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INSECURITY: BUHARI’S REQUEST TO RELOCATE AFRICOM NOT UNDER ASSESSMENT NOW –U.S. OFFICIAL

A United States’ official has said that President M u h a m m a d u Buhari’s request to relocate AFRICOM is not under assessment now. The official in a response to Saturday Telegraph’s query, also said that previous studies have concluded that the cost associated with the relocation of this headquarters is significant and likely to incur the expense of other engagement opportunities and activities that more directly benefit the African partners. Similarly, the British High Commission, in its response to Saturday Telegraph enquiry, also said that Britain is concerned about the increasing insecurity across the country, including attacks against schools.

The High Commission hopes that all Nigerians can work together to reduce tensions, find solutions that address the causes of insecurity and support inclusivity, unity and cooperation. However, the U.S. official has noted that his country remains committed to continuing its close partnership with African countries and organisations to promote security and stability. He said: “Although there is an ongoing Global Posture Review, the relocation of Combatant Command headquarters is outside the scope of its assessment.

“In the case of AFRICOM, previous studies have concluded that the cost associated with the relocation of this headquarters is significant and likely to incur the expense of other engagement opportunities and activities that more directly benefit our valued African partners “We greatly value the partnership with Nigeria and appreciate President Buhari’s recognition of the United States’ positive contribution to African peace and security, as well as other regional partners that have made similar past pronouncements.

“The United States remains committed to continuing our close partnership with African countries and organisations to promote security and stability.” The British High Commission also said: “We are concerned about increasing insecurity across the country, including attacks against schools.

“We hope that all Nigerians can work together to reduce tensions, find solutions that address the causes of insecurity and support inclusivity, unity and cooperation. “The UK delivers a comprehensive package of support to NE Nigeria, including military capacity building, stabilisation programmes and humanitarian and development assistance.

“We are committed to support Nigeria to tackle the insurgent threat and to resolve underlying drivers of conflict. We are providing humanitarian support to 1.5 million people.” Recall that President Buhari, had, on Tuesday, urged the U.S. to consider moving its military headquarters overseeing Africa to the continent, from Germany, to better tackle growing armed violence in the region. Buhari made the call in a virtual meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken.

The request is coming at a time the Nigerian security forces are facing multiple security challenges including school kidnappings by armed gangs in its North West region. There is also the issue of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea as well as the decade-long insurgency by Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, which also carries out attacks in neighbouring Niger, Cameroon and Chad. West Africa’s Sahel region, according to reports, has been in the grip of a security crisis as groups with ties to al Qaeda and Islamic State attack military forces and civilians, despite help from French and United Nations forces.

“Considering the growing security challenges in West and Central Africa, Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region and the Sahel, weighing heavily on Africa, it underscores the need for the United States to consider re-locating AFRICOM headquarters… near the theatre of operation,” said Buhari, according to a statement issued by the presidency as quoted by Reuters.

Buhari spoke a week after the death of the longtime president of Chad, Idriss Deby, in a battle against rebels. Deby was said to be an important ally in the fight against Islamist militants and under him the Chadian soldiers formed a key component of a multinational force fighting Boko Haram and its offshoot, which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State. Buhari had said: “The security challenges in Nigeria remain of great concern to us and impacted more negatively by existing complex negative pressures in the Sahel, Central and West Africa, as well as the Lake Chad Region.”

 

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