By Maazi Obinna Akuwudike
I watched with shame, when our military chiefs and politicans were snapping pictures with a 2003 Brazilian turbo propeller, light attack A- 29 Super Tucano aircraft.
This is an aircraft that failed testing in the United States, and they shipped it over to us as we are seen to be only fit for substandard products.
And for one of these aircrafts, our bigwigs are acting like children and taking pictures in front of the aircraft. It was very shameful to me as a Nigerian, when I know we have all it takes to build our own aircrafts, but political, sectional and religious sentiments which our leaders have buried themselves in, will not allow them think about the growth of this country.
While we are snapping pictures and celebrating over one aircraft, Egypt bought 26 Sukhoi Su- 35 fighters. What about Algeria that bought Su- 30MKAs to replace their MIG- 23s? In the top ten countries with aerial military strength in Africa as recorded by Military Watch, Nigeria didn’t make it. Yet we claim to be giant of Africa. What a pity.
Nigeria’ s arsenal of aircraft include the 1973 Alpha jets which were discontinued in 1991, the Chinese made 1965 Chengdu F- 7PG which was discontinued in 2013, the 2003 JF- 17 Thunder which we have 3 of them, and now the Tucano. It becomes shameful that Nigeria celebrates over propeller jets, rather and actual jet fighters.
The Alpha jets was so obsolete that there were no spare parts that it took Innoson Motors, to produce spare parts that kept those aircrafts flying.
In ground warfare, the Igirigi MRAP and the Ezugwu APC are innovations of an Igbo man, while Innoson IVM G- 12 has become our new General Purpose Vehicle, saving us the cost of importing discontinued Pinzgauer and Haflinger from Poland and Austria.
In Lagos you see Proforce producing solid MRAP and APCs for our police and armed forces.
Go back to the Nigeria/Biafra Civil War, where the Biafrans produced their APCs, tanks, guns and ammunition amongst others, and held off a superiorly armed Federal forces for three years.
The mistake of today started then when those engineers should have been harnessed rather cast aside. With all that, we should have learnt our lessons.
Yet all our leaders seem more interested in, rather than trying to live up to that title of giant of Africa, is to fight over movement of cattle.
Right now, the problem of this country is not about how we can surpass others economical or militarily, but how to open grazing routes for cattle. Are we not ashamed of ourselves? If you’ re not, I am.
We refuse to support these people, who have shown the capacity to do more, either because they are not from our political zone or from a different religious beliefs. Yet we are One Nigeria working towards the ” Growth” of the country.
What a pity. Even combat drones armed with machine guns and missiles, the giant of Africa does not have, yet South Africa has them. Soon we may not even be able to stand Ghana or Benin Republic in warfare. It’ s really unfortunate and yet we have no shame about it.
I wish to urge our leaders if they would listen, to take a step back and return to the drawing board. Aides and assistants who are not thinking in line of real development, should be offloaded while progressive thinkers are brought on board.
To be told that Nigeria’ s problem today, which is threatening the very existence of the nation rotates around cattle rearing is something even those behind it should be ashamed of themselves.