Nigeria, a nation grappling with security challenges from terrorism to banditry, is in dire need of a formidable defence force. This force, however, is only as strong as the equipment and technology it employs. For too long, Nigeria has leaned on foreign sources for its defence needs, a dependence that has left it vulnerable to supply disruptions, price fluctuations, and quality issues.
Our reliance on foreign sources has also stunted our ability to develop our own defence capabilities and innovations, crucial for addressing our unique security challenges. It is in this context that the recent assent of President Bola Tinubu to the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) Bill, 2023, sponsored by Hon. Babajimi Benson, should be seen as a game-changer.
Established in 1964, DICON was designed to be the backbone of Nigeria’s defence industry. Unfortunately, due to underfunding, mismanagement, and obsolescence, its productivity and quality have dwindled. The new bill aims to revitalize DICON by giving it the power to operate and control subsidiaries and ordnance factories, establish the Defence Industry Technology, Research, and Development Institute (DITRDI), provide a comprehensive regulatory framework for the defence sector, and incentivize private capital in the defence sector.
The potential for this bill to transform Nigeria’s defence industry is profound. It promises a vibrant and competitive sector that can meet the needs of our armed forces and contribute to our national economy. By bolstering DICON’s capacity and autonomy, the bill can help Nigeria reduce its dependence on foreign sources, save foreign exchange, create jobs, and foster innovation.
The bill also promotes collaboration and synergy among various stakeholders in the defence sector, including the private sector and academia, stimulating growth in related industries and sectors.
While the assent of the bill is a commendable step, it is not the end of the journey. Its implementation will require the commitment and support of the government, the military, the private sector, and the public.
The government must ensure adequate funding and oversight for DICON and its subsidiaries, and provide the necessary legal and policy frameworks for its operations. The military must patronize and partner with DICON, providing feedback and guidance on their products and services. The private sector must invest and participate in the defence industry while adhering to ethical and professional standards. The public must support and appreciate DICON’s efforts, demanding accountability and transparency.
Nigeria’s vision to become one of the top 20 economies in the world by 2030 hinges on a robust defence industry that can guarantee its security and prosperity. The Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria Bill, 2023, is a step in the right direction, marking the beginning of a new era of defence industrialization in Nigeria.