By Joy Odor
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume has revealed that the arms and ammunitions being used by the troops of Nigerian Army were procured 42 years ago during the late President Shehu Shagari’s administration.
Senator Ndume disclosed this at a press Roundtable on the State of the Nation organised by the Correspondents’ Chapel, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), FCT Council, Abuja during the weekend.
He was of of the opinion that in the course of his oversight function to the Army formations, no troop was seen with a new AK-47 rifle and ammunitions, against what obtained with bandits, insurgents and kidnappers.
The Lawmaker representing Borno South, called on the Federal Government to prioritise the issues of security, welfare of the troops and the citizens, describing them as serious threats that must be taken very seriously.
According to him, Nigeria is in a sorry state, considering the high rate of unemployment, collapsed education system and frequent kidnap of school children, among others.
Senator Ndume, who lamented the ill equippeded of the Nigerian troops, urged the Federal Government to request the assistance of government of the United States of America to bring to the country experts to train its security personnel rather than taking them there for maximum output.
Senator Ndume said, “The state of the nation, which we are talking about today is a serious matter. We all know that Nigeria today is in a state of serious crisis because the fundamental thing that keeps a country going and progressing to survival which are security and citizens welfare, these two things are now under threat in Nigeria.
“I was embarrassed when the present government launched only three helicopters at the Eagles Square, while Myanmar that is not more than Lagos State ordered for 15 attack jets.”
“In Maiduguri now, once it is 5 o’clock you cannot go in or come out from all angles. The most unfortunate thing is that Nigerians from the top to the bottom, still triviliase tribalism and continue to give the situation religious coloration.
“I, as a legislator of almost 20 years now, I must confess that I am confused. The problem in this country is so much. The country is so divided now.
“The issue of security and welfare of citizens has not been prioritised by the government. We have basically four challenges— insurgency in the North-East, banditry in North-West, herdsmen attack in the South and armed robbery cases everywhere.
“The total number of security personnel in the country, including the Customs, Immigration, Police, the military and others is not up to 800,000 in a country of over 200 million population.”
A country like Nigeria is not serious in addressing its security challenges. Most of the Equipment being used by our Soldiers and security agencies were procured by Former President Shehu Shagari. I have not seen a Soldier with a brand new AK47, but the bandits are having new AK47. I have gone round to Army formations to see all these.
“If you go round and see the conditions of our Soldiers, you will not allow your brother to be there no matter how patriotic you are.
“The Nigerian Armed forces that is engaged in more than 32 states, because of the need to address some of the serious security threats, are not up to 160,000. The Nigerian Police personnel is not up to 400,000 in a country where you have security threats here and there.
“The Nigerian security agencies, especially the armed forces are not well equipped. The military has not been able to finish the terrorists because their equipment are not enough. The solution is with the government. As legislators, we give all the supports needed.