Tag Archives: Nigeria

Nigeria – many in north-east optimistic as independence anniversary approaches



Independence Anniversary: Nigeria’s Future Bright In spite Challenges – Northeast Residents

A cross section of Nigerians in the North-East have expressed optimism that in spite of the challenges, the future of the country was still bright.

Speaking their minds on the country’s independence anniversary, they noted that Nigerians had every cause to celebrate 55 years of being together as brothers and sisters.

They said although the journey had not been smooth all through the 55 years, Nigeria was able to surmounted challenges that most other African countries would not have survived.

Alhaji Gambo Magaji, a retired Federal Permanent Secretary and one time Secretary to Bauchi State Government, said that 55 years of the country’s existence as a corporate entity, was worth celebrating.

He said that physical and human developments had taken place, adding that it struggled to gain independence from colonial masters, to become a country reckoned with among comity of nations.

According to him Nigeria has been playing an important role in Africa and the world, participating in peace keeping missions.

“Anybody who has not read history will not appreciate the fact that the Independence Day is worth celebrating,” he said.

He however said that there was still room for further advancement in terms of development in spite that the economic down-turn was a global phenomenon.

He noted that the problem of Nigeria was lack of dedicated leadership, but added that with the level of dedication of the present administration, things had started taking shape.

Alhaji Muhammad Kachallah, 80 year old retired civil servant in Damaturu, described Nigeria as a unique country that had survived numerous threats of disintegration.

“Nigeria has survived series of military coups, civil war, religious, political and ethnic crises, from the First Republic to date, but has remained a united country,” he observed.

Usman Abubakar, an ex-service man in Damaturu,who fought the civil war said “although Nigeria had problems, past leaders should be commended for keeping the country united.

“The civil war experience was bad; I pity those singing war songs now because most of them were not born to witness the civil war; nobody in his right frame of mind will call for war” the veteran soldier said.

Meanwhile, a cross section of Nigerians in Damaturu, have urged Nigerians to concentrate on issues that would promote peace and unity of the country.

Mr Obioka Simon, a Nigerian from South East geo-political zone living in Damaturu, said Nigeria had great opportunities and potentials under the President Buhari administration, to foster unity among the citizens.

“President Muhammadu Buhari is on a selfless service to the nation and has the passion to see Nigeria overcome its challenges
“I think we should be fair to him and support him in rebuilding Nigeria, for us and generations yet unborn,” he said.

For Alhaji Idris Maiunguwa, the Vice President (Arable 1) of All Farmers Association of Nigeria, the key to Nigeria’s advancement was encouraging investment in agriculture.
Maiunguwa told NAN in Hadejia town of Jigawa that such move was necessary to diversify the economy, reduce dependence on oil revenue, provide job opportunities and enhance wealth creation in the society.

He said that there was need for effective agriculture development policies to achieve sustainable development in the sector.

“After 55 years of nationhood, we neglected agriculture and the country is exposed to series of social and economic problems.

“We must develop agriculture to enhance effective utilisation of human and natural resources, to make Nigeria one of the strongest economies,” he advised.

The AFAN vice president also called on the government to review the agriculture loan scheme to enable easy access to the facility.

Maiunguwa explained that over the years, small holder farmers could not access the facility due to the cumbersome processes laid down by the credit lending banks.

Also commenting, Alhaji Fahad Muhammad, a former Chairman, Jigawa State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), tasked media practitioners to abide by the ethics of the profession, to promoting peace and unity in the country.

Muhammad said that the media had a greater role to play in nation building, hence the need to abide by the ethics of the profession to attain peace and stability in the country.

Muhammad stressed the need for the media to support the anti-graft crusade and other programmes initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, to move the country forward.

“It is the duty of the media to spearhead the anti-corruption campaign and work towards ensuring good governance at all levels.” he said.

A civil society activist in Dutse, Mr Muhammad Haske, advised Nigerians to reflect back on the sacrifice made by the founding fathers, and work towards uplifting the nation to greater height.

“We should emulate the former leaders, who worked selflessly for our independence from the colonial administration.

“There are positive lessons to be learnt from their deeds that will enable us achieve sustainable social and economic development in the country,” he said.

A retired Assistant Inspector-General of Police in Gombe, Abubakar Adamu, observed that Nigeria as an entity, had made a lot of progress in the last 55 years.

Adamu said that what was essential now, was for the people to consolidate on the gains of the past, and address the few grey areas.

