NIGERIA ECONOMY FACT FILE.
Population : 200 million
GDP Norminal : $567 Billion
GDP (PPP) : $1.07 trillion.
Oil Production : 2.3 million bpd
Proven Oil Reserve : 39 Billion barrels
Value of Reserve in 2016 USD : $4.6 trillion
NIGERIA MILITARY FACT FILE
Active Duty : 200,000
Reserve Personnel : 32,000
Paramilitary : 180,000
DEFENCE BUDGET + EXTRA BUDGETARY SECURITY ALLOCATION 2013-2018
An increase in defence spending is not a bad thing. Threats from Boko Haram is expected to drive Nigeria’s focus on defense spending. In order to counter these threats, the country is expected to invest in surveillance and intelligence gathering systems, which are expected to be covered under defense spending.
As a result, Nigeria’s homeland security budget has been increasing exponentially to almost 14% from around US$1.7 Billion in 2013 to close to US$4 Billion by 2015. DEFENCE spending fell to $1.7 Billion in 2016 about $2.3 Billion 2018. These does not include the now time-honoured tradition of an extra budgetary allocation of $1 Billion to buy munitions. Yes $1 billion set aside annually for munitions to prosecute the war.
In a nutshell Nigeria is easily among Africa’s Top 5 defence spenders. But it doesn’t end there. Should Nigeria be averse to depleting its dollar reserve the country is among a hand few that can finance its arms purchases with commodities. To understand this concept let’s look at Indonesia.
In August 2017 Indonesia bought 11 Sukhoi fighter jets worth $1.14 billion from Russia in exchange for cash and Indonesian commodities. Unwilling to deplete its Forex reserve, the Southeast Asian country pledged to ship up to $570 million worth of commodities in addition to cash to pay for the Suhkoi SU-35 fighter jets. China and Russia have been willing to accept commodities as payment.
In other words, Nigeria is better suited than %90 of African countries to finance huge arms procurement. It’s Africa’s first trillion-dollar economy. It had Africa’s largest Foreign Reserve until it was pushed over to number 2 by Algeria. It’s the worlds 6th largest exporter of crude. Perhaps most importantly, the security imperatives are there. There is simply no excuse whatsoever not to adequately fund the armed forces.
And YES Nigeria has pumped in billions of dollars in recent years, but it hasn’t translate into major new equipment procurement orders and capital investment in the military. In 2014 the All Progressives Congress (APC) put the total amount spent by the country’s security apparatus at $32.88 billion. THIRTY TWO BILLION DOLLARs
A major watershed is the decade long bitter war of attrition which has revealed severe deficiencies in Nigeria’s military organization and technology. As recently as 2003 the Nigerian military lived up to its billing as the preponderant military power in West Africa. It’s military crackdown basically forced Niger Delta insurgents to the table.
In 2003 Liberian rebels took control of a key bridge in the capital, Monrovia, before being beaten back by government troops. Nigeria, already preoccupied with Niger Delta hoped this was just a fad, When it became clear it wasn’t and as fighting raged on with hundreds killed in a week, Nigeria deployed 1,300 troops to Liberia.
At the same time when rebels overthrew the government in Guinea-Bissau, the Nigerian Minister of Defence, Bello Mohammed pledged the military’s zero-tolerance to the forceful takeover of government in any part of the region. Again Nigeria deployed troops to Guinea Bissau as part of its commitment to restoring constitutional order in that country.
Such was the capability of the Nigerian Army. It was the most feared army in the region. It’s worthy to note that at this time Nigeria was spending less than a billion dollars on defence. Between $700-800 million. It took less 7 years for that capability to erode.
The Boko Haram insurgency demystified the Nigerian military. Since the insurgency began 35,000 Nigerians have been killed. Thousands of soldiers KIA. For the first time in Nigeria’s entire existence, a hostile actor basically created a mini-State with its own territory. Boko Haram controlled about 20,000 square miles of territory within Nigerian territory an area the size of Belguim, encompassing 17 Local Government areas and 2 million Nigerians.
