EXCLUSIVE: Why Fighter Aircraft Acquired By Buhari’s Government Have Failed To Stop Insurgency, Banditry

The President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has purchased no fewer than 32 fighter aircraft for the military since 2015 when it came to power while the Boko Haram insurgency, banditry and herdsmen raged in the country. 

SaharaReporters learnt from military records that the fighter jets and helicopters within the six years were purchased from Austria, Italy, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.

The 32 total platforms exclude the 12 Super Tucano fighter aircraft still expected from the United States which would start arriving from June 2021 according to the Presidency earlier this month.

However, despite the increasing fighter aircraft purchased by the government, the insecurity situation in the country has worsened with the Boko Haram developing a more deadly faction – the Islamic State West African Province fighters – both of whom have continued to attack towns and communities in the highly vulnerable Borno and Yobe states.

From the records, the latest arrival of military aircraft into the country was last week when three JF-17 Thunder Fighter Jets from Pakistan arrived in Nigeria.

SaharaReporters learnt from records that the three JF-17 were purchased in a $184 million deal between both countries.

“The fighter jets are supersonic aircraft that can perform day and night all-weather air to air and air to ground missions, including strategic strike and interdiction,” a military expert revealed.

From the military breakdown, the 32 aircraft acquired by the Buhari administration in its unsuccessful bid to quell insecurity were: “five DA40 Light aircraft from Austria acquired in 2017; six A-109K Light helicopters – armed AW109M version – purchased in 2018 and delivered in 2019.

“Also, 10 Super Mushshak MFI-17 Supporter trainer aircraft acquired between 2016 and 2018, and seven Mi-35M Combat helicopter and Mi-8MT/MI-17 transport helicopter from Russia delivered between 2017 and 2020. Also from the United States, Nigeria purchased four Alpha Jet trainer and combat aircraft between 2014 and 2018.”

SaharaReporters learnt that most of the platforms are deployed to the North-East and operate from the Air Task Force headquarters of Operation Lafiya Dole in Yola, Adamawa State.

“It is not about the many platforms we have – insurgency and banditry also require political solutions. The platforms are at an excruciating cost to the country and its fragile economy, but it is good for military exploration.

“The military acts based on orders – and sometimes, the Federal Government refuses to give orders to attack certain places where the problem is rife.

“The number of aircraft acquired will only be for fun until the political leadership is ready to tackle the actors behind insecurity in Nigeria,” a top officer at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, said in an interview with SaharaReporters.

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