He specifically stressed the need to give the security and agriculture sectors, priority, as the two were the bedrock of the development of any society. (NAN)

Nigeria – Buhari calls on world leaders to help return stolen funds


President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday appealed to world leaders, in whose domain stolen funds and assets are being kept by corrupt individuals, to help return such to their countries of origin.

Buhari also called on the international community to urgently redouble its efforts at strengthening mechanisms for dismantling safe havens for proceeds of corruption.

He said in his address to world leaders at the 70th United Nations General Assembly holding in New York.

The President identified corruption, cross-border financial crimes, cyber crimes and human trafficking as major challenges of the 21st century, which he said the international community must work to collectively overcome.

He said his administration was determined to confront corruption and illicit financial outflows.

Buhari told the world leaders, “Let me reaffirm the Nigerian government’s unwavering commitment to fight corruption and illicit financial flows.

“By any consideration, corruption and cross border financial crimes are impediments to development, economic growth and the realisation of the well-being of citizens across the globe.

“Nigeria is ready and willing to partner with international agencies and individual countries on a bilateral basis to confront crimes and corruption.

“In particular, I call upon the global community to urgently redouble efforts towards strengthening the mechanisms for dismantling safe havens for proceeds of corruption and ensuring the return of stolen funds and assets to their countries of origin.”

The President also suggested the adoption of peace as a seventh essential element of the Sustainable Development Goals, which was adopted last Friday by world leaders in New York.

He added, “The Secretary-General has grouped the SDGs into what he calls six ‘essential elements’ namely: Dignity, Prosperity, Justice, Partnership, Planet and People.

“As a prerequisite to these and as we look at history and remember the terrible events that gave rise to the birth of the United Nations in 1945, I would like to propose a seventh: PEACE.

“Peace is close to the hearts of Nigerians, as we are in the front line in the war on terror. Boko Haram’s war against the people of Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon may not attract as much worldwide attention as the wars in the Middle East but the suffering is just as great and the human cost is equally high.

“This is a war between progress and chaos; between democracy and the rule of law. Boko Haram celebrates violence against the weak and the innocent and deplorably, they hide behind their perverted interpretation of Islam. Boko Haram is as far away from Islam as anyone can think of.”

Buhari assured the global community that his administration would do all within its powers to quickly overcome the challenge of terrorism and insecurity.

“The new Nigerian government, which I have the honour to head, moved with dispatch to put in a bold and robust strategy to defeat Boko Haram. Nigeria and her neighbours, Cameroon, Chad and Niger plus Benin, are working together to face this common threat within the regional framework of the Lake Chad Basin Commission.

“We have established a multinational joint task force to confront, degrade and defeat Boko Haram. We have driven them away from many of their strongholds, killed or captured many of their operatives or commanders and freed several hundreds of hostages,” he said.

He also assured the world leaders that rescuing the Chibok girls kidnapped in their school in Borno State over a year ago remained one of the major objectives of his administration.

“We are working round the clock to ensure their safety and eventual reunion with their families. The girls are constantly on our minds and in our plans,” he said.

The President condemned what he called the new and dangerous dimension of human trafficking in the world.

“We in Africa are grieved to see hundreds of our able-bodied men and women dying in the desert or drowning in the Mediterranean. We condemn in the strongest terms these traffickers and will support any measures to apprehend and bring them to justice,” the President said.aa

Noting that the world was witnessing a dreadful increase in conflicts fuelled by availability of small arms and light weapons, Buhari called on the international community   to work towards the effective implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty to ensure that small arms and light weapons could only be legally transferred.

He reminded the global gathering that peaceful co-existence and self-determination were among the key principles that led to the establishment of the UN.

He also called for the urgent resolution of the question of self determination for the people of Palestine and Western Sahara.

He said, “The international community has come to pin its hopes on resolving the Palestinian issue through the two – states solution, which recognises the legitimate right of each state to exist in peace and security.

“The world has no more excuses or reasons to delay the implementation of the long list of Security Council resolutions on this question. Neither do we have the moral right to deny any people their freedom or condemn them indefinitely to occupation and blockade.”

Copyright PUNCH.

Nigeria – army says 200 Boko Haram fighters surrender


Boko Haram fighters (file photo)AFP  Most of the areas previously under Boko Haram control have now been recaptured

Some 200 members of the Boko Haram Islamist militant group have given themselves up, in the biggest such surrender, Nigeria’s army says.

The fighters are said to have handed themselves over in the town of Banki on the border with Cameroon.

