USA sells $181bn Warplanes to Nigeria to help fight Boko Haram

US Congressional delegation meets with Senate President Bukola Saraki

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), citing a statement by the US Department of State reports that members of the US delegation will also meet with other members of the National Assembly, and religious and civil society leaders.

In 2014, the government of Barack Obama turned down entreaties by former President Goodluck Jonathan for the sale of arms needed to fight insurgency.

He observed that the refusal of the sell weapons to Nigeria in the past was caused by the absence of commitment on the part of the government in power at that time, but explained that the American government had shown interest as a result of the zeal of the present government.

The US Department of Defence had on August 3 approved the sale of 12 attack planes, known as A-29 Super Tucano aircraft, bombs and other ammunition valued at $593 million, to Nigeria.

Meanwhile a former top expert of the U.S. state department, Matthew Page, had indicted the Buhari administration of grossly violating human rights.

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He also alleged that the Nigeria air force officer who went to the U.S. to negotiate the contract in July 2015 "has since been charged with corruption". Both countries hope that the propeller-driven warplanes - tailored for counterinsurgency operations - will bolster Nigerian efforts to combat Boko Haram, one of the world's deadliest terrorist groups.

However, with the easing up of the embargo, the aircraft sale will help the Nigerian Air Force to properly replace the ailing alpha jet platform it's been using in the war against the relentless Boko Haram.

Apart from supplying Nigeria with military hardware; the us would also provide support in the area of tactics and surveillance which Saraki believes would greatly strengthen Nigeria's military. But it cleared itself of any wrongdoing.

This measure was taken after dissatisfaction with the government's reaction to allegations of human rights violations that trailed the military.

The panel is yet to conclude its assignment.

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