Tucano Jets Delay: ‘Military’s conduct, not Kukah, to be blamed’ – NEF tells Presidency

The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has disagreed with the Presidency that the opposition as well as the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, are to be blamed for the United States of America’s delay in delivering 12 Super Tucano jet fighters for the Nigerian Air Force to fight insecurity across the country.

The Presidency had blamed Kukah and opponents of government for the perception of the US government of poor Christianity and Islam relations in Nigeria, which had led to delays in the supply of fighter jets to the country.

But speaking on a television programme yesterday, NEF’s Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, faulted the Presidency over the way it responds to criticisms.

He advised the Presidency to reassess the way it wages the war against insurgency and terrorism so as to avoid what gave rise to delay in weapons procurement from Western countries.

He maintained that rather than blame Kukah or the northern elders’ group, the administration should ensure that the military operations satisfy the basic standards demanded by the weapon suppliers.

The NEF also reiterated the forum’s earlier call for President Muhammadu Buhari to resign if unable to resolve the nation’s security problems.

Reacting to a question on the issue, Baba-Ahmed maintained that Nigeria has a problem procuring weapons because of the conduct of the armed forces and related agencies on human rights issues, dealing with prisoners of war and people caught up in conflicts.

According to him, “The truth is, maybe they know this, maybe they don’t know, the Nigerian Government has problems procuring weaponry from Western countries, because these countries, in most cases, have standards regarding conduct by their armed forces and related agencies, in terms of dealing on human rights issues, dealing with prisoners of war, dealing with populations caught up in conflicts.

“Everybody knows this. They will not sell you one bullet unless they are satisfied that you’ve met certain criteria. And they have raised issues over and over and over again. The Nigerian government knows this. But they need to improve the conduct of the Nigerian military, in the fight against the insurgency, against terrorists. They know this.

“And when someone points them out, either it is because of lethargy, it takes them a long time to adjust, or perhaps the challenges of the conflict doesn’t allow them to make adjustments while they’re also fighting, I don’t know what it is, but whatever it is, it is true that if we have met, or comply with standards, set by countries that should give us weapons, well, sell us weapons, we would have a lot more weapons that we have now.

“So, whether it comes from Bishop Kukah, or it comes from me, we made this point. We want to buy weapons from some countries and improve the way we wage this war. It can be done, it must be done if you want these weapons.

“So, I agree with Bishop Kukah that the government needs to review its attitude, some of those issues raised by countries that are creating problems, well, seemingly creating a problem for us in terms of selling weapons, and that the onus is on us to improve those conditions. It’s fact and we need it now.

“We must not go to the 2023 elections with the current state of insecurity or a worse state of insecurity, not just because of the elections, but because life is getting worse by the day and it’s time to reverse this trend.

“We cannot continue to live like this. Every inch of this country has one form of security challenge or the other and there are solutions to them. It cannot be that there are no solutions to the insecurities.

“There must be something wrong in the way we are running the country. We should say so. We should raise our voices and demand that the people we voted into office, the President, the National Assembly, and governors, they must do better. We can’t live like rats hiding in holes and running away every year from criminals.

“We just can’t. We’re tired. If they can’t operate the country, there is an option. There is a provision in the Constitution for stepping down if you can’t perform the most basic function available to you, which is to protect and secure citizens”.

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