The military earlier said the town had been recaptured from Boko Haram but there is no independent confirmation.

Some 17,000 people are said to have been killed in the six-year insurgency, mainly in northern Nigeria.

BBC Nigeria correspondent Will Ross says dozens of Boko Haram fighters have given themselves up in recent weeks but this would be the largest group by far to have surrendered en masse.

An army spokesman told the BBC they would all be screened to determine their status and they would then go through the government’s de-radicalisation programme. But he added the justice system would take its course.

The military is optimistic that the extremist group will be defeated in the coming weeks.

But our correspondent notes that exactly a year ago, the military said two groups of more than 100 Boko Haram fighters had surrendered. That was then followed by the most violent stage of the conflict as towns and villages were taken over and thousands of civilians were killed.


This year the security forces have reclaimed most of the territory previously captured by Boko Haram.

The army has also freed a number of people kidnapped by the militant group and this week announced that 241 women and children had been rescued near the border with Cameroon.

Attacks by the Islamist group have intensified since Muhammadu Buhari became president in May, after winning elections.

Boko Haram at a glance:

  • Founded in 2002, initially focused on opposing Western-style education – Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language
  • Launched military operations in 2009
  • Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria, hundreds abducted, including at least 200 schoolgirls
  • Joined so-called Islamic State, now calls itself IS’s “West African province”
  • Seized large area in north-east, where it declared caliphate
  • Regional force has retaken most territory this year

Nigeria – WHO says country to be removed from endemic polio list


polio vaccinationWHO/T.Moran Nigeria will need three years without polio cases to be declared free of the disease

Nigeria is set to be removed from the list of polio endemic countries in what is being regarded as a “milestone” on the quest to eradicate the disease.

The announcement by the World Health Organization, is expected at a meeting of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in New York.

It follows Nigeria going more than a year without a case of wild – naturally occurring – polio.

Three years without cases are required before it can be declared polio free.

It will mean there will be just two endemic countries – Pakistan and Afghanistan – where transmission of the paralysing virus has never been interrupted.

Jean Gough, Unicef country representative in Nigeria told me: “This is an important milestone, but it is too early to celebrate. We need to continue the efforts at every level if polio is to be eradicated.”

Polio is spread by poor sanitation and contaminated water and usually affects children.

The virus attacks the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis – usually of the legs – within hours.

Ancient Egyptian Polio suffererImage copyrightGetty Images
Image captionThis Egyptian stele (an upright stone carving) dating from 1403-1365 BC shows a priest with a walking stick and foot, deformities characteristic of polio. The disease was given its first clinical description in 1789 by the British physician Michael Underwood, and recognised as a condition by Jakob Heine in 1840. The first modern epidemics were fuelled by the growth of cities after the industrial revolution.

GPEI was established in 1988 when tens of thousands of children in more than 125 countries were paralysed by polio each year.

Partner organisations include the WHO, Rotary International and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


Nigeria’s progress against polio has been hard-fought.

In 2003, some northern states boycotted the oral polio vaccine for nearly a year after scare stories that it caused sterilisation.

It led to the virus spreading to many countries that had been declared polio free.

In 2013 nine vaccinators were shot dead in Kano. But instead of being a deterrent, it galvanised support at every level.

The Nigerian government declared polio a national health emergency and greatly increased the number of vaccinators.

And community and religious leaders voiced their support.

As a result, the number of families refusing to have their children immunised has decreased sharply.

Boko Haram

The success has come despite the Islamist militant insurgency in north-east Nigeria.

Earlier this month Unicef said half a million children had fled attacks by Boko Haram over the past five months.

Vaccine teams have been focussing attention on displaced families who have moved elsewhere in Nigeria, as well as fleeing to neighbouring countries like Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

I last visited Kano in northern Nigeria in 2005 and met Aminu Ahmed, and his son Umar – both of whom have been paralysed by polio.

Aminu Ahmed and his son Umar both have polioImage copyrightFergus Walsh
Image captionAminu Ahmed and his son Umar both have been paralysed by polio

Like other children Umar did not get the drops of polio vaccine and was infected, partially paralysing his right leg.

His father – who runs a charity making hand-operated tricycles for polio sufferers – has become a campaigner for polio immunisation.

I went back to meet the family. Umar is doing well at school and he now joins his father in persuading families to be immunised.

Aminu Ahmed told me: “Ten years ago, it was very common to see families saying no to the vaccine – now they all want it.

“We say you do not want your children to be unable to walk, like me.”

