@ElMagnificento1: The imperative of building local industrial capacity (Y! PolicyHub)

by Fortune God’sSon Alfred

So I hear and read somewhere that the US is stopping Nigeria from acquiring (wrong diction) BUYING certain choice military hardware such as the Chinook, which is said to be a versatile and reliable American twin-engine, tandem rotor heavy-lift helicopter produced by Boeing.

Boohoo! Am I supposed to be mad at the US for stopping Nigeria from getting its product from Israel? Never that! We should suck it in and sulk elsewhere, because the Americans do not give a flying hoot about the whining of the Federal Government and other Nigerians about this. “Why? We thought you are a supporter of the Federal Government?” some would ask.

Well, yeah, I am a patriotic citizen who hates Terrorists of all forms and want the FG to crush them using all means possibly, legally or otherwise. Yet, I don’t see any reason why after over fifty years of political independence, we still depend on other states for almost (if not ALL) our Weapons.

If we were producing our weapons at home, would we have to go through the humiliation of a fellow sovereign state playing house prefect over us? Can the US do same to Brazil, Pakistan, Iran or India?

One of the most important components of military preparedness is self-sufficiency in the supply of your military weaponry. Thus, until Nigeria develops its own Military Industrial Complex/Capacity, we will continue to surreptitiously fly hard currency in jets and subject ourselves to humiliation and embarrassments from countries like South Africa that once looked up to us with admiration and awe. But then, you can’t blame the South Africans for protecting their national interest.

Is anyone blocking North Korea from owning any missile of its choice? No! They make what they want even at the risk of a crippled economy.

In Balance of Power Politics, your ability to independently own instruments of deterrence is vital. So if Nigeria wants to be taken seriously in the international community, we must start producing some of the things we need for our defence. It is conventional wisdom that a wise medicine man will not sell you a charm that has the potential of destroying him. The US is such a medicine man.

Nigeria is blessed with vast human and material resources. So we will not lack the right manpower to achieve this dream -Self-Reliance in Weaponry – if only it is part of the Nigerian Dream in the first instance.

If we were producing our weapons at home, would we have to go through the humiliation of a fellow sovereign state playing House Prefect over us? Can the US do same to Brazil, Pakistan, Iran or India?

Already, we have local people producing local arms. If we truly want to be self-sufficient in this area, we can do it.  However, our history has shown that most times, those in positions of authority prefer to import everything (due to the personal gains they would get therefrom) and kill local industry, rather than spur local production, job creation and stop capital flight. If not, why would Nigerian Governments be importing Korean and Japanese Cars for their Phantom Transport Schemes, when there is Innoson Motors in Nigeria?

They fear that given that Innoson is Nigerian, they cannot steal from Custom Duties and many other hidden charges that inflate the prices of those vehicles. They also fear that if they buy from within Nigeria, somehow, someday, someone who knows someone may know someone that knows someone that knows how much the cars actually cost.

Thus, my state government from the days of Governor Jonathan to the present have continued to buy imported cars as taxis that soon vanish from the few tarred roads of Yenagoa.

It would interest my readers to know that the last set of cabs that were bought in my state were Kia and Hyundai Salon cars. Yet, the heads of the state owned College of Education, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Health Technologies, School of Nursing etc do not have any official cars. Well, let’s move on, the state of the educational sector in Bayelsa State and Nigeria in general will be addressed in a different piece at a different time.

One thing “Kpo-Fire” – Illegal bunkering and illegal Refineries in the Niger Delta – has inadvertently exposed is the ingenuity and industry of the Nigerian mind, when driven by a profit motive.

For years, we were told that refining petroleum products is rocket science. So from the days of General Abacha we started shipping out our raw crude to refine in other countries and return with only 3 to 4 of the derivatives, namely: Premium Motor Spirit, Diesel, Kerosene and perhaps Jet Fuel. It was this same process that lead to the subsidy regime that has become a mammoth of corruption in its own right.

Yet in a short while of ‘criminal ingenuity’ so many illegal refineries that do not need constant Turn Around Maintenance (TAM, please not David-West) sprung up in the creeks of the Niger Delta.

What has been the government’s response to this? “Fire on the hole!!” Burn Baby burn!!!

In a sane society, the good aspects of the “Kpo-fire” industry would have been harnessed for national development. If the so called criminals could construct refineries (call them crude if you may) that the NNPC, with all its engineers with big titles had not done in all its years of existence without foreign support, then shouldn’t simple common sense tell us to keep, study and improve on them?

If the events that followed the outbreak of the Ebola virus in Nigeria have any lesson to teach us, it should be the lessons that : 1. We are on our own when disaster strikes; and 2. When Nigerians get serious and get our acts together, we get the job done.

If we had persisted in our entitlement and victim mentality, folded our hands, expecting the world to come to our aid during this EVD crisis, we would have perished and Nigeria would have been a huge market for the pharmaceutical firms producing Ebola drugs. In fact, by now, after milking Nigeria, they would have come back to give us a little crumb and act like they are being charitable towards us. Nobody owes us anything. We must arise and start finding local solutions to our local problems.

This is the same attitude we have to extend to our Awka made gun manufacturers. We cannot continue to fight on borrowed or hired guns and expect to become a global power.  The best time to start the change towards self-reliance and the emancipation from embarrassment and international harassment is now. Let’s do it.

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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