By Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has commended the United States government’s support for Nigeria’s bid to defeat the Boko Haram insurgents in the North-east zone by approving the sale of A29 Super Tucano fighter jets to the Nigerian Air Force.
Saraki was responding to announcement by the Nigeria Air Force on Wednesday that the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Symington had presented Letters of Offer and Acceptance, which represents the official American government’s offer to sell defence articles and services to Nigeria, during a visit to Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sidique Abubakar.
The President of the Senate said the development was a positive indication that the Americans are genuinely desirous of helping to enthrone peace in Nigeria and ending the insurgency in the North-eastern part of the country.
While promising that the Senate would support the plan by the Buhari Administration to purchase high powered security equipment in order to strengthen the armed forces, Saraki recalled that on August 28 when he received an eight-man US Congressional delegation, headed by Senator Christopher Coons of Delaware, the issue of the need to lift embargo on sale of weapons to Nigeria by the United States was a major point of discussion.
“My gratitude and that of my colleagues goes to Senator Coons and other members of his delegation for giving Congressional backing to this arms sales arrangement. They have kept their words and back it up with action. During that visit, they promised they would help to ensure the arms sales embargo against Nigeria was lifted. Now, we can see that they are true partners in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria.
“It is obvious that if the Congress had vetoed the arms sales deal, we won’t be talking of this expected new fighter jets which will definitely help us to finally defeat the Boko Haram insurgents and fully restore the confidence of our fighting force,” he stated.
The President of the Senate further commended Ambassador Symington for demonstrating consistent commitment to helping Nigeria fully restore peace in the troubled North-east zone. “
Since his first meeting with me after he resumed, Ambassador Symington had promised that he would make the lift of the US ban on sale of military hardware to Nigeria one of his priority deliverables. Now, he has shown he is a true partner in Nigeria’s counter-insurgency campaigns,” he added.
He also called on Nigeria’s partners across the world, especially in Europe, to emulate the United States by also supporting the anti-insurgency campaign of the present administration in the country through gestures like sale of arms and provision of assistance towards the rebuilding, reconstruction and rehabilitation of the war-ravaged areas in the North east.
Saraki urged the Buhari administration to move speedily to conclude all the formalities and make payment in respect of the 12 A29 Super Tucano.