In this exclusive interview, spokesperson of the Department of State Bureau of African Affairs, United States, Mr. Rodney Ford, argues that the US is doing enough to help Nigeria fight Boko Haram insurgency. He also spoke on US policies on arms transfer.
Nigeria placed an arms order in the US way back early last year. What is the state of the order, given the belief in Nigeria that the US government is yet to supply the arms?
While as a matter of policy we do not discuss internal deliberations regarding arms sales or transfers. We can say that the United States is committed to supporting Nigeria as it addresses the violence caused by Boko Haram. We have provided significant military support to this effort, including intelligence sharing; training of the Nigerian army; millions of dollars worth of military equipment and training to Nigeria each year, through our Foreign Military Sales (including Foreign Military Financing) programme; and we have authorized many millions of dollars more in direct commercial sales of defence equipment for Nigeria, after careful scrutiny to ensure they conform with United States law. The United States is committed to supporting Nigeria as it addresses the violence caused by Boko Haram, and continues to look for ways to deepen its cooperation with Nigeria to help it acquire the systems and skills needed to restore peace and security across Nigeria.
A total of $15 million from the Nigerian government which was meant for procurement of arms from South African arms brokering companies was seized at two intervals at South African airports last year by South African authorities. Information in Nigeria has it that it was the US government that availed South African authorities the information that led to the seizures of the monies. How true is this?
We refer you to the government of South Africa for comment on this issue.
Why did the US government block Israel from selling US-made military choppers to Nigeria, citing fears of misuse when US-made weapons are made available to Iraq, many of which are now in the hands of ISIS?
As a matter of policy, we do not discuss internal deliberations regarding arms sales or transfers.
It is believed that President Jonathan’s thwarting of the US move to establish a military base in the Gulf of Guinea and the Nigerian government’s massive tilting towards China for trade and infrastructure development have something to do with the US negative disposition towards Nigeria in arms procurement from the US and US allies. How true is this?
Completely untrue. The United States has no negative disposition towards Nigeria in arms procurement. The United States remains very engaged at the highest levels with the government of Nigeria across a broad-range of bilateral issues. The United States is committed to supporting Nigeria as it addresses the violence caused by Boko Haram.
So are you saying that Nigeria hasn’t made any formal request to the United States to procure arms?
We have no indications of a formal request by the Nigerian government. I can only say that we are not aware of request for arms from the government that we have not responded to.