President Muhammadu Buhari will on Thursday leave for N’Djamena, Chad where he will be meeting with five other presidents over the resurgence of Boko Haram.
The senior special adviser to the president on media and publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said in a statement that the president summoned the meeting as the chairman of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC).
He also said the presidents will discuss the countries affected by Boko Haram insurgency and will adopt measures to enhance the capacity of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to meet the challenges of securing the areas.
“The MNJTF and the national operations of the affected countries have appreciably degraded the capacity of Boko Haram terrorists, although the insurgents still retain the capacity to attack isolated targets in desperate search for supplies,’’ the statement added.
LCBC presidents of Chad, Cameroon, Niger and the Central African Republic will be in attendance while the president of Benin Republic, a troop-contributing country, will also be in attendance.
Meanwhile, Buhari said urged troops to show more commitment in fighting Boko Haram despite scores of losses in a recent assault.
The president who said this on Wednesday as he visited the northeastern city of Maiduguri said the insurgency war is a must-win.
Addressing delegates at an army conference in Maiduguri, the epicentre of the jihadist insurgency, Buhari acknowledged the military had done a lot to secure the volatile region.
“There has been a remarkable improvement in the security situation in the northeast since 2015 when this administration came to power and you are part of it.
“Our troops must not be distracted. They should be committed to the task of eliminating Boko Haram from the face of the earth,” he said.
The conference had initially been due to take place in Benin City in the south, but it was moved to Maiduguri to honour the soldiers that were killed 10 days ago in an attack on a nearby military base, he said.
There has been an upsurge in deadly attacks on both military and civilian targets in recent months, despite government claims the jihadists are on the verge of defeat.
At least there have been 17 attempts to overrun army bases since July.
Many of the attacks have been claimed by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a faction of Boko Haram.
In the latest attack on November 18, at least 43 soldiers were killed in Metele, although troops who survived put the death toll at more than 100.
Buhari praised the fallen soldiers for their “heroic sacrifices” and pledged work with partners in the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJT) to end the conflict.
The MNJT comprising Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin was set up to fight the Islamists in Lake Chad.
Nigerian defence minister, Mansur Dan-Ali, said he was in Chad and Niger this week for talks with his counterparts on the Boko Haram issue.
“My recent visit to Niger and Chad… was to meet with their defence ministers on how to strengthen the operational capabilities of the MNJT to achieve peace and security of the countries in Lake Chad,” he said.
Dan-Ali said the MNJT would address the circumstances that led to the attack in Metele and come up with “new ideas and strategies” to prevent a recurrence.
Security analysts say there must be a change of tactics if the fight against the jihadists is to succeed.
They believe Nigeria’s regional partners are not doing enough to secure their common frontiers against the insurgents.
The nine-year Boko Haram jihadist rebellion has claimed more than 27,000 lives and forced at least 1.8 million to flee their homes, sparking a dire humanitarian crisis in the region.
With The Guardian and AFP reports