Nigeria’s Navy will be receiving nearly two dozen new acquisitions under the 2012 defence budget, including two offshore patrol ships and numerous patrol craft, as it modernises and expands its military.
Nigeria’s 2012 Defence Budget Proposal makes provision for two offshore patrol vessels (N6.78 billion/US$42 million), three Shaldag Mk III fast patrol craft, three 24 metre coastal patrol craft and six 17 metre Manta Mk II ASD littoral interceptors (total cost N2.2 billion/US$13.7 million). In addition, the purchase of helicopter and ship spares will amount to N1.04 billion (US$6.5 billion), according to Budget Office documents.
The FY2011 defence budget approved the acquisition of two offshore patrol vessels, the refurbishment of six coastal patrol craft by TP Marine of Holland and the delivery of nine Manta Mk II ASD craft.
In strengthening its military capabilities, Nigeria has paid particular attention to improving security in the Niger Delta and off its 780 kilometre long coast, where it has numerous oil installations. In March 2007 it signed a US$73 million contract for two ATR 42MP maritime patrol aircraft to join its Dornier 128s. The first ATR was delivered in December 2009 and the second in March 2010.
Late last year the Nigerian Navy received the former US Coast Guard Cutter Chase (WHEC-718), which was given to the Nigerian Navy as an excess defence article under the US Foreign Assistance Act, and renamed NNS Thunder. Nigeria’s Navy is seeking government approval to acquire up to 49 ships and 42 helicopters over the next ten years to police the nation’s territorial waterways and Gulf of Guinea, according to Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ishaya Ibrahim.
The Nigerian Navy has received 10 donated vessels to enhance operations in the Niger Delta. The navy has also established new base in Lokoja known as NNS Lugard and another in Ikot Abasi known as NNS Jubilee.
The total Nigerian federal government budget this year amounts to N4.749 trillion (US$30.64 billion), of which N921.21 billion (US$5.947 billion) has been allocated to defence and security, making it Nigeria’s largest ever defence and security budget and making the nation the largest spender in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) bloc.
The Nigerian Army has been allocated N122 billion (US$766 million), the Navy N69 billion (US$433 million) and the Air Force N64 billion (US$402 million) this year, reports the Nigerian Budget Office. According to Nigeria Intel, the Nigerian armed forces today number around 76 000. The army is the largest arm and is given the most attention in terms of defence spending. It numbers around 60 000 personnel while the navy has about 7 000 and the air force 9 000.
Military spending in Nigeria has been increasing over the last several years as the government continues with a programme to improve professionalism within the military, combat domestic security threats, modernise its equipment and expand peacekeeping operations. In 2009 Nigeria spent US$1.864 billion on defence, US$2.112 billion in 2010 and US$2.784 billion last year.
The rapidly growing defence budget comes at a time when the country is facing rising security challenges, notably from the Boko Haram militia, who have killed hundreds of people in attacks across the country this year. According to Nigeria’s Daily Trust, billions have been allocated to Nigeria’s Police and security services, which are engaged in combating Boko Haram. The services will buy arms and ammunition, vehicles, explosives detectors and surveillance and communication equipment, amongst other items.