President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday appealed to the international community to support Nigeria and the sub-region in tackling growing security challenges to avoid spillovers.
President Buhari made the appeal in a virtual meeting with the US Secretary of State, Mr Anthony Blinken.
Nigeria is in the spotlight over rising security challenges in all parts of the country including terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and agitations for secession.
Hundreds of people have been killed recently amid suggestions that security forces have been overwhelmed and therefore the need to seek for foreign support to stem the tide.
Though President Buhari did not give details on the nature of support Nigeria and other African countries need to address their security challenges, he nonetheless urged the United States to reconsider relocating the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) from Stuttgart, Germany, to Africa, nearer the Theatre of Operation. President Buhari said AFRICOM, which partners with countries to counter transnational threats should be relocated to Africa to strengthen ongoing efforts to check the security situation.
“The security challenges in Nigeria remain of great concern to us and impacted more negatively, by existing complex negative pressures in the Sahel, Central and West Africa, as well as the Lake Chad Region.
“Compounded as the situation remains, Nigeria and her security forces remain resolutely committed to containing them and addressing their root causes. The support of important and strategic partners like the United States cannot be overstated as the consequences of insecurity will affect all nations hence the imperative for concerted cooperation and collaboration of all nations to overcome these challenges.
“In this connection, and considering the growing security challenges in West and Central Africa, Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region and the Sahel, weighing heavily on Africa, it underscores the need for the United States to consider re-locating AFRICOM Headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany to Africa and near the Theatre of Operation,’’ he said in a statement issued by his spokesman, Femi Adesina.
President Buhari also congratulated Blinken on his appointment by President Joe Biden and commended the United States for the decision to repeal the immigration restriction known as the “Muslim ban’’, re-joining the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
The Secretary of State, who said he was pleased to make Nigeria part of his “first virtual visit to Africa,” noted that Nigeria and the United States of America, share a lot in bilateral issues.
He added that he would be delighted to build on the foundation that was laid between the two countries over 60 years ago, disclosing that areas of discussion with Nigeria would include “how to build our economies back after the COVID-19 pandemic, security for vulnerable communities and climate issues.”
Experts told the Daily Trust last night that the help could come in form of intelligence report from the US, UK and other advanced societies, ease in procuring fighting equipment, training for the Nigerian troops and in extreme cases “boots on the ground.”
“The final option which entails physical presence of troops from the advanced countries to fight in the war zone is very unlikely,” said Abubakar Sani, a security expert.
“The president should have been straight forward in his request by asking the US and others to remove some restrictions for us in getting arms under the guise of human rights violations. He should have asked them to also give us timely information on the whereabouts of those terrorising us.
“On the other hand, we should strengthen our ties with Niger, Chad and Cameroon and if need be, recall the mercenaries in South Africa that this government asked to leave in 2015. Let them come back and fight while we recruit more hands to fill the vacuum created over the years in our security architecture,” he said.