The destructive activities of the Boko Haram terrorist group are not over but been greatly curtailed, foreign affairs minister Geoffrey Onyeama says.
Onyeama told the Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York that threats from the Boko Haram insurgents were, however, not yet over. He noted the cases of suicide attacks on soft targets and the abduction of civilians but said the sect was no longer on the offensive. He also urged the international community to realize that the fight against Boko Haram was not a conventional warfare:
This is a fight that sometimes you don’t even know who you’re fighting. So you have to be careful because someone you think is a friend can turn out to be an enemy.
According to him, the capability of the sect had been weakened through the decisive leadership provided by President Muhammadu Buhari and the military.
The Boko Haram crushing was used in a context. Before the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration came into power, Boko Haram captured territories. Boko Haram was an existential threat. But today, they are no longer holding any territory; they now only engage in soft targets.
According to him, the Federal Government will continue to cooperate with the international community to share strategy to overcome the security challenge. He said:
We will use the General Assembly to continue to strategize against Boko Haram. I am happy to announce that the present U.S. administration has made weapons available to Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram.
He regretted that the U.S. Government refused to sell weapons to Nigeria at some point but that the position had since changed with administration of President Donald Trump.
I think the problem to certain extent was really not too much with the executive of the U.S. Government but the legislature, the Congress. There were a number of Congressmen that were holding out against it. President Donald Trump came in and he gave our President the assurance that he will get these weapons to Nigeria. So obviously he’s been able to convince those Congressmen who were opposed to it.
He regretted the huge humanitarian challenges caused by the activities of Boko Haram terrorists in the northeast. According to him, Nigeria will organise a side-event during the 72nd of the UN General Assembly to draw international attention to the gravity of the humanitarian challenge in northeast. Onyeama commended UN, partners and the donor countries for their contributions towards addressing the humanitarian challenge. The minister said:
At the Oslo Conference on Nigeria and Lake Chad Basin, many countries made pledges and the pledges are being redeemed. But several factors responsible for the crisis in the region must also be addressed. Looking at the root causes of Boko Haram, climate change played a key role. The shrinking of Lake Chad played a role. The Lake has shrunk by about 90 per cent. So we are appealing to the international community to recharge the Lake Chad.
Onyeama said the Nigerian delegation at UNGA 72 would also give priority to attracting support for the internally displaced persons as a result of terrorist acts and recent flooding as well as mitigating the effects of Climate Change.