By Guy Martin
The Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai is visiting the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), and was on Tuesday hosted by Chief of the SA Army Lieutenant General Lindile Yam, who discussed cooperation between the two defence forces.
Buratai attended a parade at the SA Army College in Thaba Tshwane this morning, which the SANDF said is part of its efforts to maintain strong military relations between African Union member states. The Chief of Army Staff arrived in South Africa on Saturday and will also visit other chiefs of service, including the Chief of the SA Navy.
At a media briefing following the parade, Buratai said Nigeria and South Africa have enjoyed longstanding defence relations with a defence cooperation agreement in place. Both countries have been participating in training and exercises, such as Exercises Airborne Africa and Exercise Amani Africa, and will continue to do so – in April Nigeria will host the African Land Forces Summit 2018 along with US Army Africa.
Buratai will on Wednesday visit Denel, where he will meet with Denel Land Systems and other South African defence companies – he visited Rheinmetall Denel Munition’s facility outside Potchefstroom on Monday. He said the Nigerian government has invited South Africa to collaborate on developing its defence industry. “We appreciate the South African defence industry – they are well advanced. This is an opportunity to look at various areas to improve defence procurement.” Buratai said Nigeria is interested in communications equipment, logistics management, infantry fighting vehicles and other equipment and solutions.
Buratai said Nigeria is facing terrorism in the northeast of the country and in order to contain the menace needs to collaborate. As a result the country is looking to South Africa’s special forces to strengthen and expand its own. According to Buratai, the South African Army can also assist Nigeria in the areas of artillery, infantry and infantry fighting vehicle capabilities.
For his part, Yam said Nigeria and South Africa are similar as they both seek to play a role in ensuring peace in Africa. South Africa can learn from Nigeria in the areas of jungle warfare and counter-terrorism and is open to helping develop its defence industry, as pursuing projects alone becomes very expensive, especially with depleting budgets.