari and the Chief Defence Staff, Gen. lucky Irabor were physically present at the inauguration.
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