According to media reports, the United States government has concluded plans to sell 12 Embraer A-29 Super Tucano aircrafts, with sophisticated targeting gear to Nigeria to aid its fight against Boko Haram terrorist group.
This is in fulfillment of the pledge made by that country in February this year to strike a new deal that will enable the Nigerian Armed Forces get concrete military assistance, including the supply of arms from the U.S. to combat terrorism.
Recall that the U.S. President, Donald Trump, had called President Muhammadu Buhari who was on vacation in the United Kingdom on telephone to discuss the relationship between the two countries, including America’s resolve to assist Nigeria in combating terror.
The deal is also said to be in furtherance of the plan that began during Obama’s administration.
President Trump is expected to send formal notification to the Congress within weeks, informing the lawmakers of the plan to sell the aircrafts to Nigeria.
The arrangement will call for Nigeria to purchase up to 12 Embraer A-29 Super Tucano aircrafts with sophisticated targeting gear for nearly $600 million, one of the US officials reportedly said.
While President Trump has made clear his intention to approve the sale of the aircraft, the National Security Council is said to be still working on the issue.
According to Los Angeles Times, Military sales to several other countries are also expected to be approved but are caught up in an ongoing White House review.
Nigeria has been trying to buy the aircraft since 2015, but the Nigerian air force had been accused of bombing civilian targets at least three times in recent years.
Under the Obama administration the United States government refused to sell arms to Nigerian military fighting the Boko Haram terrorists in the North East of the country. The U.S. cited human rights violations in Nigeria’s military operations in the North East. It was under this difficult condition that the Nigerian government under the leadership
of President Goodluck Jonathan was forced to look elsewhere for arms to fight the insurgents. At a point, Nigerian government was forced to buy arms from non-state actors in South Africa which raised lots of uproar in the country.
When Jonathan was defeated in the 2015 general election by incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, many had thought that the U.S. attitude on sell of arms to Nigeria would change. When the Buhari administration attempted to buy fighter aircrafts from Brazil, the deal was agreed by both countries but the transaction was aborted midway by the United States government which claimed that some parts of the aircrafts were manufactured by U.S. as such they could not be sold without their approval.
However, things are looking up under the new administration of President Donald Trump. Trump had promised to rid the world of extremist organisations like Boko Haram and ISIS. Little wonder he is walking the talk and has expressed determination to help Nigerian government eradicate extremist groups like Boko Haram. This is commendable. It is also an indication that the U.S. government believes that Nigerian government is addressing the human rights issues that had been of concern to it.
When the aircrafts finally arrive Nigeria it will mark the beginning of total annihilation of Boko Haram insurgents and a fulfillment of one of the key campaign promises of President Muhammadu Buhari.