The management of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) and the Airforce Institute of Technology (AFIT) Kaduna have intensified efforts to meet President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive on completion of the first made-in-Nigeria helicopter due for commissioning by May 29, 2023.
Speaking during an official working visit to NASENI’s new Aeronautics and Air Vehicle Development Institute (AAVDI) within AFIT where the project is domiciled yesterday (January 9, 2023) in Kaduna, the executive vice chairman of NASENI, Prof. Mohammed Haruna said President Buhari looked forward to a formal launch of the helicopter before May 29, 2023, which marks the end of the present administration.
During a meeting with Haruna today in Kaduna, the newly appointed commandant of AFIT, Air Vice Marshal Paul Olugbeji Jemitola disclosed that President Buhari was particularly interested in the completion of works on the helicopter during NASENI’s quarterly briefing of the president by the EVC on the activities of the agency last week.
He said the president specifically asked about the ongoing works on the project, stating that President Buhari’s enquiry on the helicopter project was an indication that the president was keen on the need to complete work on the manufacturing of the helicopter.
Responding, Jemitola said that the order from the president “is a task that must be carried out on the completion of work on the project.
“No stone will be left unturned in accomplishing the work and to realise the desire of Mr. President on the helicopter project will be realized.
“In the past, NASENI has been instrumental to the development of many facilities in AFIT in the past while commending the proactiveness and the dynamism with which NASENI now does its work
“AFIT welcomes the challenge by Mr. President, the existing MoU between NASENI and AFIT, as well as the significance of the project, all combined to make the presidential challenge worthwhile,” he said.
Further explaining the significance of AAVDI as an emerging institute under NASENI, the EVC disclosed that “the Aeronuatics and Air Vehicle Equipment Development Institute located at AFIT Kaduna is one of the new institutes of NASENI approved by President Buhari. The institute has the mandate to research and develop spare parts, components and systems of aeronautics and air vehicle technologies. It is mandated to produce both passenger and military aircraft through backward integration. It is the centre of the NASENI helicopter project assembly and the first made-in-Nigeria helicopter now being relocated to AAVDI.”
The visit was for site take over, design and strategisation of the strategisation of commencement of construction work to fast-track the project take-off.
The EVC said the NASENI plan is about “prospecting and domesticating technologies from our counterpart agencies across the world for aircraft manufacturing. We will have pilot plants for realisation here in Kaduna and the facilities will be designed to provide machinery, equipment, laboratories and workshops to be shared with AFIT and the Nigeria Airforce”.
On the second project that was inspected by the EVC, he said that the Federal Government has a plan to develop industrial parks for the automotive sectors in three zones of the country, namely Nnewi (Anambra), Osogbo (Osun) and Igabi (Kaduna).
A statement by NASENI’s deputy director of information, Mr. Olusegun Ayeoyenikan said the project initiative is in line with the concept of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment which initially proposed establishing the Automotive Supplier Industrial Park (ASIP). This concept agrees with the mandate of NASENI for the provision and development of primary and intermediate capital projects required for machine and equipment design, fabrication and mass production, to provide the enabling environment for the sustainable industrialisation of the country.
According to Haruna, the project intended to unlock the opportunities in the auto sector, as well as potential in the manufacturing industry with a view to creating employment and skilled labour in this region and sub-Saharan Africa. It is expected to earn the country foreign exchange and stop the importation of vehicle spare parts. Major vehicle manufacturers from different countries have indicated interest to operate from this facility. Also, it is intended to provide the Nigerian Army Vehicle Manufacturing Company with the necessary support in the production of armoured vehicles. Once fully taken up and equipped, the automotive park will be self-sustaining and becomes a source of revenue for the government.
Some of the agency’s top management staff of AFIT who received the EVC and his team and conducted them around the inspection of AFIT facilities include the provost of AFIT, Prof. Mohammed Dauda; the registrar, Air Commodore E.O Oluokun, as well as deans, directors and heads of departments.