The President has taken steps to enhance the general welfare of the armed forces, especially those serving in active parts of the country, according to a statement by the Minister of Defence, Mansur Muhammed Dan-Ali. Dan-Ali also disclosed the president has ordered the immediate procurement of critical equipment for the armed forces.
The statement said the equipment must be procured from original manufacturers on a government-to-government basis, in line with the Federal government’s policy.
The information was disclosed during a meeting with service chiefs at the Headquarters of Ministry of Defence. The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai was also ordered to relocate to the North East until the security situation improves.
He also directed the General Officer Commanding the 8 Division, Nigerian Army to relocate his tactical headquarters from Sokoto to Gusau, Zamfara State to oversee the conduct of Operation Sharan Dahi.
The minister mandated the chief of defence staff and Buratai to effect changes in the operational commands of Operations Delta Safe in the Niger Delta, Lafiya Dole in the North East, Sharan Dahi in Zamfara and Katsina states and Awatse in the South West. Dan-Ali said the changes were to enable them meet up with the current threats and security challenges in their areas of responsibility.
The directives came as a pro-democracy organisation, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) said the special forces of the army fighting in the ongoing counterinsurgency in the northeast needed special weapons to fight the Boko Haram terrorists.
To this end, the group urged the National Assembly to pass a legislative framework which will prioritize funding of the defence sector to ensure that the military fulfills their roles efficiently and effectively.
HURIWA lamented that the $1billion said to have been taken from the escrow account was yet to be received at the Defence Ministry. HURIWA decried how bureaucratic bottleneck was slowing the process of release of funds and slowing down the ongoing war against terrorists.
The group also canvassed:
- The creation of what it calls ‘War budgets’
- The timeline for national security objectives that must be achieved by a particular set of service chiefs, and
- A specified tenure so that other competent professional and combat-tested and trusted military generals are appointed to replace the serving military chiefs so the counter-terror war does not become a commercially viable sector to be used by them for personal aggrandizement.
These demands were contained in a statement signed by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and National Media Director Miss Zainab Yusuf.