Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari gave his new military leaders a three-month time frame for eradicating the ISIS-linked terror group Boko Haram during their inauguration this week, as the group expands its murderous activity to Cameroon, Niger, and Chad.
“You need to brace up and continue to team up with other stakeholders to come up with a well-coordinated joint effort which will bring a desired end to these insurgencies within three months,” Buhari said in a speech during the ceremony in which his new appointed leaders were inaugurated. Buhari appointed these new leaders of each service of the armed forces in July, after firing all of their predecessors in a move seen as expected, given that all former leaders were appointed by former President Goodluck Jonathan. Experts believe Jonathan lost as an incumbent to Buhari due to Nigerians’ impatience with the languid pace at which the military was working to combat the terrorist threat.
Addressing concerns that those leading the fight against Boko Haram before him were political appointees owed favors, rather than the best men for the job, Buhari added:
I want to reiterate that your appointments and subsequent elevation to these ranks are based on your pedigree as first class senior officers who identify sterling leadership qualities. Therefore, I have no doubt in my mind that all of you are equal to the task ahead of you. You must acquaint yourselves and justify the honour done to you.
Boko Haram has killed at least 17,000 people since 2009, when the group established itself. It has since evolved into a subgroup of the Islamic State, the largest jihadist group in the country. And, Chadian President Idriss Deby asserts, it has experienced a change in its leadership in the past few months. “There is someone apparently called Muhamat Daoud who is said to have replaced Abubakar Shekau and he wants to negotiate with the Nigerian government,” Deby said in a speech this week, adding, “I would advise not to negotiate.” While Nigerian officials have claimed in the past that they have received messages from individuals claiming to be representatives of Boko Haram looking to negotiate, Buhari’s administration has not confirmed Deby’s claims.
Local governments in Nigeria are striving to find any new solution to keep their villages safe, particularly in northeast Nigeria, where Boko Haram is most active. In Adamawa state, the governor announced a new initiative: mass government-sponsored prayer. “We have earmarked N200 million for prayers to seek for Allah’s intervention in tackling the Boko Haram menace and other insecurity challenges threatening the stability of the state,” he declared, the equivalent of about one million U.S. dollars.