- Nigeria Pays US Govt $496m for Acquisition of 12 Tucano Fighter Jets
The Nigerian government has paid the United States government $496 million for the acquisition of 12 Super Tucano fighter jets to be used by the Nigerian Air Force in the ongoing military operations against the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east.
The Minister of Defence, Brig.-Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd.), made the revelation Monday at the special town hall meeting held for the military and security agencies in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
Dan-Ali said with the payment of the money, the U.S. government will deliver the jets as soon as possible, after accepting the letter requesting the sale of the bomber aircraft.
The Defence Minister, who insisted that the capacity of Boko Haram insurgents to carry out attacks had been completely neutralised, said U.S. President Donald Trump had commended Nigeria’s military strength when they met at a recent security meeting in Saudi Arabia.
The minister recently had expressed concern over the stringent terms given by the U.S. government for the sale of the aircraft, including the non-inclusion of Nigerian military personnel during their manufacture.
However, he did not state Monday if the terms had been renegotiated with the U.S. before payment or if they had been relaxed.
Speaking on the decimation of the insurgents, the minister said: “Gone are the days when our soldiers dropped their rifles and started running from the war front. Our gallant troops have successfully degraded the Boko Haram insurgents.
“Let me make it clear that currently, no single Nigerian territory is under the control of the Boko Haram terrorists. For instance, before the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari, 21 of the 27 local councils of Borno State were under the total control of the insurgents. But today, they are all liberated.
“Currently no Nigerian territory is under the insurgents, while we have freed 30,000 people, mainly women and children held by Boko Haram.”
In addition, he said the government had acquired five units of caterpillar armoured mine-sweepers, new French patrol boats for the Nigerian Navy, and two fighter jets from Pakistan.
He also disclosed that many members of the Civilian Joint Task Force who had participated in pushing back the insurgents, may not be absorbed en masse into the Nigerian Army because of concerns over the federal character principle and other rigid eligibility requirements into the military.
However, the minister’s assertion that the Boko Haram terrorists had been defeated and territories in the North-east completely liberated was challenged by the chairman, Senate Committee on Defence, Senator Abubakar Kyari.
Kyari dismissed the minister’s claim, saying Marte Local Government in Borno, one of the local governments under his constituency, was yet to be liberated from the insurgents.
He said though the army had succeeded in decimating the insurgents, more efforts were needed to ensure the liberation of Marte Local Government Area.
Kyari also hinted that normal socio-economic activities were yet to return in the areas recaptured from the militants, following the restrictions placed by the security forces.
He advocated a review of the restriction on movement placed on the liberated areas so that residents could return and resume their normal lives.
In his remarks, the Bornu State Governor Kashim Shettima, who co-hosted the town hall meeting with the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, commended the federal government and military’s efforts to end the insurgency, but said they should not relent by clearing Sambisa forest of remnants of the terrorists still hiding there.
“Now all the local government areas have been recovered. Suicide bombing is not a sign of strength but weakness by Boko Haram, who are a bunch of lunatics that thrive on cheap publicity.
“The Nigerian military in the past couple of weeks has taken total control of the Sambisa forest; they could not do that in the past three years,” Shettima said.
He singled out the Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj.-Gen. Rogers Nicholas, a non-Muslim of Igbo stock for exhibiting leadership and professionalism in the fight against the Islamic extremists.
Shettima sang the praises of Nicholas, saying he and the state’s Police Commissioner, Tom Chukwu, both coincidentally from Mbaise, Imo State, changed the game in the battle in the war-torn North-east theatre.
“Some of our greatest recent feats in the conflict were done by non-northerners and non-Muslims officers in the military. Most of the soldiers that sacrificed their lives are not of the Kanuri ethnic group,” he said.
He admitted that the Boko Haram insurgency regained momentum after 2016 because of the failure of command at the theatre of war.
Shettima was emphatic that the change of guard at the Operation Lafiya Dole Theatre Command, which saw the replacement of Maj.-Gen. Leo Irabor, who is now at the Multinational Joint Task Force, did not help in sustaining the winning spirit of the troops.
Irabor was replaced by Maj.-Gen. Attahiru Ibrahim, who has also been replaced with Nicholas.
The governor said Ibrahim did not give a good account of himself, as his tenure as theatre commander was greeted with embarrassing attacks on troops and civilians.
Shettima said he was disappointed to observe that the previous commanders, who are from the southern states of Nigeria, did much better than the last occupant of the office who is from the north.
“The last theatre commander who is even a northerner had woefully failed to perform,” said Shettima.
He restated that the replacement of Attahiru with Nicholas was a game changer for the counter-insurgency operations.
“When Gen. Leo Irabor, another southerner, was leaving, he left the Boko Haram insurgents in a degraded state. But the insurgents picked up hostilities shortly after he left,” he said.
Shettima said the recent victories of the military over Boko Haram were as a result of the change of guard at the military command and control centre.
“Some of our greatest accomplishments in the current counter-insurgency efforts were recorded under army generals who are not from Borno and northern Nigeria.
“And what we have recorded in the last six weeks outweighs what was accomplished in the last three years, especially under General Nicholas who is yet another hero of our time,” he said.
