THE United States on Thursday, January 7, handed over 24 Mine-Resistant Armour-Protected Vehicles, MRAP, to the Nigerian Army to boost the war against Boko Haram, in the North-East.
The handing over took place at a brief ceremony in Lagos. Patrick Doyle, a colonel and the US Defence Attaché to Nigeria, who represented James Entwistle, US ambassador, said the donation was part of his country’s commitment to assist Nigeria in its war against insurgency.
Doyle commended the Nigerian government for its kind assistance to the US whenever called upon. “I believe United States government security cooperation commitment is second to none. We have provided extensive training programmes, logistical supports, and equipment to the Nigerian armed forces and we will continue to do so,” he said.
The armoured vehicles, which arrived in the country on New Year day, were part of the US government’s Excess Defence Articles Programme, a programme designed to transfer excess US military equipment to partner nations.
Eight more of the vehicles are expected to arrive in Nigeria soon.
Doyle said half of the 24 vehicles were in good working condition but will need “minor work.”
“When the Nigerian army inspected the vehicles a few months back, they selected the best vehicles that they could find,” he said.
The vehicles, according to him, were in line with its Excess Defence Articles Programme of the US and were said to be among those retrieved from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Excess Defence Articles Programme is designed to transfer excess military equipment from the US to foreign governments or international organisations to help with modernisation of partner nations’ military capabilities.
“The reason we are giving the vehicles, we have the Excess Defence Programme, is because we are downsizing forces in our military, we have left Iraq with our forces and we have downsized our forces in Afghanistan and we do not need all these vehicles anymore. So Nigeria asked for these vehicles and we gladly provided it to them,” Doyle said.
Many Nigerian were said to have been killed of land mines buried by the Boko Haram terrorists across the North-East.
Barry Ndiomu, a major-general who represented Dan Ali, Nigeria’s Defence Minister, said the vehicles were, indeed, needed to prosecute the war in the North-East.
“We express our most profound gratitude for the gift of Mine Resistant Ambush-protected vehicle to the Nigerian Army. It couldn’t have come at a better time especially considering the challenges that confront our armed forces in the north east,” Ndiomu said, adding: “We appreciate what you have done, although like Oliver Twist, we would appreciate if you can do even more.”
Ndiomu disclosed that some of the armoured vehicles were not serviceable and requested for assistance of the US to procure their spare parts. But Doyle said Nigeria would have to decide on how to get them repaired.
“They can repair them on their own and they have the facilities to do that, but of course the spare parts are very particular to these vehicles so, the general and I have been discussing and we have been in discussions with the army previously and we were working modalities on how we will get those parts to them,” the US colonel said.
Doyle disclosed that the 24 armoured vehicles worth as much as $11 million (brand new ones), while the other expected eight were valued at $7.5 million.
— Jan 18, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT