By Ejiofor Alike
The federal government yesterday said it needs vital weapons to end the insurgency ravaging the North-east of the country, expressing concerns that delays in getting armaments from world powers were hampering the push against the insurgents.
It said the refusal of some world powers to sell weapons to the country and the delay in supplying those the country had already paid for were undermining its anti-terror campaign.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, while fielding questions when he featured on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja, said he believed the international community could help Nigeria in fighting terrorism better than they were doing now.
He spoke a couple of days after President Muhammadu Buhari had said Nigeria was expecting to take delivery of military weapons and aircraft from Jordan, China and the United States to reinvigorate its anti-terror war.
Buhari had on Tuesday at a virtual meeting with the Security Committee of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), represented by one governor from each of the six geo-political zones of the country urged Nigerians to be patient and not to expect a dramatic change in the ongoing efforts to combat insurgency because fighters and pilots to operate the new weapons and aircraft must first be trained.
The president had also used the opportunity to dismiss assumptions that Boko Haram was better equipped and funded than the armed forces, saying that the military has greater resources to fight the terrorists even though they may need more.
But Mohammed yesterday alleged that some world powers have refused to sell to Nigeria weapons needed to fight insurgency in the country. He, however, did not name the affected nations.
He said: “I want to use this opportunity to say that the international community can help us better than they are doing right now.
“To fight terrorists we need platforms and weapons.
“When the international community is weighed by unsubstantiated arguments to deny the country of vital platforms and weapons to fight insecurity, you cannot turn round to accuse the country of not fighting terrorism.
“Certain world powers have refused to even sell to us certain vital weapons.
“For more than two to three years now, we have paid for certain vital weapons that they have not released to us and they even refused to give us spare parts.
“I think our appeal to them is that they should please help Nigeria to provide us with these sensitive platforms so that we can fight insecurity more effectively.”
According to him, for Nigerians to fairly assess the efforts of the federal government in the fight against insecurity, they should compare where the country was pre-2015 and today.
He said to better appreciate what the government was doing to secure the country, the people should take a global survey to understand that unrest, and terrorism and mindless violence had become a global phenomenon.
“People should recognise the fact that today, people have weaponised the issues of religion and ethnicity.
“We are dealing with extremely unreasonable people, whether in the North-west or in the North-east.
“They should not forget that we are fighting a non-conventional war and at the same time, these people have contacts everywhere,” he added.
Mohammed stated that besides kinetic deployment, the government is using a non-kinetic approach to tackle insecurity like the economy and social intervention programmes meant to empower and engage the youth.