President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday in Kaduna unveiled the Made-in-Nigeria Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles for Nigerian Army’s counter-terrorism and other operations across the nation.
The vehicles named Ezugwu MRAP were produced by the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), in conjunction with the Nigerian Army Command Engineering Depot, and inaugurated by the President at the opening ceremony of the 2019 Chief of Army Staff Annual Conference.
In his speech at the occasion, President Buhari saluted the gallant efforts of the Nigerian Armed Forces in routing terrorists and combating insurgency in the ongoing clearance operations in the North East.
He pledged that his administration will continue to support the military to achieve its goals in addition to prioritising their welfare and that of their families.
Commending the development and production of the Ezugwu MRAP, which is soon to be mass produced by DICON, Buhari said, ‘‘I note the collaborative efforts of the Command Engineering Depot with relevant indigenous organisations to promote local content towards developing our military industrial complex.
‘‘I am glad that the production of Ezugwu Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles which I will be unveiling today will join the infantry patrol vehicles that were earlier produced as testimony that our efforts are yielding positive results.
‘‘Additionally, your efforts in terms of capacity building, training and conduct of exercises are quite commendable.
‘‘I am aware that there are ongoing field exercises such as Atilogwu Udo 1, Exercise Akpatuma 2 and Exercise Crocodile Smile 4 among other civil-military cooperation activities.
‘‘These are impressive efforts geared at enhancing the operational efficiency of the army as well as facilitating a conducive security environment for social, economic activities to thrive.’’
While paying tribute to military personnel who had paid the supreme sacrifice in defending the sovereignty of the country, President Buhari urged the soldiers to abide by the ethics, ethos and code of conduct of the military, while ensuring that human rights and international humanitarian laws are promoted and respected in the conduct of military operations.
Reaffirming his administration’s resolve to do everything within its constitutional power to ensure the security and safety of law abiding citizens, he said: ‘‘This is a commitment we have made and will continue to keep.’
President Buhari commended the laudable efforts of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai in transforming the Nigerian Army saying, “‘He has keyed into the Federal government Change Agenda and I particularly commend his thrust in the critical areas such as innovative and inventive approach to produce military hardware, infrastructural development, restructuring and reorganisations, among others, with significant results particularly in the ongoing counter insurgency operations and other operations across the country”.
While in Kaduna, the President also inaugurated 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna which has been upgraded to a level 4 United Nations hospital to cater for the medical needs of the military and civilian population in the country.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state in his goodwill remarks said the State was privileged to play host to several military formations, units, schools and establishments, adding that this was beneficial in fostering synergy between the military and civilians.
The governor specifically commended the Nigerian Army for their roles in sustaining peace and security in Kaduna State, enumerating their efforts at restoring peace and stability in Southern Kaduna, in addition to decimating the capacity of cattle rustlers and kidnappers operating in the state and its environs.
Gov El-Rufai also lauded the army for playing a key role in confronting the menace of the outlawed ‘El-Zakzaky movement’, which had oppressed the people of Zaria for the last 30 years, as well as various corporate social responsibilities including medical outreaches and infrastructure interventions in Kaduna State.
Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd) thanked the President for his continuous support to the Nigerian Army, adding that the Federal Government would continue to support the military ahead of the final onslaught on Boko Haram in 2020.
‘‘The Nigerian Army has had a hectic year with a lot of operations conducted to secure the territorial integrity of Nigeria. There is a need for a review of activities during this annual conference to prepare for next year’s final onslaught on Boko Haram,’’ he said.
Lt. Gen. Buratai while thanking the President for his wonderful support to the Nigerian Army noted that the current transformation of the Nigerian Army to its current status of a professional, highly motivated, innovative and people-centric institution commenced in 2015 when the President was sworn in for his first term in office.
Buratai disclosed that the conference with the theme “Application of the Cutting Edge of the Nigerian Army in Tackling Contemporary Security Challenges” is aimed at evaluating efforts at achieving the overall objective of better positioning the Nigerian Army to face the task ahead in the year 2020 and beyond.
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