Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Nigerian Airforce (NAF) has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with an indigenous oil service firm, Mudiame International Limited, to undertake the maintenance of its aircraft and equipment.
This agreement would cover calibration, welding and non-destructive testing (NDT) of the aircraft and other equipment.
The development according to the parties could result in the NAF and Nigeria drastically reducing huge financial spending on these services to foreign entities. It would also impact on expenditure for importation of expatriates and oversee training by NAF.
According to them, the partnership was aimed at manufacturing equipment locally for NAF and helping other African countries, especially in the areas of oil and gas servicing and domestication of key skills needed in the air force, navy, and allied industries.
They explained that it was expected to advance Nigeria’s local content programme, and came at a time the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) agreed with the Nigerian Welding Institute (NWI) to domesticate over 90 per cent of welding skills, reverse huge financial spending on foreign welding services and fast-track Nigeria’s industrialisation process.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, stated at a recent graduation ceremony for the first set of air force officials trained under the MoA, that the NAF had signed pacts to design local solutions to reduce unnecessary spending on foreign services.
He noted that the partnership with Mudiame, would enable NAF to calibrate its equipment, conduct NDT and weld, thereby kick-starting the force’s centre located in Kaduna with limited or no assistance from external bodies.
Abubakar, who was represented by NAF’s Director in charge of aircraft quality assurance, Air Commodore Cosmas Ozougwu, stated that the force previously took most of its equipment out of the country for repairs and maintenance but decided to look in-ward to build local capacity.
He said: “Our equipment needs a lot of maintenance. Before now most of the measuring equipment were taken abroad for calibration and maintenance at very exorbitant costs but the Chief of Air Staff said as long as we keep using foreigners to maintain our platforms, we will not make any head way.
“These people are not always there when you need them, and we cannot call yourself a nation if we depend solely on foreigners to maintain our platforms.”
According to him: “The choice of Mudiame is the step for us because we didn’t have this level of equipment anywhere else. This development will help save taxpayers’ money.”
The Managing Director of Mudiame International, Mr. Sunny Eromosele, however explained that the firm was an ISO 17025 accredited Nigerian based testing, calibration and inspection company which offered services basically to the oil, gas and allied Industries.
He disclosed that the group was looking forward to addressing the challenges of skills in the air force and navy, adding that it has equally opened up relationship with other African countries to address similar challenges.
Eromosele, also stated that the firm would soon complete a university to close the gaps in demands for skills by the industries it provided services to. He said it will donate equipment to the air force to start its calibration and testing centre.
“This development has a lot of benefits to the country. Apart from the fact that we will conserve a lot of foreign exchange, we are supporting the Nigerian content act, empowering our own people, saving time that is needed to transport equipment abroad and it re-enforces the confidence that these things are doable in the country.
“We started with the oil and gas industry by supporting infrastructure development in the country because in the past most of the certification and training were done outside Nigeria and we find it difficult to find qualified Nigerians to participate in these projects. We lost a lot as country. Now we are making another progress with the Airforce,” said Eromosele.
According to him: “We are aiming at the manufacturing of some of these equipment in country. We cannot perpetually depend on others. We already signed partnership with leading organisations across the world, we have global standard welding institute and we are at the verge of completing Mudiame University.
“With these, we will contribute greatly to other industries, especially the manufacturing and allied industries.”