President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday requested leaders of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and Benin Republic to allow Nigeria to command the troops of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), which will fight Boko Haram
He also promised to pay up the $100 million pledged by Nigeria to fund the Force.
The President spoke during the Extra-Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Commission and Benin at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
The meeting, which started around 10:50 a.m, was attended by Presidents Mahamadou Issoufou (Niger Republic); Idriss Deby Itno (Chad) and Yayi Boni (Benin Republic).
Cameroonian President Paul Biya was represented by his Minister of Defence, Mr. Mebe Alain
Buhari said: “Permit me, at this juncture, to recall that Nigeria has already pledged the sum of $100 million for the smooth take off of the MNJTF. I hereby reassure you that my government will keep faith with this promise.”
Stressing the need to strengthen cross border patrol and intelligence sharing, he said efforts must be targeted at limiting the insurgents’ capacity to access funds and weapons.
He disagreed with the six months duration for the change of the MNJTF command and control structure.
He said: “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 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.”.
Buhari urged the leaders to allow Nigeria control the force throughout the period of the war against Boko Haram.
He said: “I am inclined, on account of the above, to suggest for your excellencies 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.”
He added: “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 finalise 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 29th May 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 thank you visits to the Presidents of Niger and Chad. This important assignment was however interrupted because I had to honor the invitation extended to me by the G-7 member states to attend their meeting in Germany.”
He intends to continue his thank you visits to the remaining Lake Chad Basin Commission member states shortly.
Britain has announced steps to support Nigerian forces in the Boko Haram battle.
Prime Minister David Cameron told the House of Commons that the support “is part of our global commitment to developing security and stability”.
He spoke of “plans to deploy more Short Term Training Teams to the region alongside an increase to the permanent number of military personnel based there.
“They will provide further support to Nigeria in improving security and combating Boko Haram, contribute staff to the Multi National Joint Taskforce Headquarters in Chad and advise on campaign planning and operational leadership.”
Britain also plans deployment of up to 125 military personnel to provide further training to Iraqi security forces. The move, predominantly aimed at countering the threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), will build on the work already undertaken in training 1,000 members of Iraqi forces.
Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon said: “This increase in support for Nigeria will help a valued partner to improve security and combat Boko Haram.
“Alongside recent decisions to deploy additional troops to Iraq and to commit an additional 500 to NATO’s Very High Readiness Task Force in Europe, this underlines our global commitment to building security.”