Text of President Buhari's Address at Meeting of Lake Chad Basin Commission

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1. I am most honoured to welcome Your Excellencies on behalf of the Government and People of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to this Extra Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and Benin. I wish to convey my personal appreciation and that of the people of Nigeria, for honouring the invitation to this meeting, which was convened at very short notice.

2. Our meeting today is premised on the common resolve and commitment of Member States of the LCBC & Benin to maintain the momentum in degrading the capacity of the insurgents until they are completely defeated. It is also borne out of the urgency to mitigate the suffering that has been imposed on our civilian population by the nefarious activities of the insurgents and terrorists.

3. Our meeting today provides us an excellent opportunity to finalise the instruments for the operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), in order to give life to our joint military campaign to decisively defeat the insurgents.

Your Excellencies,

4. You will recall that in my inaugural address on 29th May, 2015, I affirmed that I will consult regularly with Heads of Government of our immediate neighbourhood and I had within four 4 days of my assumption of duty as President, embarked on a thank you visit to the Presidents of Niger and Chad. This important assignment was, however, interrupted because I had to honour the invitation extended to me by the G7 member states to attend their meeting in Germany. I intend to continue with my thank you visit to the remaining LCBC Member States very shortly.

5. It will certainly be remiss of me not to take advantage of Your Excellencies presence to express the gratitude of the Federal Government and people of Nigeria to your countries for the unwavering support in the campaign against the Boko Haram insurgents. We deeply regret the loss of gallant soldiers who have fallen in the battle, as well as numerous civilians who have died in the cruel hands of the insurgents. Nigeria will forever cherish the memories of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in order that we may be free from the strangle hold of purveyors of hate and extremism. Please accept, Your Excellencies, the appreciation of a grateful nation.

Your Excellencies,

6. Nothing has emphasised our common humanity and destinies more than the dastardly crimes against our people by the insurgents, who have maimed and raped our women and children and held our nations in a vicious strangle hold. Our campaign against insurgency must therefore, be directed on all fronts, starting from limiting their capacity to access funds and weapons. We must, therefore, strengthen our cross border patrols and increase our capacity to gather and share intelligence. In this regard, I urge that all necessary steps be immediately taken to reinvigorate the Regional Intelligence Fusion Unit (RIFU).

Your Excellencies,

7. Our Ministers of Defence have proposed modalities for the operations of the MNJTF. I want to commend them for the painstaking effort and the outcomes of their deliberations, which they have presented to us for our consideration and approval.

8. While I agree that this is a joint operation with shared responsibilities, I am, however, of the opinion that military operations that are subjected to a rapid turnover of command and control structures, six months duration, as it is being proposed in the documents before us, do not augur well for effectiveness and efficiency. Such a process will undermine, even if it is not intended, the military capacity to sustain the push against the insurgents, who also have the uncanny ability to adapt and rejig their operational strategies.

9. I am inclined, on account of the above, to suggest for Your Excellencies consideration that Nigeria retains the position of the Force Commander of the MNJTF for the period of the war effort. This command will be to the effectiveness of military strategy, since Nigeria will be providing the bulk of the troops and the main theatre of the war is on Nigerian soil.

Your Excellencies,

10. Permit me, at this juncture, to recall that Nigeria has already pledged the sum of one hundred million ($100,000,000) USD for the smooth take off of the MNJTF. I hereby reassure you that my government will keep faith with this promise.

11. Notwithstanding this pledge by my government, funding still remains a major issue of this campaign. I had raised this issue at my meeting with the G7 leaders, while I am encouraged by their support, I also urge you to garner the support of your international friends and partners to sustain this campaign. Our campaign against Boko Haram must be seen within the wider context of the global war against terror. Terrorism has no frontiers and they must, because of the great implication for regional and global peace and security, be defeated.

12. In conclusion, I want to place on record and express my profound gratitude to Your Excellencies, and to the governments and peoples of the Member States of the LCBC and Benin for your unrelenting support in our campaign against insurgency and terrorism. Let me, once again, convey the condolences of the Nigerian people to the families of our fallen war heroes who have been left to mourn their loved ones. We fervently pray that this war will soon come to an end and that the much needed peace and security and progress will be ushered into our sub region.

13. I thank you for honouring Nigeria with your august presence and wish us very fruitful deliberation. I am confident that our deliberation will be undertaken against the backdrop of our common resolve to defeat insurgency and also the historic, fraternal, ethnic ties that unite and bind us together.

14. Thank you.