The Muhammadu Buhari government has attributed the delayed delivery of 12 Super Tucano jet fighters for the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) to comments by those it described as “the opponents of the Nigerian government”.
The jets are, according to the government, crucial to Nigeria’s fight on insecurity, and the ‘opponents’ of its speedy delivery include the Catholic Bishop of Diocese of Sokoto, Mathew Kukah.
Poor interreligious relations between Christianity and Islam in the country and constant lobbying of US Congress by Kukah and other government critics should be blamed for the delay, the government said in a statement on Sunday.
“It is a pity therefore that US policy and support towards our country, including during the Buhari administration, has been so inconsistent,” Buhari’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said in the statement.
“In 2015 the then newly-elected Buhari government requested US military support in the form of Super Tucano jet fighters for the Nigerian Air Force.
“The Nigerian military, security, and intelligence services repeatedly made this request. The US administration of the time concurred: the delivery of such jets would help deliver a critical turning point in Nigeria’s struggle against jihadist terrorists across the Sahel.
“Yet two years later, that jet delivery was rescinded, the reasons given that unless Nigeria improved its religious relations between Christianity and Islam then US support would not be forthcoming in this, and many other areas.
“Such views were compounded by the constant lobbying of US Congress by the opponents of the Nigerian government who had lost the previous election, and many of their southern religious supporters—including Bishop Mathew Kukah, the Catholic Bishop of Diocese of Sokoto, who, unsurprising, provides a supportive quote for the dustcover of the new edition of Campbell’s book. (Kukah even took to addressing the US Congress himself, briefing his audience on the history of coups in Nigeria—without, of course, mentioning that none had occurred since 1993, some 29 years ago).
“Fortunately, now today under a new US administration these jets have been delivered, and with it, a serious blow against the terrorists—with the supreme leader of Islamic State in West Africa and scores of other leaders of the group eliminated in airstrikes.
“It is also inconsistent to preach the need for stability but needlessly delay sharing military equipment in the form of jets – not least when it is now proven they would have helped Nigeria much earlier defeat the terrorists who threaten our country.”
The Presidency also lamented that despite glaring contrary evidence predictors of Nigeria’s state collapse have continued to bet big on their word.
It said, “In 2005, a US National Intelligence Council paper “Mapping Sub-Saharan Africa’s Future” floated the idea there could be a military coup in Nigeria. However, for the last 29 years—close to a generation—there have been none.
“Since the return of democracy in 1999 there have been six general elections, four elected presidents, four transfers of power—including one in 2015 between the winning opposition candidate and the losing incumbent president seeking re-election.
“Yet despite all the evidence to the contrary, the collapse predictors keep doubling down on their bets. Most recently retired former US Ambassador to Nigeria 2004-7 John Campbell has updated his book, of which the first edition said:
“‘While Nigerians often claim they are masters of dancing on the brink without falling off, the disastrous administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, the radical Islamic insurrection Boko Haram, and escalating violence in the delta and the north may finally provide the impetus that pushes it into the abyss of state failure.’
“It didn’t of course, quite the opposite: Jonathan was defeated at the 2015 general election with power peacefully transferring to the victor, President Muhammadu Buhari.”