The Nigerian army, crippled by corruption and incompetence, has shown itself unable to resist the jihadist advance. Despite all this, the Nigerian government does not place a high priority on improving the quality its military hardware and on rebuilding Nigeria’s military capacity that has been so heavily depleted after a decade of war.
Nigeria has in the last 15 years been engaged in armed conflict in the Niger Delta, Liberia and with Boko Haram, and continues to regard the now vastly militarily superior Francophone alliance as a serious threat to Nigeria’s security.
In 2014 the federal government allocated 20 per cent of its budget to the armed forces – over $5 billion. The biggest defence allocation ever. Yet precious little trickled down to the soldiers in the frontline, who remain poorly armed and equipped. Instead, a large proportion of the military budget simply disappeared into the pockets of senior officers. The over $36 billion spent on security allocation since the war began have basically being plundered.
Corruption inhibits a core state goal of strengthening Nigeria’s military. Several recent cases have involved the misuse of state assets by officials to embezzle funds, or to sell off assets cheaply to the mutual benefit of the buyer and the seller.
The biggest and most well-publicized corruption scandal in the Ministry of Defense in recent years was the one that involved Sambo Dasuki, a former National Security Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan.
When President Buhari assumed office he set up an investigative panel through the Office of the National Security Adviser to probe arms procurement between 2007 and 2015. It was gathered that part of the panel’s discovery was that the total amount involved in arms fraud was $15bn. FIFTEEN BILLION DOLLARS. The $15bn arms funds were diverted by top military officers. The presidential panel set up by President Muhammadu Buhari through the Office of the National Security Adviser to probe arms procurement between 2007 and 2015.
The financial muscle of Nigeria is unmatched. It out classes that of Egypt and South Africa, yet the Nigerian military looks more like that of a militia than a modern army. The government still views massive investing in the armed forces at the bottom level in priority. Those who suffer the consequence of this madness are not the politicians who live in gated estates with personal security. Rather they are the troops at the frontlines who bears the brunt of the incompetence of the Nigerian government.
Just two days ago rampaging Boko Haram insurgents overran a Nigerian Army battalion in Borno State, killing the unit’s commander and 70 soldiers. A soldier, who managed to escape the attack alongside other injured troops, said at least 70 soldiers died in the attack. He said the corpses of the slain Nigerian soldiers are yet to be evacuated, days after Boko Haram took advantage of their lack of munitions, and dealt them a devastating defeat.
It was also gathered that large cache of arms, ammunition, and military equipment were carted away by Boko Haram fighters during the attack on 157 Task Force Battalion in Metele, Guzamala Local Government Area, at about 6:00 p.m.
In this gut wrenching incident the few soldiers were lucky to have escaped the onslaught said that there were efforts being made to evacuate corpses of the fallen soldiers on Tuesday morning. According to soldiers who survived the attack, the move to evacuate the littering corpses was thwarted by Boko Haram fighters who held their ground and forced the soldiers to abandon the mission.
The ATTACK as it HAPPENED
According to the soldier who survived the attack, their location was invaded after Boko Haram allegedly issued a threat letter last Friday that it would soon take over four strategic military locations around the Lake Chad region.
“The attack came at about 6pm on Monday evening”, said the soldier.
“When the soldier on top of the observation post alerted that a large number of Boko Haram fighters were advancing, we all got alarmed as we took cover and waited within the base in Metele.
“The fight did not last for more than 45 minutes; but it was bloody because the Boko Haram fighters had more armament advantage that the soldiers.
“When we realised the fight would be against us, we decided to retreat from the camp, but it was rather too late. The camp was surrounded with barbed wire, and the enemy fire was coming from the direction of the entrance. We were like surrounded.
“One of the drivers of the gun trucks decided to push through the barbed wire so that other vehicles could follow and escape, but the truck got stuck, that was how many of our soldiers in other vehicles and those on foot were massacred.
“Those that managed to escape with injuries made it on foot through Cross-Kauwa to Monguno where they boarded commercial vehicles, some even sat in the booth of the Golf cars to get to Maiduguri.