Polio progress

Map: Polio in 1988
Image captionBy 1988, polio had disappeared from the US, UK, Australia and much of Europe but remained prevalent in more than 125 countries. The same year, the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution to eradicate the disease completely by the year 2000.
Map: Polio in 2015
Image captionIn 2015, polio remains endemic in only two countries – Pakistan and Afghanistan. No new cases have been reported in Africa for the past year.

Wild polio

Nigeria, like the rest of the world, is switching from the oral polio vaccine, given in two drops into the mouth, to an injectable, inactivated form of polio vaccine (IPV).

The oral vaccine, which contains a weakened vaccine virus, can in extremely rare cases, cause a form of polio – circulation vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV).

There has been one case of cVDPV in Nigeria this year.

I met the family of the last child to be infected with wild polio.

Isau was 16 months old when he was infected in July 2014.

His right arm lies lifeless at his side – the muscles have withered and he cannot use them.

His mother, Kanduwa Ahmadu, has just given birth to another boy. She told me: “I will make sure my baby son gets all the doses of polio vaccine he needs. I know that life will be very hard for Isau.”

It’s more than a year since there has been a case of wild polio in Africa.

Eradicating the disease from the continent would be a huge achievement.

But health officials fear a resurgence of the disease unless efforts are continued to immunise every child.

India was declared polio free last year.

So far this year there have been 41 cases of wild polio worldwide, compared to 200 at the same point last year.

Nigeria – blast rocks Maiduguri



Three blasts have struck the north-eastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, the army says.

A spokesman blamed the Islamist militant group Boko Haram for the attack. The group was founded in Maiduguri.

Unconfirmed reports say as many as eight people may have died from the blasts.

Boko Haram attacks have spiked in recent months after it was driven from territory it held.

The blasts in Maiduguri reflected the “high level of desperation” in Boko Haram, spokesman Sani Usman said in a statement.

The group wants to establish Islamic rule in the north-east. Two million people have been forced from their homes since the militants launched their insurgency in 2009.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari made combating the group a key campaign pledge as he sought election this year.

Nigeria – Saraki says why he snubbed code of conduct tribunal

Premium Times


The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has explained his decision to stay away from the Code of Conduct Tribunal on Friday, and has criticised the court’s decision to order his arrest.

The chairman of the tribunal, Danladi Umar, issued a bench warrant against Mr. Saraki for not appearing to face a 13-count charge of corruption, brushing aside a Federal High Court order seeking to stop Mr. Saraki’s arraignment.

The Code of Conduct Bureau had slammed a 13-count charge of corruption on Mr. Saraki.

In charge number ABT/01/15, Mr. Saraki is accused of offences ranging from anticipatory declaration of assets to making false declaration of assets in forms he filed before the Code of Conduct Bureau while he was governor of Kwara state.

The Senate President is also accused of failing to declare some assets he acquired while in office as governor, acquiring assets beyond his legitimate earnings, and operating foreign accounts while being a public officer – governor and senator.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Yusuph Olaniyonu, Mr. Saraki said he refused to appear before the tribunal relying on an order issued by a Federal High Court on Thursday, directing that the case against him be halted.

He accused the tribunal of pursuing a political agenda, and said he was certain the court would give him justice.

Read his full statement:

CCT Defiance of Subsisting Court Order : Our Stand

Following the development in the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) today, Friday, September 18, 2015when the Tribunal chose to ignore the subsisting order of a Federal High Court by sitting, we hereby state our position as follows:

1. While the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, had stated and maintains that he is ready to submit himself to due process of the law on any issue concerning him, he also believes he has an inalienable right to resort to the same judiciary for protection when he feels his fundamental rights are about to be infringed upon.

2. It is for this reason that Dr. Saraki, having satisfied himself that the case filed by the CCB and the manner in which the case was filed show that he will not be given justice, resorted to the Federal High Court for the determination of the issues of competence of the prosecutor as well as compliance with the procedure stipulated in the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.

3. The Federal High Court on Thursday, September 17, 2015, therefore ordered that the all parties in the case should appear before it on Monday, September 21, 2015. The implication of this ruling by a Court of competent jurisdiction is that the sitting today has been overtaken by event. It is for this reason that Dr. Saraki chose to go about with his normal official schedule.

4. Today at the Tribunal, Counsel to the Senate President, Mr. M. A. Mahmud (SAN), raised a motion stating that there is a pending constitutional matter before the Federal High Court to be decided on Monday and that the Tribunal should hold the trial until the constitutional matter is disposed of.

