President Donald Trump of the United States of America is reportedly favorably disposed to selling military aircrafts to the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, as part of effort at boosting the counter-terrorism campaign of the Muhammadu Buhari led administration.
Former President Barack Obama’s administration originally agreed on the sale, but later drew back after some incidents which it considered as human rights abuses by the Nigerian military.
Reports say one of the incidents was the accidental bombing of Rann community where some Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, were taking refuge, leading to the death of over 90 civilians.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, the deal for the fighter jets could be worth up to $600 million, about N184 billion.
The Trump administration wants to push ahead to boost Nigeria’s efforts to fight Boko Haram and bolster hiring in the United States by defence firms.
“We’ve been told that the administration is going to go forward with that transaction,” a congressional aide said.
Formal notification of the deal has not yet been sent to Congress but is expected shortly.
President Trump has said he plans to go ahead with foreign defence sales delayed under Obama by human rights concerns.
NAN also reports that a senior Nigerian military source in Abuja confirmed that the sale would go ahead and said it would also involve training, surveillance and military intelligence “to support … the ongoing insurgency war.”
Reuters first reported the Obama administration’s plan to sell the Embraer aircraft to Nigeria in May 2016, as a vote of confidence in President Muhammadu Buhari’s drive to reform the military.
The Super Tucano fighter jet is powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT six engine and costs more than $10 million each, though the price could be higher depending on the configuration.
Trump’s plan to move ahead with the Nigerian sale was first reported on Monday by the Associated Press.
The U.S. congressional source said rights concerns remain, despite support for the sale from some lawmakers.
There are also questions about whether Nigeria will be able to pay the full $600 million for the aircraft, equipment, training and support.