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FG orders 50 fighter jets as terrorists occupy Kainji

"Effective strategies require comprehensive approaches that address these drivers, promote socioeconomic development, enhance governance, resolve conflict, and strengthen regional and international cooperation."

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FG orders 50 fighter jets as terrorists occupy Kainji

Story from Onuoha Sussan

The Nigerian Government has announced plans to acquire 50 new fighter jets to enhance the country’s armed forces in combating terrorism.

This decision comes as regional security alerts indicate the movement of Al-Qaida terrorists into the northwest region of Nigeria. These alerts have raised concerns about armed militants making their way from the Sahel region, bordering Benin Republic and Nigeria.

According to Wednesday’s security report, “Dangerous Liaisons” by the Dutch research think tank Clingendael Institute, militants linked to Al-Qaida have been migrating from the Republic of Benin and settling in northern Nigeria, including around Kainji National Park. The 81-page report highlights that this trend, if not addressed, could escalate attacks in both countries, which are already struggling with armed violence from various groups.

Security analyst Chidi Omeje commented on the situation, noting the porous nature of Nigeria’s borders. “It’s not surprising if such happens, because of course, you know the nature of our very porous borders,” said Omeje.

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“Those ones coming through the Sahel, to me, are purely for economic pondering, I’m not sure they’re ideological based. [But] it’s a dire situation, it’s quite concerning, it’s frightening.”

The report also attributes the search for economic opportunity and high poverty levels as contributing factors to the recruitment and expansion of armed groups in the region.

Africa’s Sahel, the vast expanse south of the Sahara Desert, is identified as a global terrorist epicenter according to the 2023 World Terrorism Index.

Experts suggest that recent coups in the African region have adversely affected its security situation and response to regionally based militants.

During a summit on counter-terrorism hosted by Nigeria in April, Nigerian National Security Adviser Nuhu Ribadu emphasized the need for comprehensive approaches to address the drivers of terrorism.

“Terrorism in Africa is driven by factors such as foreign terrorist fighters, organized crime, prolonged conflict, drug trafficking, illicit arms trade, high youth unemployment, and inadequate policing,” said Ribadu.

“Effective strategies require comprehensive approaches that address these drivers, promote socioeconomic development, enhance governance, resolve conflict, and strengthen regional and international cooperation.”

Security analyst Senator Iroegbu emphasized the importance of securing Nigeria’s borders while planning for robust regional action. “There’s a lot of volatility on the northern fringes of Nigeria,” said Iroegbu.

“The insecurity is a fertile ground for all these groups to easily crisscross the boundaries and establish themselves. These jihadist groups … their target is also to move to the coastal side of Africa.

It’s now left for the security agents and Nigerian government to decide how they respond to this. In fact, a contingency plan should’ve been in place all along.”

In response to these developments, Nigeria announced plans to acquire 50 military aircraft this week to combat terrorism, particularly in the northwest region.

However, analysts warn that unless these plans are supported by initiatives to alleviate poverty and reduce local vulnerability, the problem may persist.

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