The Commander of the United States Special Operations Command Africa, Major General Dagvin Anderson has advised the Buhari administration not to rely on America to fight its war on terrorism but to come up with a carefully thought-through strategy to confront and defeat terrorist groups that have killed thousands of its citizens and rendered millions homeless.
Speaking during the digital briefing on “US Efforts to Combat Terrorism in Africa during Covid-19”, General Anderson said the war on terrorism cannot be won solely by relying on military hardware but a proper and well-distilled strategy that seeks to address the root cause of insurgency, adding that “for Nigeria to defeat the Very Extremist Organisations (VEOs) and to have an effect against these stressors, it really takes the Government of Nigeria to lead that effort and to build that energy to coalesce around. So, no nation can come in and fix that problem for Nigeria”, he warned.
While conceding that Western powers like the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries can assist, he said the ultimate responsibility for fighting and winning the war rests on the leadership in Nigeria. “We need to understand where Nigeria wants to focus those efforts so we can partner appropriately to have the best effect”, he said.
Painting a grim picture of the socio-economic disruption of insurgency in Africa, he said more than 9,000 schools across Africa had been shut down due to insurgency; 3,000 in, Mali and Burkina Faso alone. He described this as very “concerning” and bemoaned the consequences of this disruption on the future development and opportunities for people living in these regions.
“And what does it mean as these violent extremist organizations then replace those schools with their ideology and their teachings, which we believe is antithetical to a free and open society and prosperity”? he asked”.
He, however, reiterates America’s resolve to continue to share sensitive intelligence information on the activities of Boko Haram and other terrorist groups with Nigeria. “This intelligence sharing is absolutely vital and we stay fully engaged with the Government of Nigeria to provide them with an understanding of what these terrorists are doing, what Boko Haram is doing, what ISIS-West Africa is doing, and how ISIS and al-Qaida are looking to expand further south into the littoral areas.