20th May, 2014
For the first time since the terrorist group Boko Haram held sway in Nigeria and striking in some of the neighbouring countries, we see a ray of hope with the coming together of five African countries- Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Benin Republic and Republic of Chad- which were last week joined by the European Union, the United Kingdom and France to fashion out ways of curbing insurgency in west and central Africa..
The summit in France had given the presidents of each of the participating African countries the opportunity to present his country’s challenges posed by terrorism and its spread. The participants were also able to come up with strategies aimed at frustrating the activities of the violent group.
At the end of the summit on Saturday in France, they agreed not only to build analysis and response capabilities to enhance security of all populations in the countries, but to implement coordinated patrols, establish a system to gather intelligence in order to support their operation, establish mechanisms for information exchange on trafficking of weapons and establish mechanism for border surveillance. They also want the United States, Britain, France and the European Union to continue with support for the continent through technical expertise, training programmes and support for the border area management programmes.
While we welcome this summit and think it is good for the continent, we also hope that the outcome is implemented full scale so that Nigeria and its neighbours would begin to live in peace and harmony again. In the past, just like the Nigerian government had played down the issues of insecurity, its neighbouring countries had seen the Boko Haram menace as a Nigerian challenge. Thus they folded their arms while the sect launched attacks that had resulted in the death of thousands of Nigerians. It also resulted in the abduction of over 200 girls from Chibok in Borno State on 14 April.
A major problem Nigeria had in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgents is that the members of the group are scattered in forests which stretch from the Northeastern part of Nigeria into these neighbouring countries. They emerge from these forests, attack villages in the hinterland and disappear most times without a trace.
The group also often recruited their members from these neighbouring countries. The arrest of some suspected members of the sect has proven that not all of them are from Nigeria. President of Cameroon, Paul Biya, confirmed this at the summit when he said the Boko Haram insurgency was not limited to Nigeria but the continent.
The positive resolution by the heads of states that attended the summit in France would go a long way in stamping out insurgency from the troubled region if faithfully implemented.