President Muhammadu Buhari has pledged to offset the pledge of $100 million (about N21.5 billion) for the funding of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) as promised by the Nigerian government.
Nigeria had made the commitment under former President Goodluck Jonathan to provide the task force with the funds in supporting its operation.
Speaking at an Extra-Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and Benin at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, President Buhari also canvassed that Nigeria permanently command the task force until Boko Haram insurgency is defeated and not six monthly as recommended by other countries in the commission.
Buhari told the leaders: “I hereby reassure you that my government will keep faith with this promise.”
Making a case for Nigeria to command the MNJTF, President Buhari said leaders should jettison the call for Nigeria to take charge of the command structure of the MNJTF in just the next six months.
He explained: “While I agree that this is a joint operation with shared responsibilities, I am, however, of the opinion that military operations that are subjected to a rapid turnover of command and control structures, six months duration, as it is being proposed in the documents before us, do not augur well for effectiveness and efficiency.
“Such a process will undermine, even if it not intended, the military capacity to sustain the push against the insurgents, who also have the uncanny ability to adapt and rejig their operational strategies.”
Wants Nigeria to control force
He urged the leaders to allow Nigeria control the force throughout the period of the war against Boko Haram.
Buhari said: “I am inclined, on account of the above, to suggest for your excellences consideration that Nigeria retains the position of the Force Commander of the MNJTF for the period of the war effort.
“This command will be to the effectiveness of military strategy, since Nigeria will be providing the bulk of the troops and the main theatre of the war is on Nigerian soil.
“Our meeting today is premised on common resolve and commitment of member states of Lake Chad Basin Commission and Benin to maintain the momentum in degrading the capacity of the insurgents until they are completely defeated.
“It is also going out with urgency to mitigate the suffering which has been imposed on our civilian population by the nefarious activities of the insurgents and the terrorists.
“Our meeting today provides us an excellent opportunity to finalize the instruments of the operations of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) in order to give life to our joint military campaign to decisively defeat the insurgents.
“You will recall in my inaugural address on May 29, 2015, I affirmed that I will consult regularly with heads of government of our immediate neighborhood and I have within four days of my assumption of duty as president embarked on a thank you visits to the Presidents of Niger and Chad. This important assignment was, however, interrupted because I had to honour the invitation extended to me by the G-7 member states to attend their meeting in Germany.
Buhari said he intends to continue his thank you visits to the remaining Lake Chad Basin Commission member states very shortly.
President Muhammadu Buhari also said he had extended the invitation to submit requests of the needs of the country in the fight against Boko Haram asked by the G7 to member nations of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC).
Buhari said this while fielding questions from newsmen at the presentation of the communiqué of the meeting of the Presidents and Heads of Government of the LCBC in Abuja.
“I was personally invited by G7 and I was impressed by the tremendous sympathy they have for this sub region: LCBC. Their humanitarian approach to the issue to say the least is very impressive. All of them, not just in Europe but Presidents Barack Obama, Angela Markel of Germany and Hollande of France are all willing to help us. They have actually asked me to discuss with their Chiefs of Defence Staff or their Ministries of Defence or to talk to them directly on what we need.
“I brought this case to our meeting here and I told them that Nigeria has worked quite far and I asked for a five-hour meeting with my service chiefs and I asked them to produce a comprehensive logistic requirement. I also advised my colleagues that they should be prepared to produce their logistic requirements.
“But after the African Union meeting, we will agree on what to present to the G7. They are very anxious to help us, especially when Boko Haram declared their loyalty to ISIS.
“You know what ISIS is doing to the world, not only to the Gulf states but to the Middle East.”
Buhari also said the cross border war against insurgency was not limited by troops fighting in their respective territories as Chad and Niger soldiers were already in Nigeria to flush out the insurgents.
FG to rebuild churches, mosques destroyed by insurgents
He said the foreign troops had chased out Boko Haram and secured Nigerian territories. He also said that the troops of the joint command were dedicated to the operations and commended their efforts.
The President said that his administration would sustain the peace in the country after the war on insurgency but appealed to those displaced by the insurgency to return to their communities for rehabilitation.
He added that churches, mosques and shops destroyed would be rehabilitated as well by the administration.
The President also said that the military was investigating the alleged human rights abuses levelled against the Nigerian Armed Forces by Amnesty International.
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