President Muhammadu Buhari has rejected a proposal for an alternate leadership between Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroun and Benin, of a joint military force against Boko Haram.
At a meeting with leaders of the Lake Chad nations Thursday in Abuja, Mr. Buhari insisted Nigeria must be the sole leader of the joint military operation.
He said a proposal that such leadership alternate amongst the participating nations after every six months, may ultimately undermine the joint operations.
The president said his argument should be adopted since Nigeria remains at the centre of the Boko Haram crisis, and will provide the bulk of troops for the operation.
“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,” Mr. Buhari said.
“Such a process will undermine, even if it is 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.
He continued, “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.”
The president’s remarks were disclosed in a press statement released by his office.
It was not immediately clear whether the suggestions were adopted by the other leaders.
The Extra Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and Benin, was attended by the president of Chad, Idris Deby; Niger, Issoufou Mahamadu; Benin, Boni Yayi; and the Defence Minister of Cameroun, Mebe Ngo’o Edgard Alain.
The coalition considered new measures against Boko Haram, responsible for thousands of deaths in Nigeria, and neighbouring countries.
Mr. Buhari thanked the foreign leaders for their help in the fight against the insurgents.
“Nothing has emphasized our common humanity and destinies more than the dastardly crimes against our people by the insurgents, who have maimed and raped our women and children and held our nations in a vicious strangle hold,” he said.
“Our campaign against insurgency must therefore, be directed on all fronts, starting from limiting their capacity to access funds and weapons.
We must, therefore, strengthen our cross border patrols and increase our capacity to gather and share intelligence.
In this regard, I urge that all necessary steps be immediately taken to reinvigorate the Regional Intelligence Fusion Unit (RIFU).”
He thanked the Ministers of Defence of all the countries for coming up with a proposal for the joint military force.
He said Nigeria had promised $100 million for the take-off of the multinational force, and assured the funds will be provided.
He said notwithstanding the pledge, funding still remains a major issue of the campaign.
“I had raised this issue at my meeting with the G7 leaders. While I am encouraged by their support, I also urge you to garner the support of your international friends and partners to sustain this campaign,” he urged the leaders.
“Our campaign against Boko Haram must be seen within the wider context of the global war against terror.
Terrorism has no frontiers and they must, because of the great implication for regional and global peace and security, be defeated.”