By Johnson Eyiangho
The Federal Government has solicited the cooperation of Russia to eliminate the Boko Haram insurgents from Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin countries.
The Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali made the appeal on Wednesday at the 8th Moscow “Conference on International Security.’’
Dan-Ali also sought Russia’s cooperation in securing the maritime domain of the Gulf of Guinea.
A copy of the minister’s speech was made available to newsmen in Abuja.
Dan-Ali said Russia’s experience in counter terrorism operations is required to bring the scourge of terrorism (Boko Haram) to an end.
“Military and technical assistance in this respect will be highly appreciated,’’ he said, adding that its cooperation in critical infrastructural development, especially the modernisation of Nigeria’s military arsenal is needed.
“It is the intention of Nigeria to leverage on Russia’s support to attain technological emancipation of our Military Industrial Complex and training of Nigerians especially in medicine, science and technology.’’
Dan-Ali expressed concern over the rise in terrorism and insurgency in the continent with specific reference to Boko Haram in Lake Chad Basin countries, Al-Shabaab in Somalia/Kenya, and Islamic State in Mali.
He said those “non-state actors tend to undermine the monopoly of the state over the use of coercive instruments of power as a result of widespread proliferation of small arms and light weapons.’’
“Since 2009, my country Nigeria has been combating terrorism engendered by an Islamic Sect called Boko Haram.
“Members of the Boko Haram sect have carried out series of bombings of public places and killed many innocent citizens.
“The group has over the years been receiving inspiration, training as well as mutual support from other transnational terror groups within and outside Africa.
“Nonetheless, owing to the sustained counter insurgency operations by Nigeria and other countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission which include Benin, Niger, Chad and Cameroon, the Boko Haram terror network has been overwhelmed and the leadership structure is presently decimated,’’ he said.
The minister expressed gratitude to the Russian government for its numerous training and scholarship which have been of immense benefit to Nigerians over the years, as well as recent military hardware procurement initiative.
On the Gulf of Guinea, the minister said Russia’s assistance is needed to curb the incidences of sea robbery, piracy on the seas, hijacking of ships and other ocean-going vessels.
He said adequate policing of the waterways of the gulf would combat large scale pollution, impair incidence of illegal dumping of toxic or radioactive wastes.
Dan-Ali said the pervasive security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea include piracy and armed robbery against ships in the region.
“The region remains increasingly dangerous for seafarers.
“From the International Maritime Bureau Report of 2019, the Gulf of Guinea accounts for all six hijackings worldwide, 13 of the 18 ships fired upon, 130 of the 141 hostages taken globally and 78 of the 83 seafarers kidnapped for ransom in 2018.
“These figures depict the inherent danger to commercial shipping activities in the region,’’ he said.
He promised that Nigeria would create the legal and environmental conditions to accelerate Russian investment in the country, expand trade and achieve better balance in the trade relationship.
According to him, at the moment both countries’ trade ties are lopsided in favour of Russia.
“Russia is the biggest market in Europe, while Nigeria is the biggest market in Africa.
“The trade relations have been below expectation leaving gap for many unexploited potentials.
“Nigeria will also be interested in Russia helping to build nuclear power plants, petroleum pipelines, railways and other infrastructural development investments in oil and gas sector,’’ he said.