By Kingsley Omonobi & Ben Agande
ABUJA — As part of the strategy to fight the Boko Haram insurgency, President Muhammadu Buhari will today host a meeting of Heads of State and Presidents of the Lake Chad Basin Commission in Abuja. In a bid to perfect Nigerian position for today’s meeting, President Buhari yesterday held a closed door meeting with the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh and the Chief of Naval Staff, Usman Jubrin, at Defence House.
Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Mr Ismali Aliyu, said they came to brief the president on preparations for a scheduled meeting of Heads of State and Presidents today in Abuja to discuss on the Lake Chad Basin Commission.
He said that defence chiefs and Ministers of Defence of the member countries of the commission had earlier met necessitating today’s meeting of presidents. According to him, “the meeting held between the Chiefs of Defence Staff of the Lake Chad Basin and Ministers of Defence culminated in the presidents’ meeting tomorrow (today).
What were discussed
“We discussed the issue of the operationalization of the Multi National Joint Task Force and the siting of its headquarters in N’Djamena and the contribution from various states. The objective was to fight the insurgency within that region for the purpose of peace, security and prosperity
Among leaders expected to attend today’s meeting which will hold at the presidential lounge of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport are Paul Biya of Cameroon, Mohammadou Issoufou of Niger, Idriss Deby of Chad and the President of Benin Republic, Boni Yayi. Benin Republic is, however, not a member of the commission.
$30m needed to set up MNJTF hqts in Chad
Meanwhile, Executive Secretary of LCBC, Sanusi Imran Abdullahi, disclosed yesterday that about $30 million is required to set up the MNJTF headquarters in the next 12 months in Ndjamena, the Chadian capital.
Abdullahi who disclosed this at the meeting of Ministers of Defence, Chiefs of Defence Staff and heads of security of member countries also noted that the commission had articulated an emergency development programme for the 38.5 billion francs or about N13 billion for implementation in communities affected by Boko Haram insurgency.
The executive secretary said: “It has become imperative to quickly deploy the multi-national joint Task Force (MNJTF HQ) to coordinate operations of the troops and sustain the offensive on the Boko Haram terrorist group who should not be given the time and space to re-group as this may constitute a much more potent threat than has been witnessed.”
He added that the troop contributing countries are to be responsible for equipping and sustenance of their battalions. On the directive of the heads of state and governments of LCBC countries to develop an emergency development initiative to be implemented in areas affected by the insurgency, Abdullahi said: “We have articulated an emergency development programme for 38.5 billion francs or about N13 billion to be implemented.
“The programmes will be done in the Region of Lac and Hadjar Lamis in Chad Republic; Far North region in Cameroon; regions of Diffa and Zinda in Niger Republic; Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe, Jigawa, and Kano States in Nigeria; Prefectures of Nana Mambere, Ouham Pende and Nana Gribizi in Central African republic.
“The overall objective of this programme which will last 18 months in the first phase is the reduction of poverty through the implementation of development activities in the regions to combat the causes and conditions that favour the development of insecurity.
“These include undertaking actions that generate revenues through micro agro-pastoral, business enterprises; strengthening the capacity of youth, women and vulnerable groups by financing social and professional integration as well a raising awareness in the Lake Chad region on security in order to create a climate of trust, conducive to the improvement of their living environment and education.