On Monday, December 21, President Muhammadu Buhari said he regretted that the procurement of equipment for the nation’s Armed Forces, which hitherto had followed due process under successive governments, got stuck in the murky waters of corruption under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
He, however, said his administration was taking urgent and appropriate actions to restore sanity, due process and probity to the arms procurement processes.
Buhari said this while receiving the British Secretary of State for Defense, Michael Fallon, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
“They [officials of the last administration] just put foreign exchange in a briefcase and traveled to procure equipment for the military. That is why we have found ourselves in the crisis we are now facing,” a statement by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, quoted the President as saying at the meeting held behind closed-doors.
Welcoming the offer by the British Government to assist Nigeria in defense equipment procurement, intelligence gathering and training, Buhari restated his conviction that the international community must collaborate more and work with greater unity of purpose to overcome global terrorism.
The President added, “terrorism has become very sophisticated. If developed nations can be attacked, and hundreds of lives lost, how much more can developing countries?
“In the West African sub-region, Nigeria is the main battleground of the Boko Haram insurgency. We have made a lot of progress against the terrorists, but we will welcome more assistance from our friends and the international community.”
Fallon told the President that he was in the country to see what more Britain could do to support Nigeria in battling terrorism and violent extremism. “Groups like Boko Haram don’t believe in democracy and freedom of choice; so it’s a common fight for us all,” he told Buhari. Fallon later told State House correspondents that about 130 British military personnel were currently helping to train Nigerian soldiers.
He said by 2016, the British government was ready to send more than 300 personnel to train Nigerian soldiers.
“For this year, for example, we have about 130 military personnel here helping to train the Nigerian Army. “Next year, more than double, more than 300 are coming to offer training and particularly to improve the Army’s resilience to IEDs, obviously that had been left behind by Boko Haram,” he said.
Fallon added that his government wanted to do more to help the nation stabilize affected areas once the terrorists had been driven out.The secretary of state stated that the process would involve sustaining the victims with not only rehabilitation but economic development. He added that security would be provided for victims to go back to their villages, with the knowledge that they needed to be protected and the infrastructure at their hometowns would be repaired.
“We discussed what we can do to help Nigeria to deal with this country’s insurgency. Britain and Nigeria have democracy, they are free people.
“Boko Haram and its way of life need to be defeated. So we have been discussing today what we can do to help Nigeria step up in the area of full training on how to deal with improvised explosive devices and what can be done to improve the intelligence you need to deal with terrorism,” he added.
The Minister of Defense, Monsur Dan-Ali, told reporters that the issue of IEDs was the most difficult area of the insurgency.
(Source: The Punch)