The UK Foreign Secretary, Phillip Hammond upon his arrival for the Regional Security Summit in Abuja, promised to give Nigeria £40m to help the country fight Boko Haram. He also announced that the UK would train 1,000 Nigeria military personnel for the fight against the seven-year old insurgency that has cost about 20,000 lives. The money to fight Boko Haram will be distributed over four years.
Mr Hammond praised President Buhari for what he described as ‘strong leadership’:
“President Buhari has shown strong leadership in the fight against Boko Haram, a brutal organization that has raped, murdered and kidnapped innocent civilians and forced over two million people to flee their homes. Their allegiance to, and potential coordination with Daesh (IS), is a reminder of the threat they present to the region and to British interests.”
“Britain and Nigeria, with support from the US, France, and its neighbours, are making progress to degrade Boko Haram, but we must maintain the momentum to win the war, and build the right conditions for stability in the region.”
Meanwhile, leaders from Benin, Cameroun, Chad and Niger are gathered in Abuja to discuss ways to fight Boko Haram and Islamic insurgency in the region. French President Francois Hollande alongside high-ranking diplomats were present. Francois Hollande arrived in Abuja late on Friday from the Central African Republic, and was met by President Buhari at the presidential villa before the start of the summit.
Both countries recently signed an agreement on closer military cooperation, including intelligence sharing. It is understood that France is keen to help implement a regional approach to the conflict, given its close ties to some of its former colonies in the region.
The U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Mr Antony Blinken, is also in Nigeria ahead of Saturday’s Security Summit. Upon his arrival, he addressed State house Correspondents thus:
“Now here we have this very important security summit that Nigeria is hosting, with countries around the world attending. This is an evidence of the strength of the Nigerian leadership, with the effort that the President and the Vice President are making to strengthen the economy, fight corruption and deal with the security challenges.”
He spoke on the relationship between Nigeria and the U.S. since Buhari’s inauguration as Nigeria’s President.
“I was here just a little less than a year ago in preparation for President Buhari’s visit to Washington and since then we have seen the relationship between Nigeria and the U.S. grow deeper and stronger.
As regards Boko Haram’s captives, especially the Chibok girls, he was positive that they would regain their freedom.
“We have been focused on this from day one, doing whatever we can to provide all the assistance and information that we can develop. It is something that we are focused on every single day. Of course there are others besides the girls who have been taken hostage by Boko Haram. Our thoughts are with them as well and we are determined as the Nigerian government, not to rest until we get them home.”