The Nigerian Army says it will increase its personnel strength to 200,000 and establish two new divisions in Borno and Niger Delta in the next few years to adequately deal with emerging national security challenges.
Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, made the disclosure on Wednesday while delivering a lecture entitled: “Nigerian Army: Challenges and Future Perspectives”, at the National Defence College (NDC), Abuja.
“Emerging threats to the security of our nation which has been aggravated by the proliferation of armed groups has added to the task of the military in protecting the lives of Nigerians and the integrity of its territory.
“The focus of the Nigerian Army, today, is to find lasting solutions to these contemporary threats posed by the activities of the armed groups and their allies,” he said.
He reiterated the commitment of the Army in decimating the Boko Haram insurgents and ending their bloody campaigns in the north. “The Nigerian Army therefore remains poised to the extermination of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria; today, they can no longer hold any territory as it used to be in the past that is why they have resorted to the use of IEDs to hit soft targets,” he said.
Buratai noted that for the second time in the space of three years since the counter-terrorism and counter-Insurgency operations against the Boko Haram terrorists in parts of the North East, the Nigerian Army has established a new division in Borno State.
According to the army chief, the establishment of the 8 Division, Nigerian Army, located in the northern part of Borno State, was part of strategic plan by the army to boost military operations against terrorists particularly in areas around the Lake Chad Basin.
Buratai stressed that the 7 Infantry Division established in August 2013 in Maiduguri to boost the military’s counter-insurgency operation in the North-East would soon become fully operational with logistics and manpower deployments.
He also disclosed that plans were underway to establish another division to be known as the 6 Division, Nigerian Army, with headquarters in yet to be identified location in the South-South region of the country.
“The establishment of the new divisions is part of a strategic plan to improve on the Nigerian Army’s operational capabilities in the face of emerging threats to national security”, he said, stressing that establishment of the additional formations would bring the number of divisions in the Nigerian Army to eight.
“We have established the 8 Division located in the northern part of Borno specifically to clear the area of the remaining terrorist elements while another division, 6 Division, will be established in the South-South,” he stated.
In a related development, Buratai said the army would embark on an ambitious expansion programme to address manpower needs of the force to respond appropriately to contemporary threats to national security.
He revealed that the army planned to increase its personnel strength from its present 100,000 strength-force to slightly above 200,000 in the next eight years.
According to him, 12,000 personnel would be recruited in 2016 alone to fill the vacancies created as a result of the new establishments in the army.
He explained that the Army’s expansion programme was aimed at boosting its response capacity while stressing that its capabilities to effectively deal with its present challenges were however not in doubt.
According to him, the contemporary national security needs and Nigeria’s territorial size required more than the army presently had in terms of personnel strength.
Buratai noted that the citing of the Special Forces Training Centre in BuniYadi in Yobe, which is one of the theatres of the Boko Haram war, was an indication of the army’s determination to end insurgency.
He identified Nigeria’s weak industrial base, the effect of climate change on the environment and Nigeria’s porous borders as some of the factors fuelling armed conflict in Nigeria.
By Olisemeka Obeche