Recent scandals surrounding arms procurement have highlighted how corruption in the Nigerian defence sector is threatening Nigerian security. Billions of dollars of equipment meant for soldiers to fight Boko Haram have allegedly been misappropriated by top-level defence and security officials, eroding the armed forces’ ability to respond to conflict and endangering the lives of Nigerian soldiers and citizens.
Notwithstanding the recent positive steps, more systemic reforms are needed if the Nigerian people are to be protected by well-equipped defence forces that operate with integrity. Defence budgets should be subject to open and robust scrutiny to ensure limited resources are spent wisely, particularly given that defence takes up approximately 20% of the overall budget per year. Procurement should be based on a clearly defined national defence strategy, and where possible, should be held through open competition to ensure that the armed forces receive the equipment they need. Personnel systems should reward capability to ensure that those troops that are the highest performers rather than those with connections or money rise to the top.