President Muhammadu Buhari has sought the strengthening of military and economic ties between Nigeria and France.
The President’s suggestion was published in the Opinion Page of the Paris-based leading Magazine, Le Point.
The President said as leaders from across Africa meet in Paris to discuss plans to recover from the impact of Covid-19, there would be the need to unite in the fight against terrorism.
He said Insurgents had taken advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic and pushed back into Nigeria, whilst still launching raids and attacks in Chad, Cameroon, and Niger.
President Buhari noted that the spread of insecurity expanding to Europe had linked the fate of affected countries, hence the need for France to be active in the fight against insecurity to prevent a wide expanse of territory from descending into a lawless playground, where terrorists masquerading as fighting for Islam can freely flourish and multiply.
The President, therefore, demanded the immediate deepening of Nigeria and France’s anti-terror co-operations if the enemy is to conquered for good.
He urged leaders of Sahel countries to present a unified front to lobby other Western nations, particularly Great Britain, the United States, and the European Union for further military and humanitarian assistance.
President Buhari noted that military gains alone would not provide the whole solution, pointing out that without security, economic, opportunity remains fragile.
He warned that terrorists would always succeed in their recruitment if citizens were left vulnerable to indoctrination, just as they are vulnerable without Covid-19 vaccines.
Traditionally, according to President Buhari, this vast arid land has been poorer than its Mediterranean neighbors to the north and fertile land to its South, raising concern that climate change and environmental degradation have squeezed the region of water sources, draining opportunity and increasing competition amongst various groups for scarce resources.
He expressed concern that the fallout from Libya had flushed the whole region with weapons, making any disputes and competition far more destructive, and that upon those conditions, the lies and propaganda of terrorists, who falsely claim to be Islamists promising salvation, could find an audience, to taint the image of Islam, the religion of peace.
President Buhari said leaders must focus on initiatives that would sustainably spread opportunity far and wide across the Sahel, lamenting that 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, as viewed by the President, reinvigorating the links or building anew is critical, as It allows for efficient allocation of labor, the movement of inputs such as seed, fertilizer or equipment to the areas that need them, and freight to take produce or extractives to market or value-add factories.