By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
In response to the insecurity in the country, the Senate has passed second reading a Bill seeking to establish Defence Research and Development Bureau, as a measure to strengthen national security.
The Bill, sponsored by Senator Abubakar Kyari (APC Borno North), proposes the realistic defence policy for basic and applied research on defence items and equipment.
Senator Kyari, while leading debate on the Bill, said when passed, it would strengthen the overall Nigerian security mechanism using the nation’s defence assets.
He added that it was also meant to initiate and coordinate the scientific, technological and environmental research activities of the Armed Forces.
The lawmaker said that the ability of any country to wage war depended on the degree of technological wealth in the country, adding that this should be seen to be adequately developed and functional.
Senator Kyari decried a situation whereby Nigeria Armed Forces depended heavily on the importation of military technology, both hard and software.
“This over dependence on procurement of military equipment from foreign countries is detrimental to the development of the country.
“It constitutes a continuous drain on the nation’s scarce foreign exchange and fundamentally compromises security”, he stressed.
He therefore emphasized the need to establish the bureau to initiate, collaborate and coordinate all activities relating to military research and development as well as provide the strategic direction for the actualisation of the military industrial complex and by extension self-reliance in defence and security needs of the Armed Forces.
In his contribution, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce (PDP Bayelsa East) said “there was no need for Nigeria to buy bullets, we can make bullets, there is no need to buy grenade, we can make it”.
“The military industrial complex well-funded, developed by Nigerians for Nigerians will guarantee our fight against insurgency,” he said.
Similarly, Senator Victor Umeh (APGA, Anambra Central) said “without research we will not be able to make any progress in this country”.
“Nigeria can invest money to develop its armament with which to defend this country. We need to invest in this type of research and development so that Nigeria can be competent and capable to defend and protect itself”, he said.
In his ruling, the Deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over plenary, said “we have had reasons in Nigeria to set up industries and research institutions”.
“They all end up the way they came. I believe that this will not go the same way. To think that Nigeria was buying arms or sourcing arms from any other African country to fight insurgency, it was very embarrassing.
“I think we should be leaders in Africa not only in terms of our population but in technology, in democratic practices, in armament and others”, he said.