Despite loud session in the Senate on September 25, 2014, Thursday, a loan for the Presidency in the amount of USD1,000,000,000 (over N163bn) has been approved. At the same time, the information on priority spendings have been leaked.
According to TheNation, it all started with explanations by the Senate Joint Committee on Finance and Local and Foreign Debt. Speaking on its behalf, Senator Ahmed Makarfi explained that the huge “loan” is not a cash loan. It will be a supply of military hardware to be paid over seven years. At the same time, not every country (Supplier) would agree to such terms.
The second aspect of this loan is that the whole amount will not be released at one moment. The procurements will start only in accordance with needs assessment, by analysing what is really in demand with the defence and security structures of Nigeria.
The senators agreed that modern helicopters are among the most crucial units subject to purchase. The nature of anti- Boko Haram operations, environment, terrain and other conditions require powerful flying machines. Russian-made Mi-35 helicopters are considered as the suitable model.
The Republic of Belarus is believed to be the country which would accept the condition of installmental payment over a-seven year period. The contract for delivery of 12 Mi-35 shall soon be implemented.
An upcoming visit of President Goodluck Jonathan to this Eastern European country this October or November will give a boost to bilateral cooperation between the two sides in all the fields, including defence and security.
It has been also learnt that other hardwares, armaments and equipment would be procured from this and other European countries on same terms.
It would be noted that Nigeria's interest in helicopters and intentions to procure more of modern machines were stimulated by a tragic crash of NAF Mi-35 this July in the troubled Borno State.
President Jonathan ordered immediate replacement for the crashed flying machine. Russian-made models are still the most preferable from all in the market. However, the crisis in Ukraine and subsequent sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation by the Western world may endanger the timely delivery and proper execution of the contract. In this connection, selection of the neutral side is considered as a wise decision.