Shettima said the current tempo of the fight could only be sustained if the federal government doubles its support for the troops, especially now that the rainy season is over.
“We want the federal government to deploy more resources and sustain the current tempo before the rainy season sets in,” said the governor.
“We need to root out Boko Haram now before the dry Sambisa forest becomes an impregnable fortress for Boko Haram.”
Also speaking at the meeting, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Lt.-Gen. AbdulRahman Danbazau (rtd.), said that the expected first phase of repatriation of Nigerian refugees in Cameroon, Chad and Niger from this month might be further delayed.
He said 80 per cent of the refugees or 80,000 of them were from Borno State.
Danbazzau said a technical committee met with their Cameroonian counterparts two weeks ago to review the development.
“We are working as hard as possible but the first phase of the repatriation which is supposed to be in February may not be possible and may be shifted by the committee.
“Repatriation is voluntary, but we have the interest of the displaced people,” Danbazzau said.
He said the refugees would only return once the military gives the signal that it is safe for them to return to their former places of abode.
Also, former Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, who was at the meeting, criticised the federal government for underfunding the reconstruction of the North-east destroyed by the Boko Haram conflict.
Ndume said over N2.7 trillion or over $7 billion was required for the rehabilitation of the region, noting that donor agencies had provided N230 billion.
He added that the federal government only budgeted N45 billion in the 2017 budget, leaving the Borno State Government to cough up N100 billion for the effort.
He lamented that of the amount appropriated by the federal government, only N10 billion was released last year to the Presidential Council on North-east Initiative (PINE), a development that overburdened the Borno government with the reconstruction efforts.
Sanwo-Olu Orders Full Reopening of Markets
Governor of Lagos State Orders Full Reopening of All Markets
Governor Sanwo-Olu of Lagos has ordered the full reopening of markets in the state after a report showed new cases of COVID-19 have subsided.
The governor ordered the full reopening of both the food markets and non-food markets across the metropolis.
Dr. Wale Ahmed, the Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, disclosed this in a statement issued on Tuesday.
He said the governor took the decision to further deepen trade and commerce and ease the hardship of recent happenings.
It should be recalled that the markets were shut due to the outbreak of ravaging COVID-19 pandemic in March before they were partially reopened for activities in May.
The governor, however, urged all traders to observe all safety protocols in order to prevent a possible resurgence of COVID-19 in the state.
Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) Speaks on Looted Palliatives, Explains Delay
Looted Palliatives: Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) Speaks
Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) has spoken on the recent actions of criminals and thugs who hijacked the #EndSARS protest and looted warehouses where COVID-19 palliatives were kept for distributions.
The group refuted claims that the stolen items were hoarded for certain people instead of distribution to the vulnerable they were meant for. This is despite the fact that some of the palliatives were already rotten by the time criminals broke into the warehouses.
Some of the looters, who spoke with the press, said a sizeable number of the items were already rotten and destroyed by rodents, while one of the lawmakers tasked with distribution claimed he planned to distribute the items on his birthday. A statement that angered many Nigerians.
However, in a statement issued on behalf of the group by Osita Nwanisobi, the Acting Director of Corporate Communications, CBN, on Monday, CACOVID said due to the huge size of the items meant to be distributed, the complex process involved in manufacturing, packaging and the eventual distribution to 2 million most vulnerable families across the 774 local government in the country, the group agreed to conduct the supply in stages, especially given locked down imposed by the Federal Government during the period.
The statement reads, “Members of the Private Sector-led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) wish to call for calm, amidst the looting of COVID-19 palliatives meant for distribution in various State Government warehouses across the country.
“The Coalition is deeply concerned by the recent events and is urging those involved in the wanton destruction of public and private property to immediately desist from these raids, in order to allow the States to proceed with a peaceful and fair distribution of these palliatives to the neediest and most vulnerable in our society.
“Over the past few months, the private sector, through CACOVID has been working with governors, the FCT Minister, and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) to procure, deliver, and distribute these food relief items to almost 2 million most vulnerable families (over 10 million Nigerians) across the 774 local government areas of the country, as part of the private sector’s support towards the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The sheer scale of this nationwide food programme and the timing of the orders and deliveries, which coincided with the lockdowns and reduced movement across the country, compelled CACOVID to roll out distribution in a staggered manner.
“The very large size of the order and the production cycle required to meet the demand caused delays in delivering the food items to the states in an expeditious manner; hence, the resultant delay in delivery of the food palliatives by the state governors.”
Makinde Directs Schools to Reopen After #EndSARS Protest
Schools to Reopen After #EndSARS Protest, Says Governor Makinde
The Executive Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, has directed schools across the Ibadan metropolis to resume normal activities immediately after the #EndSARS protest.
Mr Olasunkanmi Olaleye, the commissioner for education, Oyo State, disclosed this in a statement issued on Sunday in Ibadan.
According to Olaleye, the directive was after a careful review of the situation in the Ibadan metropolis as promised by Governor Makinde in a state broadcast on October 20.
This was after the governor ordered the closure of all schools, private and public, in the Ibadan metropolis for three days and promised to review the situation on October 23.
Olaleye said the governor thanks the youths who have been cooperating with security operatives in the state to ensure peace and order.
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