By Stephen Ubanna
More facts have emerged why the Nigerian government paid 496 million to the North American country of the United States,US, government for the Construction of twelve A-29 Super Tucano fighter jets. The cost of the twelve US Manufactured fighter aircrafts may have shot up between 20217 and 2018, which Defence Headquarters officials had blamed on other purchases and security fittings in the fighter jets that were not included in the original contract sum.
Nigerians have every reason to worry about the huge amount that was said to have been paid to the US, government over the Construction of the Fighter jets by Godwin Emefiele, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. The US, Department of Defense had said in November, 28, 2018, that the Pentagon had awarded the contract for the Construction of the 12 A- 29 Super Tucano assault air planes for use of the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, in the ongoing war against the insurgents in the north east states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe including the Bandits in the north west states of Zamfara, Kaduna, and Katsina, home state of Prsident Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General and other Criminal gangs in various parts of the country at the sum of $329 million.
The Department of Defence officials was said to have made it clear to Sierra Nevada, the contracting firm that the cost of the twelve A-29, Super Tucano fighter aircrafts should not exceed $344 million on Completion.
The question on the lips of most people was how the cost of Constructtion and delivery of the, US, fighter jets suddenly jumped from original contract sum of $329 million between 2017 and August, 2018, to $496 million, meaning that the Nigerian government had paid over $40million for each of the US fighter Jets as against the asking price of between $25 million and $30 million in the International Aviation industry.
Many believe that if the Buhari led All Progressive Congress , APC, government , had stopped the payment for the twelve A-29, Super Tucano fighter Jets at $344 million which the US , government had enjoined Sierra Nevada, the Company that had won the contract to Construct the fighter jets, not to exceed, there would not have been any reason any person to raise eyebrows about the $496 million that had been paid to the US, government already for the A-29, Super Tucano Jets.
It is not surprising why people why critics believe that there is an ambiguity to the price as the Katsina state born Nigerian President was said to have hurriedly given approval to Emefiele, the CBN, governor to withdraw the $167 million from the excess Crude account to make up for shortfall in the payment for the $329 million earlier agreed for the Construction of the Fighter jets because he has the backing of Ahmad Lawan, the Senate President.
Indeed,the Lawan, led Senate may not have had the courage to query the rationale for the additional $167 million withdrawal from the excess Crude account to add up to the $329 million original contract sum to avoid playing into the hands of the Nigerian President who was said to have sponsored him for the position of the Hallowed Chamber President in order to do all his biddings.
Political Observers believe that the Nigerian President would have had difficulty in getting the approval for the withdrawal of the additional $167 million from the excess Crude account for payment for the shortfall of the US, fighter jets, if Bukola Saraki, a former governor of Kwara state and one –time Senate President was re-elected into the Hallowed Chamber and returned to his former position as Senate President. He would mobilise Senators, to grill the retired army General over the cost of the fighter jets after finding out all there is to know about them.
Security experts believe that the US Department of Defence officials may have taken advantage of the $496 million that had been paid by the Nigerian government for the twelve A29 mode, Super Tucano Tucano jets to pile up pressure on Sierra Nevada, the contracting to expedite work on the Construction of the fighter Jets to facilitate delivery between July and August 2021. Joe Biden, the US, President was said to have started from where Donald Trump, the former President had stopped to facilitate the Construction of the A 29, super model Tuano fighter jet for the Nigerian government.
This may have informed why Emefiele, the CBN governor, could beat his chest last May, that the first batch of the North American country of the US, manufactured super Tucano fighter jets would arrive the country in July , 2021 and the second batch of it in August 2021. True to his words and based on his findings, the US, government delivered the first batch of the A -29 Tucano, fighter jets on Thursday, July 22, 2021, to the Nigerian government in the ancient City of Kano, amidst celebrations in security circles.
Barshir Magashi, a retired Major General and minister of Defence, accompanied by top ministry of Defence officials, including Farouk Yayaha, a Lt. General and Chief of Army Staff, COAS, and Air Marshall Isiaka Oladayo Amao, Chief of Air Staff, CAS, were said to have received the Fighter jets in Kano, on behalf the Nigerian government.
Many are optimistic that the US, Fighter jets would go a long way to address the insecurity Challenges in the north east and north west Geo-political regions as well as other various parts of the country. Emefiele, the CBN , governor may have hit the nail on the head when he said the Insurgents operating in the north east states of Borno and Yobe, and the Bandits operating in Zamfara, Kaduna and Katsina are in trouble.
Th procurement of the US, a29-Tucano Fighter Jets, by the government, may have forced the Bandits and the Insurgents to go back to the drawing to re-strategise on ho w to frustrate the Pilots of the A -29 SuperTucano Fighter Jets from achieving their targets of bombing their Camps. The military Authorities may have known the the Bandits and Insurgents would plot to frustrate the operation of the US, Super A-29. Fighter Jets, but they appear to have prepared for such eventuality as the Pilots for the fighter Jets have been well trained that it would be very difficult for any of the Criminal gangs to survive the attack this time around.
Although, the Zamfara Bandits, may have sent a message to the NAF, Authorities, that if they could attack one of their Alpha Fighter Jets on Surveillance Reconnaissance operation at the boundary between Zamfara and Kaduna states which forced it to Crash somewhere in Kaduna, on Sunday, July 18, 2021, the situation may not be different with the US, A-29-super Tucano fighter jets.
Recall that Last April, BokoHaram ,, Insurgents had released video , showing how they succeeded in Crashing a NAF, Alpha Jet at Abba-Jile village in Borno state through intense attack. This is why the NAF, Flight Lieutenants, may have to be more cautious in handling the US, A-29, us, super 29, Tucano , jets, to achieve its purpose, of crushing the Criminal gangs across the country.
T Aware that there is trouble ahead for the Bandits operating in the north west states of Zamfara, oKaduna and Katsina, with the delivery of the A29-super Tucano aircrafts to the Nigerian government by the US , Authorities, may have informed why the Bandits have gone to the extreme of destroying houses in the villages to force the Military Authorities to take a hasty decision to deploy the US Fighter jets for operation to study it and restrategise in order to confront it.
Only, recently the Bandits were said to have killed more than 48 people and burnt down over 300 houses in 12 villages in Zangon Kataff Local Government Area of Kaduna state. The Bandits, who are operating between the forests of Zamfara and Kaduna states were said to have carried out the coordinated attack in a stretch of one week.
They were said to have also attacked Dansadau Community within Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara state, killing three persons and kidnapped seven others, who were said to have been taken to their hideout in an undisclosed location in the state to Negotiate for ransom. Ibrahim Dosara, the Zamfara state Commissioner for Information had said that there are over 100 Camps in the state with over 30,000 Bandits, crisis-crossing the flashpoint states in the north west geo-political region and beyond to attack and kidnap victims.