5. We are however dismayed that the Tribunal chose to disregard the order of the Federal High Court and the motion to suspend hearing till Monday when all parties are expected to argue their positions on the constitutional matter.

6. It is also a surprise to us that despite the application by the lead counsel to the Senate President that he will produce Dr. Saraki on Monday and the personality of the person involved as the Number three man in the country, the Tribunal insisted on issuing a warrant of arrest as if its intention is simply to embarrass Dr. Saraki. We are not unmindful of the fact that the Tribunal is acting under political influence and external pressure. This is dangerous to our democracy.

7. The conduct of the Tribunal today left nobody in doubt that it cannot do justice on the matter before it. It is also clear that today’s decision is an abuse of the rule of law which portends danger to our judicial system. The Tribunal has equally set a bad precedent in the way and manner it conducted itself during the proceedings.

8. We want to emphasise the fact that this is not part of any war against corruption but using state institutions to fight political opponents and seeking to achieve through the back door what some people cannot get through democratic process.

9. We need to caution here that in a desperate bid to settle political scores and nail imaginary enemies, we should not destroy our democratic institutions and heat the polity for selfish reasons. Let us all learn from history.

9. The Senate President is a law abiding citizen and his absence from the Tribunal today was based on the legal advice he received from his counsel that the Tribunal will respect the decision of the Federal High Court which is obviously a superior court of records. Also, he relied on a letter from the Chief Justice of Nigeria directed to the Chairman of the Tribunal last May that they are not judicial officers and are inferior to the regularsanni High Court as defined by the law and that they take official oath not judicial oath.

10. We will like to state therefore that Dr. Saraki will not do anything to undermine the judicial process and authority but he will always act to protect his fundamental human rights.

US forces help Niger build defences against Boko Haram



 Niger soldiers provide security for an anti-Boko Haram summit in Diffa city, Niger September 3, 2015.

Despite years of intimidation by the violent extremist group Boko Haram, the people of southeastern Niger’s Diffa region had never held a summit to confront the threat – perhaps with good reason.

“One person could come here and kill us all!” Diffa’s prefect, Inoussa Saouna, told 75 village leaders assembled along with politicians and military commanders in the city’s pale blue-walled cultural centre.

That same early September day, a double suicide bombing that bore Boko Haram’s hallmarks killed 19 people in nearby Cameroon.

The group, best known for its kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls in April 2014, has expanded from its base in northern Nigeria to threaten the region. It has menaced U.S. and European allies in west Africa, and leader Abubakar Shekau in March pledged its loyalty to Islamic State.

The Diffa meeting was a modest success not just for its mutually suspicious tribes but for a small team of fewer than 20 U.S. Special Operations Forces conducting an experiment that is part of President Barack Obama’s new counter-terrorism strategy.

The soldiers, who encouraged the meeting and helped provide a ring of security, do not go into combat, or even wear uniforms. They are quietly trying to help Niger build a wall against Boko Haram’s incursions and its recruitment of Diffa’s youth.

A Reuters reporter was the first to visit the detachment, which is among about 1,000 U.S. Special Operations Forces deployed across Africa.

In Chad, Nigeria, Niger and elsewhere, they are executing Obama’s relatively low-risk strategy of countering Islamic extremists by finding local partners willing to fight rather than deploying combat troops by the thousands.

The new approach, which Obama announced in May 2014, is far from being a silver bullet for the United States in its global battle against Islamic militancy. The indirect strategy appears to be faltering in the Middle East, where the United States has found few reliable allies on the battlefield in Syria. In Iraq, U.S.-trained and -equipped forces evaporated last year in the face of Islamic State’s offensive.

In Niger, there are signs of success against Boko Haram, although progress will likely be slow in a years-long effort, U.S., European and African officials say.

“For the region, this is going to be a struggle that’s going to be with them for a long time, not just in Niger, but elsewhere,” said Army Col. Bob Wilson, commander of U.S. Special Operations Forces in north and west Africa.

U.S. officials say they see predominantly Muslim Niger as worth helping. Relatively stable, but facing national and local elections in 2016, it is threatened by Boko Haram in Nigeria to the south, chaos in Libya to the north and an al Qaeda affiliate that operates in neighbouring Algeria and Mali.

The U.S. soldiers in Diffa described their mission as a sharp and welcome pivot from the Iraq and Afghan wars, where virtually all of them served. The U.S. military has not said how long their presence will last.

