Nigeria, US Begin Military Summit in Abuja

Top Military officers from across Africa have converged on Abuja, Nigeria’s seat of government for a crucial summit co-hosted by the United States with a mindset at advancing cooperation between countries fighting extremist groups.

The summit, with the theme ‘Unity is Strength: Combatting Africa’s Security Challenges’ which is ongoing is geared towards providing African military leaders the opportunity to strengthen existing relationships, develop capacity and new ways of tackling security challenges on the continent and further facilitate advanced military cooperation.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai in his opening address at the occasion said it will require collaborative efforts to combat Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria.

He said although Nigerian Army has recorded tremendous success in taming the terrorists, it still require collaborative efforts to ensure safety and stability in Africa and in the world.

“Nigeria has recorded significant progress in taming the excesses of the Boko Haram terrorist group.

“It is my view that combating the menace of Boko Haram and other extremist organisations will require collaborative efforts, therefore, I want to emphasise that our collective action and inaction will have an impact on our efforts to ensure safety and stability to our individual countries, Africa and the world in general,” he said.

The African Land Forces Summit brings together “land force chiefs from across Africa for candid dialogue” to improve security. Military leaders from almost every country on the continent — including Angola, Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya and Rwanda are in Nigeria’s capital of Abuja to exchange notes on threats in Africa, from Al-Shabaab in the east to Boko Haram in the west.

Under former president Barack Obama, the United States took the fight against rising Islamist extremism to Africa and stepped up its military presence in several countries. President Donald Trump has continued to priorities security on the continent.

Before he was sacked in March, secretary of state Rex Tillerson had just completed a five-country tour of Africa, pledging military assistance. The Sahel region is host to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Mali and Boko Haram in Nigeria. US forces are stationed in neighboring Niger, where last November the government gave the green light to arm drones to fight jihadists.

 As a prelude to the conference, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt Gen Tukur Buratai,  represented by the Chief of Training and Operations, Major General David Ahmadu,  had explained that the summit begins on Monday 16 and ends on Thursday 19 April, 2018 at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.

He added that the conference was part of the constant training activities and updating of personnel of the army in line with their constitutional roles to aid civil authority in combating terrorism, armed banditry, kidnapping, cultism, civil unrest, ethno religious crisis as well as other security challenges.

According to him, the summit would provide the Nigerian Army, the opportunity to showcase its capabilities, project its image and military might to the largest gathering of African senior military leaders on the continent.

“The event is sponsored by the USARAF while the Nigerian Army chiefs and chiefs of other nations from Europe and the Americas including the USA will be in attendance.

“Participants will be drawn from all African armies, western partners as well as representatives from the three services, the Nigeria Police and the Department of State Service (DSS).”

Ahmadu explained that “the forum would afford countries the avenue to share experiences on global terrorism and forge common approach to combating transnational threats and crimes such as small arms proliferation and terrorism.

“The summit is the single largest gathering of African senior military leaders on the continent. It would also afford them the opportunity to interact with the aim of strengthening existing relationships and developing new ones.

“The Summit is a land mark event which the Nigerian Army will be co-hosting with US Army Africa (USARAF). It will provide the NA the forum to showcase its capabilities, project its image and military might to the largest gathering of African senior military leaders on the continent.

“This is in addition to providing a platform for countries to share experiences on global terrorism and other security challenges such as transnational threats and crimes.”

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