Nigeria buys main battle tanks, MRAPs, mine clearing vehicles and more

In a bid to reinvigorate the fighting capacity of the armed forces in the face of rising insurgency and widespread kidnappings across the country, the federal government said it procured four ships, 37 aircraft and 35 armoured tanks among other weaponry in the past three years, Kingsley Nwezeh reports on AllAfrica.

Nigeria buys main battle tanks MRAPs mine clearing vehicles and more 2
Typhoon MRAP (Picture source: Army Recognition)

The Nigerian government said the decision followed the realisation that most military platforms and hardware had become obsolete and worn out even as it recruited 30,000 personnel within the period under review. As a strategy designed to curb armed banditry and terrorism, the government also plans intensified military action against terrorists and bandits, citing a United Nations recent data on the proliferation of small arms in Nigeria that held that three million rifles were in the hands of non-State actors.

Presenting a paper at a meeting with Northern Traditional Rulers at the Arewa House in Kaduna, the Minister of Defence, Brigadier General Mansur Dan-Ali, said the government made efforts to provide funds for the acquisition of modern equipment for the armed forces. The minister said some of the equipment was already in service, while new purchases were at different levels of production while some awaited delivery.

He said modern platforms and equipment were required to cope with the present security challenges noting that a large percentage of the nation's weapons stock holding was expended in the fight against terrorism in the North-east. "It is worthy of note that since the outbreak of insurgency in the North-east, the Armed Forces has expended a large percentage of its weapons stock holding in the fight against the insurgents. Hence, the weapon stock of the Armed Forces has greatly depleted. "It is also pertinent to note that budgetary appropriation to the Armed Forces has not been adequate to procure required arms, ammunition, platforms and equipment for the Armed Forces to consolidate on the gains recorded. Hence, the need to source for special intervention funds to address these exigencies issues of procurement for the past 3 years", he said.

Dan-Ali said "the state of the nation's security assets has been of great concern as most of the platforms and hardware of the Armed Forces have become worn out and obsolete. So far, tremendous efforts have been made by this Administration to provide funds for the acquisition of modern equipment for the Armed Forces to confront the current security challenges.

"The equipment and platforms procured include 35 main battle tanks, 25 Typhoon MRAPs, 10 Spartan APCs, 20 Armoured Guard Booths, 5 armoured mine-clearing vehicles, 50 TCVs and 40 Buffalo vehicles, among others for the Nigerian Army. Also, four Ships, 182 Rigid Hull Inflatable and Epenal Boats, four Inshore Patrol Craft, two STAN Patrol Vessels and one Helicopter have been procured for the Nigerian Navy. Additionally, the Nigerian Air Force has benefited from the acquisition of modern platforms with 25 Fixed Wing Aircraft and 12 Helicopters. Several of this equipment is already in service while the new ones being procured are at different levels of production with some awaiting delivery", he said.

The Defence minister cited a United Nations data to the effect that three million rifles were in the hands of non-state actors: "As at date, the UN posits that there are well over three million small arms in the hands of non-state actors in Nigeria. The three million rifles in the hands of militants across the country translate to about 3,866 units using the UN standard of 776 personnel in a standard army battalion. The most worrisome is the fact that most of those weapons are probably more lethal than those in the hands of the security agencies. However, Mr President's relentless and continuous efforts of finding lasting solutions to the security challenges are most appreciated.