“It’s a totally different approach to the problem set,” an American team sergeant said in an interview. The Special Operations soldiers cannot be identified by name under military ground rules.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States also works with local security forces and leaders – but has wielded thousands of combat troops, drone strikes and pricey aid projects.

There is none of that in Diffa, a region that includes more than 200 villages along a 170-mile (273-km) stretch of the Komadougou Yobe river that marks the porous border with Nigeria.


In April, at Niger’s request, the American soldiers reinforced their small ranks on a drab, dusty compound with few amenities. Boko Haram was mounting a regional rampage and in February had launched significant attacks inside Niger for the first time.

Working alongside them is an unusual U.S. non-profit group, Spirit of America, that says it also aims to leave a light footprint. Under written understandings with the Pentagon, it buttresses U.S. military missions by providing local populations with small-scale assistance that would take Washington’s bureaucracy months or years to procure. [See: ID:nL1N11F199]

In Niger, the group has provided first-aid kits, Camelbak hydration systems and medical detectors for Niger’s military. It covered the $4,000 cost of the anti-Boko Haram summit.

“It’s providing them with enough to get through this critical phase,” said Isaac Eagan, Spirit of America’s field operations director. “It’s not fixing everything.”

Boko Haram has long used Niger for refuge and resupply, officials said. By the time the U.S. team sergeant and his men arrived, it had been luring young men from Diffa’s villages since the late 2000s, offering money and adventure, he said.

“We missed the recruiting portion of it,” he said.

Anafi Ousmane, a member of Diffa’s mayor’s council, told Reuters there had been three consecutive bad harvests of peppers, a primary crop, leaving young farmers deep in debt.

“Now Boko Haram’s seeing that vulnerability,” he said through a translator. “I will give you money. I will give you another motor bike, I will give you a woman. Join me.”

One group of U.S. soldiers was training Niger military’s 3rd Antiterrorist Company. Another began to grapple with the civilian side of the problem, accompanying the nascent civil-military affairs unit of Niger’s military on visits to villages up and down the river.

They encouraged villagers to report Boko Haram activity to military authorities and young people to establish watch groups. Spirit of America provided mobile phone credits to help.

Boko Haram has killed suspected informants and fear of the group persists. In June, the militants attacked two villages in Diffa, killing at least 30 civilians. Some died inside their mostly straw-thatched houses, which were set alight.

Sergeant Fougou Saley, chief of civil-military affairs for the Diffa region, said Boko Haram’s violent tactics have alienated much of the populace. But he said it still draws support from some of the Kanuri people, whose lands straddle northeastern Nigeria and southeastern Niger.

“In some places, some still have their heart toward Boko Haram,” said Saley, himself a Kanuri.

But African, U.S. and European officials say the group’s attacks in Niger have dropped significantly in the face of a regional counter-offensive this year by Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

“I think their command structure has suffered a lot,” Colonel Major Moussa Salaou Barmou, commander of the military district that encompasses Diffa, told Reuters.

But Barmou said he warned his superiors: “Always keep in mind one fact, that Boko Haram still keeps the ability to regroup very fast, conduct an action and disappear again.”


The counter-Boko Haram summit brought together representatives of the Kanuri, Faluni and Buduma tribes, as well as representatives of thousands of refugees who have fled violence in northern Nigeria.

Voices were raised over whether former Boko Haram members who had been arrested and set free should be allowed to rejoin their communities. Most said no. When one speaker declared that captured insurgents should be executed, applause broke out.

The U.S. soldiers stuck to their behind-the-scenes approach. The team sergeant and a few others watched from the back of the room and did not intervene even when the gathering appeared to almost collapse in confusion after 20 minutes.

The soldiers say they feel more welcome in Niger than in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the long U.S. military presence, American missteps and mutual misunderstandings eroded tolerance.

“They’re fully supportive of getting Boko Haram out of here. It’s nice to be able to work with folks like that – that want the problem gone,” said the team sergeant, who was wrapping up his deployment and handing off to his replacement.

Less clear is how long the Americans will remain.

One thing they won’t leave behind is large-scale development projects like those in Iraq and Afghanistan. Years of reports by U.S. inspectors general documented wide-scale waste and corruption in those aid efforts.

“The biggest thing was not pumping money and projects into the region,” the team sergeant said. “Is it sustainable? Absolutely.”

Saley, his counterpart from Niger, said: “I would even like the Americans to stay for 40 years. … I don’t know what the American government and Niger government will decide.”