The Ministry of Defence has said that it has not been involved in the procurement of arms for the military for years now because the task was transferred to the Military Services Department.
The Permanent Secretary in the ministry Aliyu Ismaila, after leading its top officials to brief President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday, noted that the ministry has been disengaged from playing a role in arms procurement for some years now.
Ismaila hinted that the President has directed that the ministry be co-opted into the 13-man investigative committee constituted on Monday to probe how hardware and ammunition in the Armed Forces were procured under late president Umar Musa Yar’Adua and ex-president Goodluck Jonathan.
“Definitely, the ministry was involved in the procurement of arms some time ago; but in recent years, the responsibility was shifted to the services department,” the permanent secretary explained.
He, however, said President Buhari directed during the meeting that the ministry be co-opted into the panel because the ministry was involved in the procurement during the period under probe.
Ismaila noted that news of the setting up of the probe committee came to the ministry as a welcome development.
He said: “Mr. President has asked that the Ministry of Defence be included in that (arms probe) committee. The ministry was very involved in the procurement in those years; so, definitely we have something to present to that committee. So, we are part and parcel of that committee.
“The ministry is very excited that this committee has been formed, because our own concern apart from the administrative and financial support is to make sure that policy thrust is complied with. Procurement of relevant equipment according to specification of the Nigerian Armed Forces is being complied with and we are very happy for that.
“At the end of this, we hope to have procurement that will be value added, cost effective and meet our needs both locally and internationally”.
He further noted that terrorism would soon be a thing of the past in the country as the military is undergoing retraining to be able to contain the insurgency once and for all.
This, he added, was why soon after they were decorated, the new service chiefs started working round the clock to ensure that the three months deadline given them by the President to end the gory activities of the Boko Haram sect is met.
Isma’ila said this is even why the issue of military equipment would be one of the immediate challenges that the President would address.
He said, “Terror has not come to stay in Nigeria because it is not part of our culture or training; it is not part of us. We want you to extend this to Nigerians. You are the one we are using to deliver our messages that terror will soon end.
“Yes, when we came, there was no terror. But now there is terror and we are training and retraining and repositioning Nigeria’s armed forces to fight the insurgency. Nigeria is leading. Nigeria has fought and assisted sister countries in peace keeping and there is no reason why Nigerian Armed Forces will not fight.”