Lai Mohammed did not lie; superpowers are not selling arms to Nigeria, but he overstated the fact
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MINISTER of information and culture, Lai Mohammed who recently disclosed that some world powers have refused to sell weapons needed to fight insecurity in Nigeria, may have been telling the truth after all, but he overstated the fact.
Powerful countries such as the United States, Russia, France, and China indeed continue to sell weapons to Nigeria, but the sales have been on a steady decline since the beginning of the Buhari administration in 2015.
The information minister while speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja disclosed that some world powers had refused to sell to Nigeria vital weapons needed to fight against insurgency.
“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, ” he told NAN.
The ICIR also reported the statement made by the minister.
While the claim by the information minister is not incorrect, it is exaggerated.
Records published by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI show that Nigeria has ordered a total of 1, 318 from the United States, China, Germany, France, and Russia, and other countries in the last five years, but taken delivery of only 355 arms.
The list includes 178 aircraft, 92 ships, 65 armoured vehicles, 10 artilleries, 6 engines, and 3 missiles.
The number excludes the delivery taken at the twilight of the Jonathan administration.
SIPRI, established in 1966, is an independent international institute that collects data about conflict and armaments.
According to the Institute, Nigeria has indeed taken delivery of 19 assorted weapons from the United States between 2014 and 2019.
The list includes Alpha Jet-A- Version (4), Caiman APC (16), MaxxPro APC (10), Power Stroke (10) for 90 Spartan APC, VT-400 Diesel engine (25) for 87 Typhoon APC, and ISL Diesel engine for Ara-2 APC.
In fact, six of 12 A-29 Super Tucano aircraft ordered from the USA in 2018 is due for delivery in 2021, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) disclosed on 30 November.
“The A-29 Super Tucano aircraft project is on track to be delivered on schedule and in accordance with the Terms of the Contract. Currently, six of the expected 12 aircraft have been produced and are presently being employed for conversion training of six NAF pilots who are in the USA, along with 26 NAF engineers, technicians, and logisticians, who are also undergoing various training on the aircraft as part of the provisions of the Contract,” the NAF said.
But the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) for SuperTucano aircraft is yet to be delivered.
Indeed, the manufacturing of some military hardware takes years to complete, the reason for pre-order.
Russia, for instance, has delivered 150 anti-tank missiles (9M114 Shturm/AT-6) to Nigeria between 2017 and 2019 out of the 300 ordered for, as well as six combat helicopters within the same period.
Other military weapons delivered to Nigeria during the Buhari administration include six Combat helicopters (Mi-35) and six Mi-171Sh transport helicopters (armed version) from Russia.
Just last week, NAF took delivery of a second Mi-171E helicopter from Russia.
The new aircraft, according to Air Officer Commanding Tactical Air Command (AOC TAC), Air Vice Marshal Olusegun Philip, who received the aircraft on behalf of the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, is the second of two Mi-171E helicopters procured by Buhari administration.
“The new delivery brings to 23 the total number of brand new aircraft acquired since 2015,” the NAF said.
The 23 aircraft include Mi-35M, AW109M, Bell 412 and Super Mushshak types.
The NAF is still to receive three JF-17 Thunder jet fighters and 12 EMB 314/A-29 Super Tucano light attack turboprops along with eight Wing Loong II, CH-3 and CH-4 unmanned aerial vehicles.
The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has also ordered nine patrol craft, FPB series, from France between 2016 and 2019, and six of them have been delivered already, according to SIPRI database.
China has donated a patrol craft to Nigeria in 2015 after selling two P18N OPV at the cost of $42 million between 2014 and 2016.
Also, 120 APCs ordered by Nigeria in 2013 have all been delivered between 2014 and 2015.
Other countries that have sold arms and ammunition to Nigeria during the Buhari administration include Germany and Canada.
While Canada sold 20 APCs in 2015 to Nigeria, Germany sold four MTU-4000 Diesel engines for 2 P18N OPV the same year.
Apart from the superpowers, countries such as Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Ukraine, UAE, Italy, Czech, Serbia, Pakistan and South Africa have also sold arms and ammunition to Buhari government.
Though Nigeria is restrained free access to weapons because of its human rights records, the country only experienced a major arm embargo in 1995 during the Abacha regime. But the ban was lifted in 1999 at the return of civil rule.
The ICIR contacted the information minister on Sunday through SMS and Whatsapp for further clarification but he has not responded as of the time publishing.