Boko Haram insurgency(The American Interest)

The United States (U.S.) is set to join forces

with the Muhammadu Buhari administration

in the battle against Boko Haram.

The Obama administration will send a team to

Nigeria in the next few weeks to discuss with

the government ways to renew cooperation in

the fight against the sect, a senior U.S.

diplomat said yesterday.

In N’Djamena, the capital of Chad yesterday,

President Buhari and his host President Idris

Derby pledged to pursue the sect members

“everywhere”.

They spoke after a bilateral meeting on the

activities of the sect, which has been

operating across the borders.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was at

Buhari’s inauguration last week. This

underscores U.S. interest in working with his

government.

Tensions emerged between the former

government of President Goodluck Jonathan

and the Obama administration last year over

corruption and human rights abuses by the

military in its campaign to crush Boko Haram.

In his inauguration speech, Buhari vowed to

defeat Boko Haram and called the group,

which pledged allegiance to the Islamic State

in Syria and Iraq in March, “mindless” and

“godless”.

”With the new government, we are optimistic

we can reset the relationship,” U.S. Assistant

Secretary of State for Africa Linda Thomas-

Greenfield told a congressional hearing. “We

want to work with him and have expressed

that to him.”

She said Buhari had committed both publicly

and privately to “do everything possible to

address the situation in terms of resources

and staff” to tackle Boko Haram, which

launched its insurgency in 2009.

U.S. officials have said the United States

could send more advisers to Nigeria to train

its military and help boost the economy, the

largest in Africa, through more investment in

its oil and gas sector.

Thomas-Greenfield said the United States

was encouraged that Buhari’s first trips were

to neighbors Niger and Chad, which are part of

a multi-national force being set up to fight

Boko Haram’s insurgency in the Lake Chad

region.

Nigeria’s Major-General Tukur Buratai has

been appointed to head the new force, which

will be funded partly by the international

community.

”He is someone we have worked with and

someone we feel will be a positive force on the

multinational task force,” she said, adding

that Buhari was still studying options to fund

a stepped- up effort to tackle Boko Haram.

A communiqué issued at the end of President

Buhari’s one-day visit to Chad said both

leaders agreed on the need to quickly make

the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF)

fully operational to effectively combat

terrorism in Northeast Nigeria and

“everywhere” that Boko Haram operates.

The two Presidents called on the international

community to support the Lake Chad Basin

Commission and neigbouring countries to

combat terrorism and insurgency.

“Both Heads of State agreed that the war on

Boko Haram should be supported by

emergency development initiatives in areas

affected by this insurgency group.

“This will help to overcome the harmful effects

faced by local populations,” the communiqué

said.

President Buhari paid tribute to the gallantry

of Chadian soldiers who have engaged in

operations against Boko Haram and condoled

the families of their comrades who were killed

in action.

While in the Chadian capital, President Buhari

also met with Gen. Buratai, who has just been

appointed Force Commander of the MNJTF

whose headquarters will be in N’Djamena.

Yesterday’s visit was the second of the two-

leg trip by Buhari to neigbouring countries to

galvanise them for the final onslaught against

Boko Haram. Buhari was in Niger Republic on

Wednesday.

Buhari noted that the security of Nigeria and

her neighbours were intrinsically linked,

adding that it is very essential that they

cooperate on security issues in a robust and

sustained manner.

The President said when it becomes fully

deployed and functional, the MNJTF, which

comprises Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon,

will secure and stabilise all the areas affected

by the Boko Haram insurgency.

He reaffirmed his conviction that with greater

cooperation among Nigeria and neighbouring

countries, the Boko Haram insurgency will be

brought to an end very soon.

Buhari thanked Chad for her invaluable

support in the fight against insurgency and

terrorism.

He said: “Your troops have stood shoulder to

shoulder and fought gallantly with ours in the

fight against the forces of evil.

“This is a remarkable show of good

neighbourliness, which we must reinforce in

the years ahead.”

The President said the harrowing images of

displaced citizens of both countries, in search

of safety and succour must spur their

governments and others in the sub-region to

do more “to restore their dignity and give

them the relief they need”.

On the bilateral relations between Nigeria and

Chad, Buhari noted that both countries were

bound by “nature’’, adding that they must

therefore work together to find lasting

solutions to border management, migration

and movement of goods and services.

The President also thanked President Deby for

attending his inauguration ceremony on May

29 in Abuja, adding that he would return to

Nigeria with the assurance that Nigeria and

Chad are poised to intensify their cooperation.

President Deby praised Buhari for his “wise

decision’’ to relocate the Nigerian Military

Command centre from Abuja to Maiduguri.

The Chadian President said that the decision,

which was announced in President Buhari’s

inaugural address, was a right step towards

restoring peace and security to states affected

by terrorism, and the sub-region.

He assured President Buhari that Chad will

continue to work with Nigeria to achieve

lasting peace and security in the sub-region,

given their historic, cultural and economic

ties.

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