The United States has agreed to sell high-tech aircraft to Nigeria to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East.
United States officials told the Associated Press that the Congress was expected to receive formal notification within weeks, setting in motion the deal with Nigeria.
They added that the arrangement would call for Nigeria purchasing up to 12 Embraer A-29 Super Tucano aircraft with sophisticated targeting gear.
The purchase will gulp about $600m, said the officials. They were, however, unauthorised to discuss the terms of the sale publicly and preferred anonymity on the diplomatic conversations.
The Defence Headquarters, Abuja, at a briefing last week, confirmed that the US was one of the countries that had agreed to help Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram.
The Director, Defence Information, Maj-Gen. John Enenche, said, “It is worthy of note that some countries such as Britain, USA and France among others provided one form of assistance to the military in our effort so far in the North-East. It is hoped that the collaboration would continue to ensure that this evil of terrorism is eliminated from Nigeria and equally degraded globally.”
Our correspondent learnt that although President Donald Trump had made clear his intention to approve the sale of the aircraft to Nigeria, the National Security Council would work on the issue. Military sales to other countries are also expected to be approved, but are caught up in an ongoing White House review.
The AP notes that Nigeria has been trying to buy the aircraft since 2015.
Trump in February called President Muhammadu Buhari on the telephone and assured him of his country’s readiness to cut a new deal in helping Nigeria in terms of military weapons to combat terrorism.
A February 15 White House statement that provided a summary of the call said, “President Trump expressed support for the sale of aircraft from the United States to support Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram.”
The AP notes that the A-29 sale would improve the US relationship with Nigeria, Africa’s largest consumer market of 170 million people, the continent’s biggest economy and its second-largest oil producer.