AFRICANGLOBE – The Nigerian government is repositioning the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) in order to make it more competitive and to attract further orders.
Nigeria’s Vice President Namadi Sambo last week said that once DICON was reformed it would be able to provide equipment to meet all the needs of Nigeria’s armed forces, police and paramilitary forces. He made the comments during Presidential Committee meeting on the Review of the Structure, Operation and Activities of DICON.
Sambo said that the committee is developing a framework to ensure DICON meets is objective of meeting domestic needs. The committee’s task is to ensure DICON fulfils its mandate, cooperates with the private sector, and encourages exports.
Established in 1964, DICON operates an Ordnance Factory in Kaduna, where it makes small arms and ammunition, including assault rifles, machine guns and sub-machine guns. Its Special Vehicle Plant is carrying out the refurbishment and upgrade of Scorpion light tanks, Steyr tracked armoured personnel carriers (APCs) and MOWAG APCs.
DICON was primarily established to produce small arms and ammunition for the Nigerian Army and other security agencies. The Corporation also uses its excess capacity to produce machinery spare parts for industries and other products for civilian use. The company has produced an assault rifle similar to the AK-47 and has also developed 60 and 81 mm mortars.
Defence Industries Corporation’s Potential
DICON remains the only legal small arms and light weapons manufacturer in Nigeria. Despite former President Obasanjo appealing to DICON to meet the arms and ammunition needs of West Africa, DICON continues to suffer under insufficient and inconsistent funding, according to the Jane’s Information Group. However, in November last year the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence and Chairman of DICON’s board, Linus Awute said the company would start production of the AK-47 to deal with Nigeria’s security challenges, which have increased exponentially since the Boko Haram militant group stepped up its attacks.
DICON has partnered with China’s Poly Technologies Incorporated (PTI) in order to develop its defence industrial base, and has sent engineers and technicians to China.
An important partnership was formed with Israel’s Marom Dolphin Nigeria Limited, which specialises in military and security textile products. On January 24 this year DICON and Marom signed an agreement to establish a factory to manufacture bulletproof vests and other military textiles. This public private partnership factory was inaugurated by president Goodluck Jonathan in early July.
“This commissioning marks the beginning of a vibrant defence industry,” Jonathan is quoted as saying at the time. “The nation’s military establishment has effectively keyed into the Federal Government’s Local Content Policy which is aimed at building indigenous capacity in the petroleum and other sectors of the national economy.”
“The new factory, along with new innovations in the navy and air force shows that the military has keyed into the transformation of Nigeria,” the president added.
Jonathan said that the federal government would send a bill to the National Assembly to give DICON a global reach and allow it to export its products overseas. He added that the government would give preferential treatment to local or foreign firms that establish defence industries in Nigeria.