Ahead of the December presidential deadline for the nation’s armed forces to end the activities of the Boko Haram sect, the Presidency has said Nigeria will not seek the help of foreign mercenaries.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, disclosed this in an interview with our correspondent on Saturday.
He was responding to a question from our correspondent on whether or not President Muhammadu Buhari would ask the military to seek external help in view of recent attacks by the sect.
Adesina, said it was uncharacteristic of the President to direct the military to seek external help in form of mercenaries.
He said Buhari’s position had always been that the nation’s military has the capacity to end insurgency in the country, having performed creditably well in peace-keeping missions in many countries.
Adesina insisted that while the President would appreciate foreign support in terms of equipment, trainings and intelligence, he would not be favourably disposed to mercenaries.
The presidential spokesman said, “The position of the President has always been that he believes the military has the capacity to fight terrorism.
“President Buhari has always made it clear that Nigeria will appreciate support in terms of equipment, training and intelligence. The support the President is seeking is definitely not in terms of manpower or what you will call mercenaries.”
Meanwhile, the United States’ government has described the President’s goals towards countering terrorism and ending Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East as ambitious.
This was stated during a recent briefing at the Washington Foreign Press Centre in the US.
According to the US Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Todd Chapman, America will continue to support Nigeria to counter Boko Haram.
Chapman said, “We have had some security assistance programmes that have been very active. We just completed some training through our Global Security Contingency Fund, which is a $40m effort to help counter Boko Haram.
The Obama administration authorised the use of presidential drawdown authority to provide another $45m in support to the countries fighting Boko Haram. And this is all on top of an additional $50m that we had already provided to the region to help with equipment training and logistics systems.”
He added, “President Buhari has set ambitious goals for himself. I’ll leave it up to others to determine whether or not those goals can be met. But we are committed to supporting them as they counter the threat.
We heard many stories while we were there (in Nigeria) of some of the horrors that are being perpetrated in the North-East and elsewhere in Nigeria. And clearly, this government, the Buhari administration is committed very strongly to doing all that they can to defeat Boko Haram.”
Speaking at the briefing, another US official, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour, Steven Feldstein, noted that there was more to be done than defeating the insurgents on the battlefield.
Chapman and Feldstein who visited the country recently pointed out that the issue of human rights protection remained critical in addressing the current crisis in the North-East.
“A lot of the rhetoric of what the regime and what the president has said when it comes about the importance of linking human rights protection, civilian protection, with the fight against Boko Haram and other elements is something that we view as essential pillars and cornerstones.
And so for us to be able to have these important conversations with our military counterparts but also with civil society groups, with human rights activists, other government counterparts,’’ Feldstein said.
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