Kingsley Nwezeh examines the unprecedented massive procurement of military equipment by the outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to boost the fighting capacity of the Nigerian Armed Forces
More than any other time since the return of democratic rule in 1999, the Nigerian Armed Forces received more equipment and increased weaponry from the federal government during the outgoing administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The procurement of more and advanced equipment was designed to contain the spiralling security challenges as the nation battled insurgents, bandits, rogue herdsmen, unknown gunmen, and oil theives in multiple theatres of operation, a situation that claimed over 100,000 civilians and security personnel in 14 years.
Nigerian Air Force
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) acquired 38 aircraft since President Buhari assumed office in 2015.
It procured 12 A-29 Super Tucano fighter jets, 10 Super Mushshak fighter planes, five Mi-35M attack helicopters, four Augusta 109 helicopters, three J-F 17 Thunder jets, two Bell 412 helicopters, and two MI 171-E helicopters.
NAF is also expecting 36 new ones, including 12 A-H1Z and 24 M-346 attack helicopters.
Also, for the first time in its history, under the Buhari’s administration, the NAF conducted in-country Periodic Depot Maintenance (PDM) and avionics upgrades of some of its platforms.
It also improved the serviceability status of NAF platforms to from 35 percent in 2015 to 70 percent in January 2023.
NAF also created a Special Operations Command (SOC) and Ground Training Command (GTC).
The Nigerian Navy
The Nigerian Navy also acquired more than 400 platforms since 2015. They include: 200 Riverine Patrol Boats and 114 Rigid Hall Inflatable Boats (RHIBs).
It also procured 22 fast attack boats, 14 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles otherwise known as drones, 14 house boats, 14 River Town Boats, 12 Manta Class/Inshore Patrol Craft (IPC), three Whaler Boats, four helicopters, and four Barges/Tugboats.
Others include: 14 House Boats, two Seaward Defence Boats (SDB) and four Capital Ships.
In line with the president’s directive, the Nigerian Navy has established a naval base in Lake Chad, Baga, Borno State.
It also received presidential approval for new naval bases in Lekki, Lagos State, Oguta, Imo State and Kano, Kano State.
A naval doctrine command was also established.
With the improvement in the capacity of the Nigerian Navy, the International Maritime Bureau reported that 2021 saw the lowest number of piracy attacks in Nigerian waters.
The Nigerian Army
The Nigerian Army also acquired hundreds of new equipment, including VT-4 main battle tanks, SH2 and SH4 battle tanks, MRAPS, ARRV and Mine Sweepers, Infantry fighting vehicles, and self-propelled howitzers.
Other acquisitions by the army include armoured fighting vehicles,
mountain climber bikes, STI light tanks, among others.
Recently, the Nigerian Army acquired 700 troop-carrying vehicles all assembled in Nigeria.
Two new army divisions (6 and 8 Divisions) were also created to cover new frontiers.
The Nigerian Army also created the cyberwarfare commands and Land Forces Simulation Centre (GSC) in Abuja borne out of an alliance between it and the National Information Technology Development Institute (NITDA).
The army is also involved in ongoing operations nationwide. They include: Operations Hadarin Daji, Hadin Kai, Lake Sanity, Desert Sanity, Safe Heaven and Whirl Stroke.
The Nigeria Police
A presidential communication on the key achievements of the President Buhari-led administration had noted that on June 24, 2019, the president signed into law the Nigerian Police Trust Fund Bill establishing the Nigerian Police Trust Fund (NPTF) to mobilise financing and resources to equip the Nigeria Police.
President Buhari had established a police reform technical committee in the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President to coordinate police reforms.
The president also approved the recruitment of police constables.
The recruitment is ongoing in tranches of 10,000 recruits. So far, 20,000 constables have been recruited while the recruitment of the third batch of 10,000 is ongoing.
The Nigerian Police also launched a new national command and control center in Abuja.
Three months ago as the general election drew closer, President Buhari commissioned a total of 127 operational vehicles for Nigeria Police.
They include: Toyota Hilux Pick Up vans, Zahab Classic Pick Up vans, Mikano Rich-6 Pick Up vans, Anti-Riot Water Cannons, Armored Personnel Carriers (APC), Toyota Land Cruiser Prado Jeeps, Toyota Coaster Buses, Toyota Hiace Ambulances, Mikano Trucks, and Crowd Control Barriers Vehicles.
In the same vein, a cache of arms, ammunition, riot control agents such as tear gas, tasers, stun guns, pepper sprays, bulletproof vests, helmets, and other personal protective equipment procured by the police were also commissioned.
The equipment which included operational vehicles, crowd control and anti-riot gadgets, high capacity desktop and laptop computers were acquired to ensure proper enforcement of electoral laws and seamless electioneering process and stabilising the public space before, during, and after the 2003 general elections and for the purpose of enhancing the capacity of the police to manage civil disorder in line with acceptable national legal framework and global law enforcement protocols.
The Nigeria Police Trust Fund had, in 2021, donated the controversial N11 billion worth of equipment to the Nigeria Police.
About 120 out of the 200 Buffalo vans procured by the NPTF were inspected by the government officials.
Speaking at the inspection, the then head of the agency, Ahmed Sokoto, said that the NPTF had also taken delivery of police operational vehicles, security and medical equipment amounting to N8 billion as part of the N11 billion equipment already purchased.
“The 200 buffalo vans cost NPTF over N7 billion. So far, NPTF has received 120 out of the 200 vehicles procured, the remaining vehicles will be delivered sooner than later.
“The vehicles are well equipped and rebranded. However, some others are still undergoing rebranding to reflect NPTF colours and logo,” he reportedly said.
Some equipment inspected at that event were 190 ballistic helmets and 640 pieces of bullet proof vests procured by the fund under the 2020 intervention.
Sokoto stated that 640 pieces of bullet proof vests and the 190 helmets cost the NPTF over N435 million.
The equipment was later dogged by allegations that most of it were sub-standard. The matter later ended up at the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency
Under the Buhari-led administration, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) had in 2021 launched Nigeria’s new National Drug Control Master Plan 2021-2025.
Between 2021 and 2022, the agency arrested 24,000 drug traffickers and 29 drug barons and ensured the conviction of 3,400 offenders.
The NDLEA also seized more than 5,500 tons or 5.5 million kilogrammes of assorted illicit drugs.
The value of drugs seize d amounted to N450 billion while 772.5 hectares of cannabis farms were destroyed.
Overall, the government’s efforts aimed at boosting the arsenal of the armed forces improved the capacity of the security forces, contributing significantly to the surrender of over 100,000 insurgents and their families in the North-east and the renewed determination of the security agencies to contain security challenges facing the nation.
Conversely, available security data shows that out of the of the 6.5 million small and light weapons in circulation in Nigeria, only 450,000 are in the hands of security forces, a situation that forced government to establish a weapons center for the mopping up of small and light arms.
In spite of these efforts, the slaughter of innocent women and children by herdsmen is yet to be contained. The herdsmen are still on rampage.
It is expected that the incoming administration will demonstrate act of good faith in tackling the menace of foreign herdsmen who invaded and sacked many Nigerian communities.