WE join other delighted Nigerians in applauding the recent deal between the Nigeria Air Force NAF and the Nnewi, Anambra State-based Innoson Vehicles Manufacturing (IVM) Company Ltd. Under this deal, IVM manufactures spare parts for the Air Force to keep its Alpha Jets platform fully operational in the war against the Boko Haram terrorists in the North East. According the Captain Ayodele Famuyiwa, the NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, the Force would have been made to ground the Alpha Jets had it not been for the gallant efforts of the indigenous motor manufacturer “as no help was coming from outside the country”. The IVM, according to the Air Force Spokesman, helps to modify and overhaul the brake assembly of the MB-339 for adoption on the Alpha Jets.
The significance of this collaborative effort is fundamental. It is a wonderful example and prompter on the need for us as a country to begin to look inwards for solutions to our problems, which we had foolishly depended on external sources to provide for us. We are particularly cheered by the fact that this collaboration is part of the vision of the current Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, to forge strategic partnerships with both government and public organisation for enhanced research and development. At a time when the nation’s economy is suffering from foreign exchange crunch due to worldwide oil glut and the rapidly dwindling value of the Naira against foreign currencies, we must now make self reliance a broadbased national policy.
Nigeria has what it takes to produce most of the things we have been importing from other countries. Innoson is just one of the many local resource platforms that have been neglected in preference for foreign suppliers of manufactured goods, some of them as mundane as toothpicks. This great example demonstrated by the NAF and IVM, if emulated in other areas, will go a long way in reducing the high level of mass unemployment and the prevalence of violent crimes among the restive youth. It is a wonderful way of keying into President Muhammadu Buhari’s agenda of diversifying the economy and creating jobs. We must seize the opportunity provided by the current economic downturn to explore the vast human and natural resource potentials of this nation and turn them to our advantage. The authorities of the Nigerian Air Force deserve commendation for leading the way in looking inwards for solutions as opposed to their predecessors who are being accused of misappropriating funds given to them to source for weapons to defend the nation. No nation ever becomes great by depending on the finished goods of other countries. We must join Innoson and other local manufacturers in saying: “Yes, we can”.