Nigeria said that despite spending over $1 billion since 2015 to reclaim Boko Haram-held territories in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe States, the country and the Lake Chad Basin’s security remains unstable due to lingering conflicts in Libya, the Central African Republic, and Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.
According to President Muhammadu Buhari, while the country is winning the war against insurgency, the crisis around Nigeria and the Lake Chad basin remains precarious.
Buhari spoke shortly after receiving the Abu Dhabi Peace Forum’s “Award for Strengthening Peace in Africa” in Nouakchott, the Mauritanian capital.
“Although we are winning the war, however, as a country and sub-region, we continue to be negatively impacted by events in Libya, the Central Africa Republic, The Sahel and the war in Ukraine,” Buhari told his counterparts at the African Conference for Peace, 2023.
The President’s argument was based on the free flow of “all kinds of small and light weapons” orchestrated by foreign fighters.
He also reasoned that the inactivity of African youths and their lack of participation in discussing issues that concern them provides a steady recruitment pool for extremist organizations wreaking havoc across the continent.
As a result, he urged leaders to prioritize youth development, with greater seriousness and actionable ideas for promoting skill acquisition while discouraging idleness.
This is according to a statement signed by the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, titled ‘President Buhari receives award for African peace, lays out conditions for future harmony.’
The President said, “When I assumed power in 2015, Boko Haram held about two-thirds of Borno State, half of Yobe State, and a couple of local government areas in Adamawa State, all in the North-East of Nigeria.
“We have been able to retrieve these swathes of territories by investing over $1 billion to acquire hard and software weaponry from the US and other friendly countries to carry out sustained operations against insurgency since 2015.”
According to him, these monies would have been better spent on critical infrastructure such as healthcare and education.
“Our Armed Forces and those of our partners in the Multinational Joint Task Force (consisting of Chad, Niger, Cameroon, Benin Republic and Nigeria) continue to demonstrate great bravery while paying the ultimate price in securing our collective freedom.
“Despite the difficult times we face, we continue to spend very scarce and lean resources to ensure that we have a well-resourced military force to take on this task. Ideally, these are resources that could be spent on education, healthcare, infrastructure and other social services, but without peace, we have learned the hard way that our children cannot go to school or seek good healthcare,” the President stated.
He explained that the scenario caused severe instability and served as a litmus test for Lake Chad Basin Commission member countries in devising ways to restore livelihoods in the region.
The President urged his counterparts to step up efforts to limit and possibly prevent the spread of small arms and light weapons, as well as the influx of foreign fighters into Africa.
Buhari told the current AU chairperson, Senegalese President, Macky Sall, that the next Union Summit must find a pragmatic African approach to resolving the country’s decade-long instability, which has made it a haven for all kinds of weapons and foreign fighters.