The battle against Islamist sect Boko Haram has stretched the Nigerian military, prompting it to ask for help from its Western allies, especially after the Chibok girls were abducted, but the nonchalant attitude of the West may be pushing Nigeria towards Russia and China.
It has been more than 100 days since the allies promised support in the rescue of the Chibok girls who were abducted from their school on April 14. While it was reported that they were helping with intelligence, no concrete results have surfaced. While many have blamed Nigeria’s military for incompetence and the government for lackadaisical attitude, the allies seem not to be doing enough to help the country fight insurgency, it has emerged.
Nigeria has now turned to Russia for the training of its military as well as acquisition of military hardware to fight Boko Haram insurgents.
According to highly placed military and intelligence sources in Abuja who spoke to Saturday Vanguard, the decision to turn to the other two world military powers was an interim measure to roll back the military advances made by the Boko Haram insurgents who have gained some grounds in seizing and controlling some towns and Villages in the north eastern states of Borno and Adamawa.
Nigerian security personnel from the Army, Police, Department of State Services (DSS) have already been dispatched to Russia for training as Special Forces to combat the Boko Haram insurgents who are mounting stiff challenge to the Nigerian security services.
Vanguard also learnt that following the increasing sophistication of the Boko Haram terrorists, the Nigerian government approached American and British governments to procure arms for its armed forces in order to effectively counter the insurgents but the two western governments have continued to dither, a situation that may have been responsible for some of the gains recorded by terrorists in recent times.
“The United States and Britain appear unwilling to provide arms to our armed forces. It is surprising because these are two friendly countries to Nigeria which is under threat from terrorists. We have no option but to look somewhere else for our needs pending when the issues are resolved at the diplomatic level by our government,” a source told Vanguard.
The United States had said that it would not assist Nigeria with land forces and would not also share intelligence with the Nigerian military. Sources said that they did not trust the Nigerian military which was accused of lacking professionalism and which also had moles within. But Nigeria expected better assistance from USA, Britain and the likes. But their support has fallen below expectation.
Saturday Vanguard gathered that one of the options was to turn to Russia which has always been willing to supply weapons and some other logistics to Nigeria when other western countries are not forthcoming. The Nigeria Air force has several Russian fighter jets in its fleet.
Nigeria was said to have entered into contract with Russian Arms manufacturers for the supply of high calibre weapons to the Nigerian Army to combat the insurgents in the North east and has begun discussion with the Israeli government on possible supply of military hardware.
“When the Chief of Army staff said recently that the Nigerian army would soon take possession of weapons that would reverse the trend in the North east, he was referring to the deal between Nigeria and some Russian arms manufacturers. We are also in discussion with Israeli companies. We don’t want to be held ransom by our traditional allies. That is why we are expanding our sources of supply,” the source said.
As part of the agreement between Nigeria and Russia, a group of Nigerian security personnel are already in Eastern Europe for training as Special Forces with another batch, made up of the Army, Police and DSS billed to leave Nigeria next month to join the other three batches that are already in training. [Vanguard]