Kaduna - President Goodluck Jonathan said in Kaduna on Monday that henceforth , the country would not import military equipment that could be produced locally.
Jonathan made the statement while inaugurating a ballistics vest factory complex for the production of military ancillary products at Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON).
The products include personal protection armour, such as tactical ballistic vests (bullet proof vest) and night vision goggle equipment.
The president said the executive arm of government would forward a bill to the National Assembly to amend the DICON Act to give it a global outlook and allow it to export its products abroad.
Jonathan, who wore the rank of field marshal on the occasion, said the Federal Government would give preferential treatment to any local or foreign firm ready to partner and site defence industries in Nigeria.
The ballistics vest factory, situated in Kakuri, Kaduna State, is a result of a joint venture agreement between DICON and an Israeli firm - Marlon Nigeria Limited.
The firm, operating under a Public Private Partnership arrangement as DICON-MARON, is expected to diversify into tactical textile services, offering designing and developing services for tactical textile solutions.
``The new factory, along with new innovations in the navy and air force shows that the military has keyed into the transformation of Nigeria.
``With the commissioning, you must convince me beyond all reasonable doubt that DICON cannot produce any product before such product is imported.
``This commissioning marks the beginning of a vibrant defence industry." the president said.
He urged businessmen not to limit the location of their industries to Kaduna, adding, : "you are free to site your industries anywhere in Nigeria.
``You just have to let us know where you are siting it as it has to do with the security sector. We will encourage people to produce our needs locally."
Jonathan restated his administration's commitment "to creating the requisite enabling environment for local manufacturing industries to grow, become major employers of labour and progressively become globally competitive."
The president urged Nigerians to show patriotism by buying DICON products.
He said the government would soon issue a directive to compel Federal Government agencies to patrionise DICON unless they could prove that the products they needed were not available locally.
"That is the only way we can move as a nation," he said and called on other foreign investors to emulate MAROM-DOLPHIN by investing in Nigeria.
The Minister of State for Defence, Mrs Olusola Obada, said that in furtherance of developing Nigeria's defence industrial base, the Federal Government had entered into a partnership with a Chinese firm to open a new line of production of military goods.
Obada called on the private sector to intensify collaboration with the Ministry of Defence toward the establishment of defence industries.
The Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin, asked the National Assembly to criminalise the importation of military goods that could be produced by DICON.
Petinrin said that all the defence and security agencies must be made to buy from DICON to encourage them to establish more lines of production.
The president was accompanied by the Governor of Kaduna State, Mr Patrick Yakowa, and his Bayelsacounterpart, Mr Seriake Dickson, as well as legislators to inspect DICON-MAROM military products. NAN