The United States yesterday said it handed over 24 Mine- Resistant Armour-Protected Vehicles (MRAP) to the Army to boost the war against Boko Haram, the vehicles, donated in line with its Excess Defence Articles Programme, were said to be among those retrieved from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Excess Defence Articles Programme is designed to transfer excess military equipment from the U.S. to foreign governments or international organisations to help with modernisation of partner nations’ military capabilities.
The vehicles became part of the US Army’s excess following the downsizing of the United States military, as well as the country’s withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, said US Embassy’s Defence Attaché, Colonel Patrick Doyle, who represented Ambassador James Entwistle.
However, about 50 per cent of the vehicles are faulty, with no spare parts to repair them for quick deployment in the war zone.
Source gathered on Tuesday that it would cost the military millions in dollars to fix and equip the MRAP to standard use, especially because the spare parts could only be bought from the original manufacturers in the U.S.
Manufactured in 2008, the minimum carriage capacity of each vehicle is five persons and can conveniently carry anti-air misiles, as well as M-15 calibre machine guns. It can withstand attacks from Improvised Explosives Devices (IEDs), dynamites and bombs.
The vehicles also have the capacity to inflate tyres, thereby eliminating unforseen stress caused by flat tyres.
Defence Minister Gen. Dan Ali said the vehicles would help protect troops against IEDs and help in the movement of men with little or no casualties.
Ali, who was represented by the Chief of Operations, Defence Headquarters, Major -Gen. Barry Ndiomu, noted that the donation was timely given the challenges in the Northeast.
He, however, stated that some of the vehicles were not serviceable, urging the United States to do more by providing the army with spare parts.
“We appreciate what the US has done but like Oliver Twist, we will appreciate if more is done. The vehicles came without spare parts. Not all of them are serviceable. The U.S. should provide the spares to enable us repair those that need to be serviced.
In his remark during the event at the Ikeja Cantonment, Doyle said eight more of the vehicles would be shipped to Nigeria.
“These vehicles provide increased protection from improvised explosive devices, roadside bombs and small arms fire, while offering more manouverability and better fuel economy than other types of armoured personnel carriers.
“The U.S. government donated the Armoured vehicles through the Excess Defence Articles Programme. The Nigerian military arranged for transportation from the port to Lagos. Nigeria is in the process of receiving an additional eight MRAPs through this programme, valued at approximately $7.4 million.
“Today’s equipment donation represents part of the continuing U.S. commitment to Nigeria and its neighbours to counter Boko Haram’s senseless acts of terror and promote regional security.
“The United States provides advisors, intelligence, training, logistical support and equipment to our African partners as they work to defeat Boko Haram.
“We also support those affected by Boko Haram’s violence through ongoing humanitarian aid and victim support services. The United States will continue working with our partners in the region to identify new opportunities to restore order in the Lake Chad Basin region,” he said.
While fielding questions from reporters, he said the vehicles were provided in the condition they were when Nigeria inspected them.
He said: “The programme provided equipment to partner nations in the conditions that they are when the nations saw them. So, the Nigerian Army inspected the vehicles a few months back and selected the best they could find.
“Originally, we agreed to allow them to have 32 vehicles. Twent-five are in front of you today. Many of these vehicles will need some work.
“Probably about half of them are in good working condition but will need minor work. Others will need some body, electrical works.
“The reason we have excess defence article programmes is because we are downsizing forces in our military. We have left Iraq with our forces and have downsized forces out of Afghanistan.
“So, these vehicles were gladly provided when Nigerian Army asked.
“The repairs of the vehicles are up to the Nigerian government to do that. They can repair them on their own, but of course, the spare parts are particular to these vehicles and can be got only from the manufacturers.
“We have been discussing on this and we are working out conditions on how that can be done. The easiest way to do that is to open a government to government case, where we can work with them to ensure they get the correct parts and in a timely manner from the correct manufacturers.
“We have not done the estimate of what it will cost the Nigerian government to fix the vehicles,” he said.