By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
President Muhammadu Buhari said yesterday that the ongoing Russia/Ukraine conflict and other violent situations in the Sahel region of West Africa had compounded Boko Haram terrorism in the Lake Chad Basin.
He disclosed this at the 16th Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), held at the Conference Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Buhari, who is also the Chairman of the Summit, said weapons and fighters were already slipping into the region from Russia and Ukraine, adding that this had heightened the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the country.
According to him, this calls for reawakening of the border security of the countries of the region.
He noted that though a lot had been done to decimate the strength of the Boko Haram terror group and other violent extremist groups in the region, terrorists threats still persisted.
He said: “I am glad to inform my dear brothers that in keeping with that decision, the MNJTF has since then, successfully conducted three major operations: Ops‘YANCIN TAFKI (I&II) and Ops Lake Sanity I, with, the fourth one, Ops Lake Sanity II, being planned. The next phase of the operation will take cognizance of lessons learnt from previous exercises and effectively consolidating the gains attained by preceding Ops.
“I am glad to note that during the execution of Ops Lake Sanity I, regrouping terrorists in the Lake Chad Islands were effectively decimated.
“It must, however, be stated that despite the successes recorded by the gallant troops of the MNJTF and the various ongoing national operations in the region, the terrorist threats still lurks in the region.
“Regrettably, the situation in the Sahel and the raging war in Ukraine serve as major sources of weapons and fighters that bolster the ranks of the terrorists in Lake Chad Region. A substantial proportion of the arms and ammunitions procured to execute the war in Libya, continues to find its way to the Lake Chad Region and other parts of the Sahel.
“Weapons being used for the war in Ukraine and Russia are equally beginning to filter to the region.
“This illegal movement of arms into the region has heightened the proliferation of small arms and light weapons which continues to threaten our collective peace and security in the region. There is therefore, the urgent need for expedited collaborative actions by our border control agencies and other security services to stop the circulation of all illegal weapons in the region.”
He further noted that more than the military solution, governments of the region need to complement the ongoing efforts with the provision of sustainable development projects, which he said would make life more conducive for the people and restore their confidence in the State.
“Although terrorist threats have been significantly decimated in the region, it is worthy of note that military actions alone cannot effectively win the war against terrorism. There is the overriding need to complement military operations with the provision of sustainable development projects that will ameliorate the living conditions of the affected people in the region.
“Government presence must be positively felt in the area to restore the confidence of citizens in the ability of the State to protect them and provide basic infrastructure for all.
“It is in view of the foregoing, that the implementation of the Regional Strategy for the Stabilization, Recovery and Resilience of the Boko Haram affected Areas of the region must gain further traction without any delay”, he said.
In his welcome address, the Executive Secretary of the LCBC, Ambassador Mamman Nuhu, disclosed that Nigeria had remitted a total of $209,075,748 to the funding of the MNJTF between 2015 and 2021.
“I want to avail myself of this opportunity to express our deep appreciation to your Excellencies for your unwavering support to your respective MNJTF sectors, regardless of other challenges that equally demand similar support from you.
“Special thanks also to the Chairman of the Summit, for his tireless support to the MNJTF, the last remittance of the sum of $10,500,000 on April 6, 2021, brought the total direct disbursement of Nigeria to the MNJTF to $209,075,748 from 2015 to 2021”, he disclosed.
The event had Presidents and Heads of State of the six member-states in attendance, with the exception of President Paul Biya of Cameroon, who was represented by one of his ministers.
Those in physical attendance were Prof. Faustine Archange TOUADERA, President of the Central African Republic; Mohamed BAZOUM, President and Head of State of Niger Republic; Patrice TALLON, President of the Republic of Benin; Mahamat Idriss Deby ITNO, President of the Transition Military Council of Chad, President of the Republic, Head of State; Mohamed AL-MENFI, Chairman, Presidential Councilof Libya.