by Noah Ebije, Kaduna

Executive Vice President/CEO of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Prof. Mohammed Sani Haruna, revealed on Monday why plans to build a helicopter made for the first time in Nigeria have been delayed.

Professor Haruna said the Chinese government’s border closure due to the COVID-19 outbreak affected the training of Nigerian labor in China for the proposed locally-made helicopter.

The NASENI chief had this to say when answering questions from reporters shortly after a courtesy call for the new Nigerian Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) Commander, AVM Paul Jemitola, to take over the airfield equipment development institute. Aeronautics and Air Vehicles as well as inspection of construction work in progress at the Agency’s Automotive Suppliers Industrial Park project, Kaduna.

Earlier in the courtesy call, the AFIT Commander expressed his enthusiasm for the collaboration with NASENI and promised to maximize the benefits of the collaboration for the betterment of all stakeholders.

According to Prof. Haruna, “The first helicopter project done in Nigeria, the permanent site has been shown at AFIT, the project itself has been developed here in Kaduna. So far the project is about assembling. So far we have assembled two helicopters. However, it is still ongoing to have the first helicopter made in Nigeria with everything made locally. We are committed and have trained the right manpower so far, however we do have some challenges because only recently have the Chinese opened their borders as a result of COVID 19 and that has affected some of the plans that have been prepared and delivered. to them to manufacture for us, so the training of some of our experts in China has been delayed due to these challenges. In general, the president will continue to commission whatever is on the ground before he leaves office.”

In his speech at the courtesy visit, the head of NASENI reported that “the manufacturers of this type of vehicle must be able to have a location in the park and produce the spare parts here so that in the process of doing so, employment is generated. , it will lead to some acquisition of technology because if local labor is used to do manufacturing, people will learn and acquire technical knowledge and also be able to have paid employment. The most important thing is that we will have foreign exchange reserves regardless of how much we are consuming. There are so many vehicles in the country and from time to time their spare parts are entering the country.
And that’s a lot of currency. Therefore, it is necessary to produce them locally. It is possible to launch it in March of this year.

“The Aeronautics and Air Vehicle Equipment Development Institute located at AFIT Kaduna is one of the new institutes of NASENI approved by President Muhammadu Buhari. The institute is mandated to research and develop spare parts, components and systems of Aeronautics and Air Vehicle Technologies. It is mandated to produce passenger and military aircraft through backward integration.

“Prospecting technologies for the domestication of our counterpart agencies around the world for the manufacture of aircraft will have pilot plants for their realization here in Kaduna by the grace and will of God.

“The facilities intended to be provided; machinery, equipment, laboratories and workshops will be shared facilities with AFIT and the Nigerian Air Force.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria has planned to develop industrial parks for the Automotive sectors in three areas of the country: Nnewi – in Anambra State, Osogbo in Osun State and here in Igabi – Kaduna State. The initiative of the project is in line with the concept of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Investments that initially proposed to establish the Industrial Park of Automotive Suppliers (ASIP) in these three localities of the country for the technological evolution in the automotive sector.

“This is in line with the NASENI mandate for the provision and development of primary and intermediate capital projects necessary for the design, manufacture and mass production of machines and equipment, in order to provide the enabling environment for the sustainable industrialization of the country. The project is being supervised for NASENI by the Kano Hydraulic Equipment Development Institute (HEDI), a NASENI institute for the Agency.

“The project aims to unlock the opportunities in the automotive sector, as well as the potentials in the manufacturing industry in order to create employment, skilled labor in this region and sub-Saharan Africa. It will obtain foreign currency for the country and will stop the importation of spare parts for vehicles. The main vehicle manufacturers from different countries have shown interest in operating from this facility.

“It is also intended to provide the Nigerian Army Vehicle Manufacturing Company with the necessary support in the production of Armored Vehicles. Once fully installed and equipped, the fleet will be self-sufficient and a source of revenue for the government.

“In the first phase of the project, the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning earmarked three billion two hundred and fifty million naira (N3,250,000,000) to take over and we thank the Honorable Minister for the commitment and interest in the project.

“We are equally grateful to Malam Nasir El-Rufai, the Executive Governor of Kaduna State for the allocation of fifty (50) hectares of land and his magnanimity in granting waivers of all legal land title fees.

“We also thank the Nigerian Air Force for the collaboration and the provision of adequate surveillance and security at the site since the beginning of the construction works.

“The work in phase one of the project that includes the perimeter fence, the construction of the information and communication building, the construction of the Advanced Manufacturing Technology (AMT) workshop, the construction of Automotive Parts, points of sale and services are all above eighty-five percent (85%).

“Completion of phase one of the project within the next few weeks will allow for commissioning and start of operation that can run concurrently with development work on phase two of the project.”

He recalled that the Executive Vice President of NASENI and his team were at AFIT on June 21, 2022 as part of the Agency’s preparation to move the first Nigerian-made helicopter project to the Institute as directed by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. , President Mohammed Buhari. .

However, Monday’s visit was scheduled to follow up on his previous visit due to the witness change at AFIT, and also served as a courtesy call on the new Commander.