The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai has announced the establishment of the Nigerian Army 8 Division located in the northern part of Borno.
Buratai disclosed this while delivering a lecture titled `Nigerian Army: Challenges and Future Perspectives’, at the National Defence College, Abuja.
He said the establishment of the new division was part of strategic plan by the army to boost military operations against terrorists particularly in areas around the Lake Chad Basin.
It would be recalled that the Nigerian Army command in August 2013 during administration of Goodluck Jonathan established the 7th Infantry Division in Maiduguri to boost the military’s counter-insurgency operation in the North-East.
Though detail of the new establishment was not disclosed, Buratai said the division would soon become fully operational with logistics and manpower deployments.
He added that plans were underway to establish another division to be known as the Nigerian Army 6 Division with Headquarters in the South-South region of the country.
Buratai said the establishment of the new divisions was 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 the establishment of the additional formations would bring the number of divisions in the Nigerian Army to eight.
“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.
“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.
“We have established the 8 division located in the northern part of Borno specifically to clear the area of the remaining terrorists elements while another division, 6 Division, will be established in the South-South,’’ he said.
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 said 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 said 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.
Buratai added that contemporary national security needs and Nigeria’s territorial size required more than the army presently had in terms of personnel strength.
He said the citing of the Special Forces Training Centre in Buni Yadi in Yobe, one of the theatres of the Boko Haram war, was an indication of the army’s determination to end insurgency.
Buratai 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.
In an interview with newsmen, the Commandant of the National Defence College, Rear Admiral Samuel Alade said Buratai’s presentation would be invaluable to the strategic plan of the Armed Forces.
He said participants of the National Defence College’s strategic leadership course would draw valuable lessons from the experience shared by the army chief.