“The Boko Haram made away with about seven gun trucks of the Nigeria army.
The senior non-commissioned military source said no fewer than 70 soldiers were killed while many others who were outgunned by the Boko Haram fighters had to flee.
The soldier, who claimed to have made it to Maiduguri on foot after escaping the heated battle, said an attempt to return to the battlefield to evacuate the bodies of the fallen heroes was thwarted by another attack from the insurgents.
The soldier, who pleaded strict anonymity in this report, informed PREMIUM TIMES that troops in the field are still facing serious challenges of inadequate ammunition and motivation.
The soldier said the deployed team that went to evacuate the bodies of the soldiers could only pick about five corpses before they suffered yet another ambush attack from Boko Haram fighters, forcing them to abandon the mission and fled.
“Up till yesterday, Wednesday, the evacuation of the corpses have not been completed, to the best of my knowledge,” he said.
The source said troops have been recording death of many soldiers almost on a daily basis as Boko Haram sustained attacks on military formations.
“We need the world to hear how we are being sent to slaughter as though our lives don’t matter,” he said.
It could be recalled that on August 12, a group of soldiers stationed at the Maiduguri International Airport staged what seemed a mutiny following a protest over military authority’s move to redeploy them to the frontline.
The soldiers insisted that the redeployment would put them in danger following the fact that those deployed earlier suffered serious casualty due to inadequate arms and ammunition.
The military command in Maiduguri dispelled the claims of the soldiers and some of the revolting soldiers were later court-martialled.
The source to this report said despite the protest and the subsequent court-martial, some of the soldiers that were deployed still suffered the fate that befell their colleagues.
“Some few weeks ago, about 75 of us from our own unit here in Maiduguri were deployed to the front line and it took the grace of God for about 40 of us to return alive.
“When we returned and gave our complaint, we were asked to go back again to Metele, an area near Kangarwa forest, and we have been there for about three weeks now fighting a defensive battle.
“We beg the Nigerian media to help us by echoing out our muffled voices. The children of poor Nigerians have been turned into chicken meant for easy sacrifices by our commanders.
“We are being killed on daily basis as if our lives don’t matter. Of course as soldiers we signed to lay down our lives in defence of this country, but certainly not in the manner we are being presented for slaughter without dignity. A soldier should die fitting and not being chased or overpowered.
“Our morale has been dampened so badly – not only because we are not given our due allowances; but for the fact that we have been outgunned by the Boko Haram.
“The situation has gone so bad that it has gotten to a stage that soldiers would be rushing to pack up their camps and flee upon hearing the news that Boko Haram fighters are advancing.
“We have suddenly lost our spirit of launching attacks because of lack of resources to prosecute the battle. Many of us are ready to do our best, but there has been no requisite support from those sending us out there.
“As I am talking to you now, we have about 70 corpses of soldiers littering the battleground in Metele and when we went to evacuate them on Monday, the Boko Haram gunmen came out in large numbers from all angles – so we had to abandon the corpses after just picking five of them. We left most of the corpses there as I am talking to you now.
“The media need to give this clear picture to the world – Nigerians need to know what we are facing here in the battlefield. Only some of us that escaped managed to get to Maiduguri on Tuesday, but many others are yet to surface.
“The fact of the matter is that we still have a very large number of Boko Haram terrorists out there. As far as the Nigerian army is concerned, it will take more than ten years to chase out Boko Haram from our hinterlands, without the help of foreign forces.
“We can only brag that we can defeat them; but in reality, we lack the capacity to do so, given the kind of approach we accord to prosecuting the war.”
Metele is, for now, regarded as one of the strongholds of Boko Haram in the northern part of Borno State.
It could be recalled that it was in Metele that about 18 Nigeria soldiers were killed and about 151 soldiers and six officered were declared missing when insurgents raided an outpost of 157 Battalion on October 8.
The military had reported that it had killed at least 76 Boko Haram fighters in Metele while giving seven soldiers dead and 16 injured as the official figures of casualties recorded during the attack no troops’ location.
End of Part One.