Buhari’s ties with neighbouring countries halts spread of insurgency – Onyeama

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Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, says conscious efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari to reach out to neighbouring countries have helped in the fight against Boko Haram insurgency in the country.

Onyeama said this on Tuesday in Abuja at a news conference on his performance in the ministry in the last three and half years.

The minister said that Buhari upon assumption of office, forged alliances with neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin Republic to battle insurgency.

He said that the Boko Haram’s activities were on a high scale at the inception of the Buhari administration, particularly in the north-eastern part of the country which the president promised to tackle headlong.

“With regards to security, there were conscious outreaches to all the countries of the world that we felt were relevant to our security and our fight against terrorism.

“These are our immediate neighbours of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin Republic. And with them, we forged a military alliance, the Multinational Joint Task Force,” he said.

Onyeama said that the first trips made by the President on assumption of office were to Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin Republic.

He said that this was to ensure that the countries were all on one page to fight terrorism and assured the security and territorial integrity of the country.

He said the diplomatic outreach had been sustained till the moment, noting that the sustenance of the diplomatic outreach had also been very successful.

“So, we have had absolutely no dissonance amongst these countries, but all working to fight a common enemy.

“On terrorist threat in the Sahel and other parts of Africa, the Federal Government has to embark on greater engagement across West Africa on security matters.

According to him, a group called the G5 Sahel was established by some West African countries to address terrorists challenges in the Sahel region..

“We had to engage with them and set up also with France and the U.S. and the UK, a joint intelligence fusion unit headquartered in Abuja to share intelligence amongst the countries in the fight against terrorism.

“So, we were very successful in that and also, with other African countries on the framework of the African Union and beyond – the U.S. the UK, France and all our partners.

“We were able through diplomatic outreach to bring them in and work with us through supply of weapons and other equipment, training and developing strategies,” he said .

He said that countries like Jordan also supported Nigeria in the fight against insurgency.

“So, on the security front, in short, we were able to leverage on a very clear and well articulated foreign policy direction to mobilise global support in the fight against terrorism,.

“These efforts also help in making the rest of the world to see the issue of Boko Haram as challenge to unite around. So, Mr President succeeded extremely well with regards to that,” he said.