Buhari and Macron French President
BreakingColumnistFeaturedHighlightTrending Story

Post-Covid 19 Pandemic, Nigeria and France Must Seize the Chance to Strengthen Military and Economic Ties By Muhammadu Buhari

268

 

By Muhammadu Buhari, President, Federal Republic of Nigeria. 

Today, leaders from across Africa meet in Paris to discuss plans to recover from the impact of a common enemy – COVID-19. But for African nations from across the Sahel region and beyond, the issues are inseparable from the fight against another common enemy which is terrorism. And like the war against the Coronavirus, it is one we are fully united with France in our strong determination to overcome.  

Across the world, conflict and Coronavirus have not been far apart. As governments have struggled to contain COVID, jihadists have taken advantage in the Sahel – the vast arid stretch of territory that lies between the Sahara and Sub-Saharan Africa. Terrorist incidents have become tragically common across Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. Around the Lake Chad Basin, Boko Haram terrorism have taken advantage of the pandemic and pushed back into my country Nigeria, whilst still launching raids and attacks in Chad, Cameroon, and Niger.

We have seen more than once how Boko Haram – which in French means “l’éducation occidentale est un péché” – can regroup, morphing in form and tactics. A matter of only a few years ago, they were reduced to a territory-less group, where once they had controlled an area in Nigeria three times the size of Lebanon. It has demonstrated why pushing against one front can prove futile if groups can simply migrate to ponds of insecurity across porous borders. Yet as instability has spread, so the networks that sustain it have strengthened – whether that be weapons supply chains from Libya, ideological imports of Al-Qaeda and ISIS from the Middle East, or trafficking networks that take money from those escaping instability and feeds it back into the system that generates it.

Meanwhile the infection is spreading further afield and reaching into the heart of Europe and France is not being spared the malignant, with innocents murdered on its streets. In that context, our fate is linked. Hence Paris has been active in this common fight. The French Operation Barkhane has provided critical boots on the ground in shoring up security across our region. Though challenges remain, it has ensured a wide expanse of territory has not descended into lawless playground where terrorists masquerading as fighting for Islam groups can freely flourish and multiply. That assistance has been profoundly appreciated in the region.

 

Buhari and Macron French President

Now Nigeria and France should deepen our anti-terror cooperations if we are to overcome this scourge –   President of Chad. Where for historical ties, support came to Nigeria from the UK, and to the G5 from France, the terrorists do not recognise these border-aligned distinctions. Nigeria and France must be agile and flexible, cooperating cross our borders to cut the head off their groups.

Indeed, we have already done much to strengthen our bond. Intelligence sharing is well developed, along with training against improvised explosives. But there is more we can do in cross-border military exercises and coordinating strategy. At the same time, we know France has borne much of the strain for combating terrorism of the region, and 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.

However, we know that military gains do not provide the whole solution. Without security, economic opportunity remains fragile. Without economic opportunity, the propensity for conflict grows. The solution must therefore be two pronged. If we do improve those conditions, it leaves our people vulnerable to indoctrination, as one is vulnerable to COVID-19 without a vaccine.

In the Sahel, crises converge. Traditionally, this vast arid land has been poorer than its Mediterranean neighbours to the north and fertile land to its South. Now, climate change and environmental degradation squeeze the region of water sources, draining opportunity and increasing competition amongst various groups for scarce resources. The fallout from Libya has flushed the whole region with weapons, making any disputes and competition far more destructive. And it is upon these conditions, the lies and propaganda of terrorists who falsely claim to be Islamists promising salvation can find an audience. Islam is a religion of peace. 

To counteract these, Nigeria and France must focus on initiatives that sustainably spread opportunity far and wide across the Sahel. Transport links across the Sahel have become dilapidated, much of it still the remnants of the colonial era. For the region’s burgeoning young population, reinvigorating these links or building anew is critical. It allows for efficient allocation of labour; the movement of inputs such as seed, fertiliser or equipment to the areas that need it; and freight to take produce or extractives to market or value-add factories.

Now, as the world emerges from the pandemic, we have the chance to build back better. Though we always knew it, COVID-19 underlined how interconnected and interdependent the world is. With that shattering reminder, we can create a world with that idea at its forefront – one that provides security and opportunity for both of us

Leave a comment

Related Articles

Extend AKK gas pipeline project to other northern states, ACF urges Pres. Tinubu

The Arewa Consultative Forum has called on President Bola Tinubu to extend...

NAF air strikes destroy 13 illegal refining sites in Imo, Rivers, and Bayelsa states

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) operation “Delta Safe” has destroyed at least...

Again, Dangote Refinery accuses IOCs of manipulating oil prices to sabotage Nigerian refinery

Mr. Devakumar Edwin, Vice President of Oil and Gas at Dangote Industries...

Tarry on purchase of presidential jets for now, TCM urges FG

Comrade Frank Pius Onyeka, the National Coordinator of the Collective Movement (TCM),...

The president and founder of LoveWorld Incorporated (Christ Embassy), Pastor Chris Oyakhilome,...

Alake presents symbolic gold bars to Pres. Tinubu

The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Dele Alake, has presented gold...

Emirship crisis: Kano govt. allocates N99.9m for Nassarawa mini-palace renovation

In response to the court’s order reinstating him, the Kano State Government...

Christ Embassy fire now under control, says Lagos Fire Service

The Director of Lagos State Fire and Rescue Service, Mrs. Margaret Adeseye,...

Gunmen kidnap police orderly, driver of prominent Rivers monarch

Unknown gunmen have kidnapped a police officer and the driver of a...

Tragedy as robbers invade Abuja estate, kill retired Brigadier General

A deadly robbery attack occurred at the Sunshine Homes estate in Abuja’s...

FG to relocate 29 correctional centres in Lagos, Enugu, Oyo, others- Interior Minister

The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has announced that the Federal Government...

SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive Luxe USB Type-C delivers seamless data storage, transfers solutions for users on the go

In today’s digital age, where capturing and sharing high-definition (HD) and ultra-high-definition...

Ex-Vice President Atiku visits Buhari, Emirs of Daura, Kastina

Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President and presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic...

FAAN launches joint task force to combat touting, enhance airports’ security

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has set up a special...

Lagos Police Command detains two officers for unauthorized operation resulting in civilian’s death

The Lagos State Police Command has taken two police officers into custody...

Unregistered locally brewed tiger nuts drink linked to cholera outbreak in Lagos – LASG

Dr. Kemi Ogunyemi, the Special Adviser on Health to the Lagos State...

Binance Executive Gambaryan has access to quality medical care, Nigerian Govt. tells US Congressmen

The Nigerian Government has refuted allegations that Binance Executive Tigran Gambaryan is...

Gov. Abiodun issues three executive orders, establishes two new agencies, restrains monarchs on land, mining

Ogun Gov. Dapo Abiodun has issued three executive orders to pave the...

CLO, 40 CSOs to IGP: Withdraw policemen from Rivers 23 councils’ secretariats or face mass protests

The Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) and more than 40 allied groups said...

CAF announces new date for 2025 AFCON in Morocco

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) President Patrice Motsepe said on Friday...