NIGERIA and Russia have signed a military cooperation agreement that involves Moscow supplying Abuja with equipment and training its troops as part of an expanded cooperative agreement between the two nations.
Under the terms of the military-technical cooperation agreement, a wide range of areas were covered under which Russia will assist Nigeria to combat the war against terrorism. Among other things, the agreement provides a legal framework for the supply of military equipment, the provision of after sales services, the training of personnel in respective educational establishments and technology transfer.
Apparently, President Muhammadu Buhari had expressed interest in such a pact with Russia as far back as 2019 when he met with his President Vladimir Putin at a Russia-Africa summit. At the time, the Nigerian ambassador to Russia said President Buhari felt Russia could help defeat the Boko Haram Islamic insurgency in the northeast of the country.
Nigeria already uses some Russian fighter jets and helicopters, alongside military equipment purchased from Western countries such as the US. However, in July US lawmakers had put a hold on a proposal to sell almost $1bn worth of weapons to Nigeria over concerns about possible human rights abuses by the government.
Equipment affected by this decision included 12 attack helicopters after the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee raised eyebrows. It is believed that this is what prompted Nigeria to switch towards the Russians.