Abuja. Worried about the recent escalation of terror incidents and general insecurity in the country, President Muhammadu Buhari has called on France to deepen its anti-terror cooperation with Nigeria in order to defeat terrorists in the Sahel region and beyond.
The 78-year-old Head of State, who is currently in Paris for a visit, was quoted in an opinion article he penned for Le Point, a Paris-based magazine.
The Sahel region includes parts of northern Senegal, southern Mauritania, central Mali, northern Burkina Faso, the extreme south of Algeria, Niger and the extreme northern part of Nigeria. Other areas covered are the extreme northern part of Cameroon and Central African Republic, central Chad, central and southern Sudan, northern South Sudan, Eritrea and northern of Ethiopia.
President Buhari said jihadists had taken advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to unleash terror on innocent people and organisations across the Sahel, especially across Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger as well as around the Lake Chad Basin.
According to him, the Lake Chad Basin is where Boko Haram's terror has festered and spread back into Nigeria, as well as launching attacks in Chad, Cameroon and Niger.
Nigeria and France, he said, should deepen anti-terror cooperation to overcome the scourge – particularly in the aftermath of the death of Chadian President Idriss Déby.
“We know France has borne much of the strain for combating terrorism in the region. We, the leaders of Sahel countries, must also do more to present a unified front to lobby other Western nations, particularly Great Britain and the United States and the European Union for further military and humanitarian assistance,’’ he said.
President Buhari noted that the Libyan crisis had flushed the whole region with weapons, making disputes far more deadly.
“It is upon these conditions, the lies and propaganda of terrorists who falsely claim to be Islamists promising salvation can find an audience,’’ he said.
“The solution must therefore be two pronged. If we do not improve those conditions, it leaves our people vulnerable to indoctrination, as one is vulnerable to Covid-19 without a vaccine,’’ President Buhari said.