IT is an unforeseen spinoff from the current spate of violence and insecurity in the country. Several groups of arms manufacturers from 15 countries are due to arrive in Nigeria soon to explore the possibility of producing arms and ammunition.
Director General, Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), Maj.-Gen. Sule Labaran, disclosed this at the weekend during a visit to the Abuja office of the Nigeria Investment Promotion Council (NIPC).
Accordingly, the Federal Government is restructuring the Kaduna-based DICON to make it investors-friendly and better prepared to function in line with its mandate.
DICON was primarily established to produce small Arms and Ammunition for the use of the Nigerian Army and other security agencies.
The corporation also has the mandate to use its excess capacity to produce spare parts for industrial machinery for civil use.
Accordingly, top DICON officials were at the NIPC in Abuja to gain practical knowledge for investment promotion.
Labaran, who spoke with reporters after the meeting in Abuja, stressed that the act establishing the corporation permitted it to operate as a commercial entity.
He said: “It is a pity that over the years, DICON has not been able to do that because of some factors. In the last 4-5 years, government has put a lot of money into DICON to ensure that we function. Government also charged us to look for partners who would bring in money and partner with us to produce equipment for the Armed Forces of Nigeria and for neighbouring countries.
“Interesting, we already have investors on queue who are ready to partner with DICON. In fact, the next 2-3 weeks, we are expected to get delegations from Turkey and about 15 countries that are interested in defence-related issues.”
Labaran added: “For us in DICON to be able to discuss with these people, we need to have some form of human capacity development to put us in proper position. We have operated more like a civil service organisation rather than an investment company that wants to operate and make profit and provide employment for the people. We need to open up, discuss with people who have money to invest. We need to equip our staff with all the tools necessary to attract and attend to investors.”
Assuring that the DICON management had put measures in place to ensure that military items they produce do not get into wrong hands, Labaran stated that due diligence would be done on all prospective producers before any pact was sealed with them.
He disclosed that the corporation had signed an agreement with a company from Israel to produce some military equipment.
Director Finance and Administration, Hassan Sadiq, NIPC, who met with the DICON team, said: “I want to assure you that the NIPC is ready to collaborate with you. Your operation is very important to this country. We are ready to render the assistance you require to be able to execute your mandate. Investors from other countries would be willing to come and invest in this very critical industry. Once such investors come in with their money, there will be an upsurge of economic activities in the military equipment industry.”