Buhari seeks sub-regional collaboration to tackle terrorism



• Onu says Africa is centrepiece of his foreign policy
• ‘We must stop Boko Haram cancer,’ says Biya 

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari yesterday returned to Abuja after a two-day visit to Cameroun, where he had gone to finetune strategies for the final onslaught against the Boko Haram insurgents in the North East.

But to ensure the success of the campaign, he is calling for the involvement of neighbouring countries, noting that Nigeria and they must stand together to defeat and degrade Boko Haram terrorists in the sub-region.

The President, who left Nigeria on Wednesday, spoke at a state dinner at the Unity Palace in Yaounde, to round off his two-day working visit to Cameroun.

He said countries in the sub-region cannot afford to falter in their resolve to get rid of the evils of terrorism. The President’s stance re-echoed yesterday when a leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu disclosed that Africa would be the centre-piece of Nigeria’s foreign policy under the Buhari administration.

Speaking after he received the Pan-African leadership award as “Vanguard for True Democracy” by a seven-man delegation of the African Students Union Parliament (ASUP) in Abuja yesterday, he explained that the resolve was premised on the fact that Nigeria is keen on ensuring the growth and development of the continent of Africa.

A statement from presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina yesterday, quoted Buhari as saying: “We recognise that none of us can succeed alone. In order to win this war, we need the collective efforts of each one of us, standing together as a formidable force for good, to defeat and end these acts of terror against our people.’’

The President told guests at the dinner hosted by President Paul Biya that the security situation in the region presented an opportunity for Nigeria, Cameroun, Chad, Niger and Benin to work together for their common security, peace and socio-economic development.

Let me assure all of my relentless pursuit of all possible means to safeguard Nigeria’s territorial integrity, protect the lives and property of our citizens as well as my commitment to continue to collaborate with Cameroun and our neighbours, within the framework of the Lake Chad Basin Commission. “

The Federal Government of Nigeria is committed to respecting international norms to resolve this matter and to restore normalcy to all the affected areas as soon as possible,’’ he said.

The President, who had earlier on his arrival on Wednesday held a closed-door session with his host, thanked Biya for providing refuge to Nigerians who had fled their homes because of the insurgents.

He also commended Cameroun for its support to Nigerian military and security personnel in the fight against terrorism and offered his condolences to the families of the victims of terror in both countries.

Buhari used the occasion to announce Nigeria’s willingness to expand economic partnerships with Cameroun, through increased joint ventures in infrastructure development, transport and commerce, among others.

He welcomed the achievements so far recorded by the Nigeria-Cameroun Joint Commission and all the landmark agreements signed between both countries.

The President, who described the relations between both countries as excellent, recognised the roles played by past and present leaders and Nigerian citizens in sustaining friendly relations with Cameroun.

In his remarks, Biya while congratulating Buhari for a successful inauguration into office, said his electoral victory has provided an opportunity for him to preside over the destiny of Nigeria.’’ “Mr. President, a dark cloud is looming over our countries even as we welcome you; we are facing the same threat, which may rock the foundation of our two nations.

This danger bears the name of Boko Haram, its atrocities and crimes are jeopardising peace around Lake Chad and especially in our two countries. “The number of dead and victims are rising, economic activities have been crippled in affected areas, the number of refugees and displaced persons are ever increasing.

We cannot allow this cancer to spread. We must pool our resources and forces and share our experiences. We must stop it,” he said. Biya, who reaffirmed Cameroun’s commitment in the fight against terror, welcomed the “fresh push” on economic ties between both countries through easing of trade. “I strongly believe in your readiness to work towards that goal and your visit to Cameroun as well as the discussions we have had have strengthened my conviction,’’ he said.

Onu told the delegation: “I want to assure you that this administration in Nigeria is an administration that came because of the collective desire of Nigerians for change.

We for the past 16 years, well meaning Nigerians didn’t like the way the country was moving and that was why many of us who were in the opposition came together and made sure that we effected change in a democratic manner.

And the present Buhari administration is committed to making sure that Africa remains the centre piece of Nigeria’s foreign policy and since we have the largest population, largest economy in Africa, we have a lot of responsibility to help engineer the new direction of growth, development under peaceful condition in the whole of Africa and it can happen if we join together to work for the development of our continent. I believe that this can be done; I believe that this would be done.”

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