Nigerian Army will embark on the ambitious expansion programme to address manpower needs of the force in order to respond appropriately to contemporary threats to national security.
According to Lt.-Gen. Buratai, the army plans to increase its size “from its present 100,000 strength force to slightly above 200,000 in the next eight years”.
He made this known while delivering a lecture paper entitled “Nigerian Army: Challenges and Future Perspectives” at the National Defence College, Abuja, on Wednesday.
He said the army’s expansion programme was aimed at boosting its response capacity, stressing that its capabilities to effectively deal with its present challenges were however not in doubt.
Buratai said at least 12,000 soldiers would be recruited and or enlisted into the Army this year, and the tempo would be sustained for the next eight years.
The initial enlistment of 12,000 soldiers in 2016 will be for the purpose of filling the vacancies created as a result of the new establishments in the army in line with the ongoing expansion programme.
Buratai noted that the contemporary national security needs and Nigeria’s territorial size require more than the army presently has in terms of personnel strength.
Towards this end, he said the army had established two more divisions (Nigerian Army 8 and 6 Divisions) to be located in the northern part of Borno and the South-South region respectively.
Buratai said the establishment of the new divisions “is part of a strategic plan by the army to boost military operations against insurgents, particularly in areas around the Lake Chad Basin”.
Already, Borno is home to the 7 Division Nigerian Army, which was created in 2013 in response to then rising wave of Boko Haram insurgency in the state and the Northeast in general.
“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”, Buratai said.
He emphasized that the establishment of the additional Army Divisions would bring the total 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”, he said.