With a whooping sum of $1billion expended on arms, indications have emerged that troops in the North-east still fight without sufficient arms.
Some equipment, including artillery guns, Blueprint gathered, were bought some three months ago.
Similarly, some prized and highly sophisticated equipment such as Mines Resistance Armoured Personnel Carrier (MRAP) and helicopter gunships with night fighting capability are either inadequate or not available.
At a brief parley with some select media in Abuja, a source very familiar with the military operation in the North-east, said the arms and ammunition were far from being adequate.
The source, who is a retired general and pleaded anonymity, specifically pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari to constitute a committee of retired Military Generals for some level of interaction with troops in the troubled region, and “the true situation of happenings in the war theatre will be revealed and then we will make the right headway.”
Responding to some inquiries from reporters, he said: “Let me tell you, we need to do the right thing to get this war out of our way. It’s dragging on for too long and that should not be the case. I have been part of Operation Lafiya Dole for years. You are talking of equipment? What equipment? Most of the equipment you see, like these new artillery guns, were bought some three months ago. And they were not sufficient.
“In terms of arms, we need to take stock of the budget and the supply. These people long time ago said they can do it and the Buhari administration released cash. The question is: How many MRAP, gun trucks, and tanks did they buy?
“One might not know the amount of money given out but for the National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Babagana Monguno to have come out to say something, clarifying he didn’t imply the funds were misappropriated, the government should look into what is happening at the frontline because a detailed investigation may reveal where the arms end up.”
Continuing, the source said: “The new Service Chiefs knew what they inherited but they cannot go to the National Assembly to go and open the Pandora’s Box. By virtue of their office, there are certain things they cannot disclose to the public because they border on national security. The country needs to know if the former service chiefs made reports about missing arms following Boko Haram attacks.
“The soldiers are demoralised. Within 10 days, we lost more than 30 soldiers. These are people’s sons, brothers, husbands, fathers, uncles and friends. The fighting spirit of our men is zero without arms.”
On what should be done to correct the trend, he called on President Buhari to either call for a comprehensive audit of the Ordinance Corps or raise a committee of retired Military Generals to interact with troops in the North-east.
“The Ordinance Corps is in charge of arms and ammunition. The President as the Commander-in-Chief can order a comprehensive audit of the arms, ammunition and military equipment given to the corps for distribution. No bullet can be released to troops without the knowledge and record of the Ordinance.
“We can have a committee of retired Generals. Let them come and meet soldiers and interact with them on what is the problem. That is another way out.
“What I am suggesting is that members of the National Assembly from the North-East should go to their constituencies and find out the situation of things. They can also help the President and the ongoing probe by the National Assembly by coming up with confidential reports.”
Responding to another question, the source said: “Boko Haram terrorists do not get supply of arms from outside. The arms they are using, including vehicles, were seized from troops.
“But 90% of the arms Boko Haram are using are from the troops. They used to collect them after attacking any military base. They will just come very close to any base and fire. The boys will repel and after exhausting their ammunition, they will run for cover. And in the process, Boko Haram terrorists will cart away arms and ammunition.
“Even some of the vehicles they are using are from us. 80 per cent of the vehicles are from us. That is why their vehicles are painted in Army colour. The arms are our own; they did not buy it anywhere.
“We are static. That is where we are. They know our position, they gather their boys to come and attack and they pack things away. Then, the next thing you hear is that ‘we repelled’. Are we trained to repel? The answer is No!”
“What we need is six helicopter gunships with night fighting capability. We can finish Boko Haram within three months or four. We know where they are now.
“These South African mercenaries they are talking about, their equipment had night fighting capability. With such gunships, if you go to the camps of the terrorists, we will get them cheaply,” the source further suggested.
ButNational Security Adviser (NSA) Babagana Monguno, said President Buhari provided for the military needs, adding however that it is either the orders were inadequate or yet to be delivered.
Featuring on BBC Hausa Service, Monguno was reported to have said the immediate past service chiefs embezzled fund meant for arms and ammunition.
Clarifying the position however in a statement penultimate Friday, Monguno disowned the report, saying he never said funds meant for arms procurement were missing under the former service chiefs as reported or transcribed by some media outlets from the interview.
“During the interview, the NSA only reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to deal decisively with insecurity and stated President Muhammadu Buhari’s continued commitment to providing all necessary support to the Armed Forces, including the provision of arms and equipment.
“In the interview, the NSA clearly informed the BBC reporter that Mr President has provided enormous resources for arms procurement, but the orders were either inadequate or yet to be delivered; and that also did not imply that the funds were misappropriated under the former Service Chiefs.
“The NSA also informed the reporter that, Mr President is following up on the procurement process; as is usual with contracts relating to military equipment.
“In most cases, the process involves manufacturing; due diligence; as well as tedious negotiations that may change delivery dates,” the NSA had said.
Notwithstanding the clarification, the issue has dominated social discourse and continued to generate reactions from Nigerians out of concerns, particularly for both the civilian and military casualties resulting from the insurgency war.