Nigerian Defence Minister

Nigerian military, presently, kept insisting it has technically decimated the reign of terror launched by Islamic militant group, Boko Haram in parts of North East of the country which began in 2009.  Civilians in thousands have been killed by bombings, assassinations and abductions; while millions of persons have been rendered homeless and impoverished in internally displaced persons camps in the region since 2009.

Boko Haram’s terror attacks escalated significantly in 2014.  With Nigeria’s relatively poorly equipped air force, weak and uncommitted military command structure during that period, not much success was achieved in waging the war against Boko Haram. Nigeria’s request for support from the US to prosecute the war against Boko Haram, including acquiring combat aircrafts met resistance.

US principally failed to support Nigeria. It cited allegations of human rights abuses against Nigerian military, which included extrajudicial killings and summary executions by security forces; allegations of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners, detainees and suspects. Nigerian government denied the allegations.  Yet, US government

US government prevented Nigeria from acquiring attack helicopters and close air support aircrafts that it needed to wage the war against Boko Haram.  At some point, Nigeria’s ambassador to United States was reported to have said that Washington was not helping Nigeria with the struggle against Boko Haram, also that US failed to share intelligence and sell to Nigeria the weapons it needed.

Nigerian government turned to South Africa and Russia for support in the war against insurgent Boko Haram.  South Africa and Russia filled some gaps in the absence of US willingness to assist Nigeria, by providing various logistics supports in the military operations against Boko Haram.

 More meaningful progress was however made when neighbouring countries of Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, who were also under siege by Boko Haram activities along with Nigeria mounted major offensive against the insurgents in early 2015.  Specifically, Nigeria and Chad troops and aircrafts took the lead. This paved way for the 2015 general elections in Nigeria to be held in parts of the north-east region.

Rtd Gen Buhari won 2015 presidential election and was inaugurated Nigerian President on May 29, 2015. One key point of his inaugural address was his vow to crush Boko Haram’s activities, especially, mindless killings of innocent civilians and other inhuman activities in the country.

President Buhari, through strategic changes in the military command structure, breathes fresh life into the battle-front command against the insurgents. It was followed by presidential order to bring Boko Haram menace to an end within limited time. Significant progress has been made by Buhari’s government over Boko Haram insurgents, including the release of over 100 adducted Chibok Secondary School girls.

Latest development has it that United State government has notified Congress of sales of 12 Super Tucano A-29 planes and weapons worth $593 million to Nigeria to wage the war again Islamic militant group, Boko Haram. It involved sales of thousands of bombs and rockets which were originally agreed by former President Barack Obama’s administration.

As required by law, US Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered certification of the foreign military sales to Congress on August 2.  Obama’s administration delayed the defence sales following report that Nigerian Air Force, in January, 2017, bombed a refugee camp that killed between 90 to 170 civilians. But his successor Donald Trump followed up on the defence sales.

The 12 A-29 Super Tucano jets, equipped with wing-mounted machine guns, weapons integration with advanced surveillance, precision-guided bombs, and air-to-air missiles are expected to be used by Nigeria to combat Boko Haram insurgents and other extremist groups, such as Islamic State West Africa splinter group.  They would serve to counter smuggling and other trafficking in Nigeria and Gulf of Guinea.

Super Tucano A-29 cost more than $10 million each. The price varies, depending on configuration. It is made by Brazil’s Embraer. It has a second production line in Florida, in partnership with Embraer and privately held Sierra Nevada Corporation of Sparks, Nevada; and powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 engine.

Similarly, Nigeria and Russia agreed to pursue common programme at intensifying the fight against terrorism in Nigeria and Lake Chad basin region. Col. Tukur Gusau, Public Relations Officer to Nigeria’s Minister of Defence Mansur Dan-Ali, said the agreement was reached at a bilateral meeting between officials of both countries led by Russian Defence Minister, General Sergei Shoigu, and Nigeria’s Defence Minister Mansur Dan-Ali, Wednesday, August 23, 2017, in Moscow.

Gusau said Russian Defence Minister expressed satisfaction with efforts by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to make Nigeria and the region safer. He said Mansur Dan-Ali thanked Russian Federation for its support, particularly in procurement of military platforms and training needs. The two ministers signed a bilateral agreement on military cooperation and training among others.

Nigeria’s Defence Minister, Dan-Ali inspected military platforms at military technical exhibition pavilion in Moscow. Russian media recently reported that Nigeria would be buying 12 Su-30 fighter jets from Russia, two of which have already been delivered. The aircraft has two seats for long-range missions and known for its high maneuver power, and manufactured by the Sukhoi Aviation Company.