Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Nigeria Pays US Govt $496m for Acquisition of 12 Tucano Fighter Jets


The Nigerian government has paid the United States government $496 million for the acquisition of 12 Super Tucano fighter jets to be used by the Nigerian Air Force in the ongoing military operations against the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east.
The Minister of Defence, Brig.-Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd.), made the revelation Monday at the special town hall meeting held for the military and security agencies in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
Dan-Ali said with the payment of the money, the U.S. government will deliver the jets as soon as possible, after accepting the letter requesting the sale of the bomber aircraft.
The Defence Minister, who insisted that the capacity of Boko Haram insurgents to carry out attacks had been completely neutralised, said U.S. President Donald Trump had commended Nigeria’s military strength when they met at a recent security meeting in Saudi Arabia.
The minister recently had expressed concern over the stringent terms given by the U.S. government for the sale of the aircraft, including the non-inclusion of Nigerian military personnel during their manufacture.
However, he did not state Monday if the terms had been renegotiated with the U.S. before payment or if they had been relaxed.
Speaking on the decimation of the insurgents, the minister said: “Gone are the days when our soldiers dropped their rifles and started running from the war front. Our gallant troops have successfully degraded the Boko Haram insurgents.
“Let me make it clear that currently, no single Nigerian territory is under the control of the Boko Haram terrorists. For instance, before the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari, 21 of the 27 local councils of Borno State were under the total control of the insurgents. But today, they are all liberated.
“Currently no Nigerian territory is under the insurgents, while we have freed 30,000 people, mainly women and children held by Boko Haram.”
In addition, he said the government had acquired five units of caterpillar armoured mine-sweepers, new French patrol boats for the Nigerian Navy, and two fighter jets from Pakistan.
He also disclosed that many members of the Civilian Joint Task Force who had participated in pushing back the insurgents, may not be absorbed en masse into the Nigerian Army because of concerns over the federal character principle and other rigid eligibility requirements into the military.
However, the minister’s assertion that the Boko Haram terrorists had been defeated and territories in the North-east completely liberated was challenged by the chairman, Senate Committee on Defence, Senator Abubakar Kyari.
Kyari dismissed the minister’s claim, saying Marte Local Government in Borno, one of the local governments under his constituency, was yet to be liberated from the insurgents.
He said though the army had succeeded in decimating the insurgents, more efforts were needed to ensure the liberation of Marte Local Government Area.
Kyari also hinted that normal socio-economic activities were yet to return in the areas recaptured from the militants, following the restrictions placed by the security forces.
He advocated a review of the restriction on movement placed on the liberated areas so that residents could return and resume their normal lives.
In his remarks, the Bornu State Governor Kashim Shettima, who co-hosted the town hall meeting with the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, commended the federal government and military’s efforts to end the insurgency, but said they should not relent by clearing Sambisa forest of remnants of the terrorists still hiding there.
“Now all the local government areas have been recovered. Suicide bombing is not a sign of strength but weakness by Boko Haram, who are a bunch of lunatics that thrive on cheap publicity.
“The Nigerian military in the past couple of weeks has taken total control of the Sambisa forest; they could not do that in the past three years,” Shettima said. (Thisday)

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