By Rafiu Ajakaye
LAGOS, Nigeria (AA) – Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday held an emergency meeting with leaders of the Lake Chad region and called for renewed and urgent measures to decimate Boko Haram amid fresh violence in the region.
“Times as these call for quick interventions and measures, ” a statement from the Nigerian presidency quoted Buhari as saying at the closed-door meeting held with his counterparts from Cameroon, Chad and Niger in Ndjamena, the capital city of Chad.
“The region in the recent past has witnessed increasing attacks, particularly on military formations by elements of the Boko Haram terrorists as well as the renewed kidnapping of people. These activities are aimed at weakening our collective resolve to eradicate them from the region,” he added.
Buhari said Boko Haram’s use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for surveillance activities, and its strategy of mining the area, has proven critical factors in the resurgence of attacks, adding that the region must double down in the efforts to end the nine-year insurgency.
“To this end, I have requested that bilateral and multilateral platforms of engagements by member countries affected by the conflict be revamped to ensure collective actions towards stamping out the remnants of the terrorists from the region,” the president said.
Buhari said widespread poverty and the shrinkage of the Lake Chad are fueling the crisis and called on the regional leaders to increase efforts for recharging the Lake through Inter-Basin Water Transfer from the Congo Basin.
He said the project, if properly pursued, would help unlock the economic potentials and provide solutions to the myriad of interrelated challenges confronting the region.
Chad President Idris Deby Itno, Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou and Prime Minister of Cameroon Philemon Yang, who represented President Paul Biya, attended the meeting.
The regional leaders “resolved to change modus operandi, collaborate more, and renew assault on all forms of terrorism and criminal acts, till wholesome peace was restored to the region,” according to the communique issued after the meeting.
The meeting was held about two weeks after Boko Haram launched deadly attacks on troops’ positions in the region, killing several soldiers and injuring many others.
Nigerian army put the death toll at 39, whereas local media claimed more than 100 soldiers were killed in the Nov. 18 attack in the country's northeast Metele town.