During the week, President Muhammadu Buhari met with security chiefs including: Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar; and Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas; Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris; and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Abubakar who attended the meeting for the first time since his appointment.
The Defence Minister briefed State House corespondents after the meeting. See the takeaways below:
US Weapons Deal Mix-up
The Trump administration in December 2017 approved the sale of 12 A-29 Super Tucanos and other weapons to Nigeria.
The US State department’s deal with Nigeria would require the country to pay up in about 3 weeks – February 20, 2018. Dan Ali also disclosed that the fighter aircrafts would not be delivered until 2020. He also hinted that the US is not prepared to allow Nigerian technicians to supervise the production which he said was against the Nigerian standard procedure.
“The contract include cost which is $494 million to acquire the Super Tucano A29 plans as well as training, where the facilities will be accommodated and continuous servicing among others.
“Some of the stringent measures include that we will start having them from 2020, which is two years from now. They are also thinking of not allowing our technicians to be part of the production inspection.
“But this is what we normally do in all the defence contracts, we send our personnel to go and understudy especially when it comes to specialized aircrafts like in Russia, our personnel are permanently based in where the production is being done for this MI35 helicopters.”
National Commission On Small Arms And Light Weapons
Ali said that a new commission: The National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons is in the works. According to him, the present Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PRESCOM) will morph into the commission. With regards to the composition, Ali disclosed that members would be drawn from all the security services, the ONSA, Defence and Interior Ministries under the leadership of a retired General.
“In compliance with the presidential directive for the establishment of National Commission on the Control of small Arms and Light Weapons in the country, the Ministry of Defence in conjunction with the office of the National Security Adviser has set up a committee to work out modalities to transform the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PRESCOM) to a National Commission.”
This could be connected with the statement by the Federal Government that estimated the number of illegal weapons in Nigeria at 350 million. Another expert, Prof. Joy Ogwu a former UN Security Council Chair gave the figures of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria as about 7 million.
Ali also disclosed the resolution by the government to tackle hate speech “as a matter of urgency.”
This position is not unexpected, VP Osinbajo had drawn the line during an August 2017 security summit where he described hate speech as a form of terrorism.
Likewise, the media has exposed Memos from the ONSA which sought to block 21 news websites from the “Nigerian cyberspace” for “threatening national security”.
Ali said: “Relevant security agencies should as a matter of urgency tackle the propagation of hate speeches through the social media, particularly by some notable Nigerians.”