President Goodluck Jonathan would soon meet with President Barak Obama and the British Prime Minister, David Cameroun to discuss why the two countries have refused to sell arms that would empower the Nigerian Military in fighting members of the dreaded terrorist group, Boko Haram.
Vanguard reports that a source within the presidency revealed that the meeting became imperative following the Federal Government’s inability to procure necessary arms and ammunition to fight terrorists in the north eastern part of the country.
The meeting was sparked by the glaring unwillingness of the American and British governments to assist Nigerian security operatives with arms and training, a development that made the federal government recently turned to Russia and China for help with its military requirements.
A Presidential official who did not want to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the matter said American government officials have made several regular public commitments on assisting Nigerian security operatives in fighting terrorism, but revealed that they are not doing anything to help.It was reported that more than 1,000 Nigerian soldiers and other security operatives are in Russia for training by the country’s security personnel.
“Our greatest challenge is that the American government has not only remained unwilling to sell arms to our security services, they have blocked every attempt by this government to procure arms through other means. They do not share intelligence with our security services, they are not assisting our security services substantially,” the source said.
The source stated that the decision to explore the possibility of a face to face meeting between Jonathan and Barak Obama was to enable the Nigerian president to impress it upon his U. S counterpart on the urgency of the needs of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
“We believe that if we are able to have a breakthrough with the American President, things will be better in terms of purchase of equipment for our armed services. We are hopeful that the trend will be reversed if we are able to convince the Americans,” the source said.
It was also gathered that the recent drama between the South African government and Nigerian government over the seizure $5 million allegedly meant for buying arms and military hardware was propelled by pressure from the American government on the South African government not to allow the deal go through.
However, Mr. James Entwistle, American Ambassador to Nigeria has come out to explain that the unwillingness of his government to sell arms to Nigeria is based on the fact that the Nigerian armed forces had been accused of human rights abuses especially in the North East where it is currently fighting insurgency.
Mr. Entwistle, who made this known on Thursday in Yola, the Adamawa State capital said, also disclosed that the American government would only sell or give out arms when she was sure of the purpose it was meant for.
“Before we share equipment with any country, whether it is a government-to-government grant or a commercial sale that requires government approval, we look at a couple of things. Does it make sense in terms of that country’s needs? The second thing we look at is the human rights situation in that country. And as we look at equipment transfers, we look at the situation in those countries in the past few years. As you all know, there have been instances, I am not saying across the board, of human rights abuses by the Nigerian military in the North-east. So the kind of question that we have to ask is let’s say we give certain kinds of equipment to the Nigerian military which are then used in a way that affects the human rights situation. If I approve that, I’m responsible for that. We take that responsibility very seriously,” Entwistle said.
Meanwhile, the US authorities have explained why the Nigerian military had problems procuring arms from America in order to fight insurgency in the North-East.
It would be recalled that earlier the US government was one of the first who expressed its readiness to assist Nigeria in fight against Boko Haram. It also designated Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) on November 14, 2013.