Saturday, 20 September 2014

War Against Boko Haram: Nigeria Turns to Russia And China Over Mistrust, Frustration With Western Powers

For many years, Nigeria enjoyed close ties with the West and was seen as a US ally. But the seeming snub or nonchalant attitude towards it by its traditional allies has reportedly compelled Nigeria to turn to Russia and China for the training of its military as well as acquisition of military hardware to fight Boko Haram insurgents.

Highly placed military and intelligence sources in Abuja told Saturday Vanguard that 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.

Already, Nigerian security personnel from the Army, Police, Department of State Services (DSS) have 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.

According to Saturday Vanguard investigations, 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.

A senior security Source told Saturday Vanguard: “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.”
This remark underscored the current lukewarm attitude of both countries to the Federal Government. The USA 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 like. 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.

It was gathered that Nigeria has 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.

President Jonathan recently, at the passing out parade of cadets at the Nigerian Defence Academy, said the
armed forces would set up a Special Forces Brigade to combat terrorism in the country.

  - Vanguard