U.S. seals deal to sell high tech aircraft to Nigeria to Fight Boko Haram
Few months ago, the US government was pushing forward with plans to sell light aircraft to the Nigerian military to help in their battle against the hardline group Boko Haram. Twelve Super Tucano attack aircraft worth 600 million dollars will be sold to Nigeria, according to US officials.
However, there are still concerns about human rights abuses committed by the Nigerian military such as the accidental bombing in January of a camp for displaced people. Some experts also worry that the Super Tucano is not the best strategic choice in the fight against Boko Haram, nor does it offer the best value for money to the Nigerian government.
Matthew Page, a former intelligence analyst on Nigeria for the US State Department said:
“With the arrival of the Buhari administration, the US government felt a strong degree of pressure to essentially change tact and do something that showed that they were much committed to helping Nigeria fighting Boko Haram… The human rights concerns persist and after the Buhari government came into office, my sense was that the US government essentially wiped the slate clean.”
According to U.S. officials, Congress is expected to receive formal notification within weeks, setting in motion a deal with Nigeria that the Obama administration had planned to approve at the very end of Barack Obama’s presidency.
During Trump’s phone call to President Muhammadu Buhari shortly after the U.S. president was sworn in last January, he had pledged to sell attack aircraft to Nigeria, despite concerns over abuses committed by the country’s security forces. Though President Trump has made clear his intention to approve the sale of the aircraft, the National Security Council is still working on the issue.
Finally, the US has agreed to sell aircraft to Nigeria for its campaign against the armed group Boko Haram. The arrangement has called for Nigeria to purchase up to 12 Embraer A-29 Super Tucano aircraft with sophisticated targeting gear for nearly $600 million. Barack Obama had approved the sale as president but it was delayed after the Nigerian air force bombed a refugee camp in January. The deal comes as the US military hosts a conference of most of Africa’s defence chiefs in Stuttgart, Germany.
However, Military sales to several other countries are also expected to be approved but are caught up in an ongoing White House review. Nigeria has been trying to buy the aircraft since 2015.
In addition, the Nigerian Air Force has been accused of bombing civilian targets at least three times in recent years. In the worst incident, a fighter jet on January 17 repeatedly bombed a camp at Rann, near the border with Cameroun, where civilians had fled from Boko Haram. Between 100 and 236 civilians and aid workers were killed, according to official and community leaders’ counts.
Nigeria’s purchase of the high-tech aircraft from US will allow for a reduction in Boko Haram executions. Right targets during operations will also be normalised. Also, it will enhance the arrest of these terrorists as a result, peace will reign in the country.