…wants relocation of US AFRICOM to Africa
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday urged the United States should consider moving its military headquarters overseeing Africa to the continent, from Germany to better tackle growing armed violence in the region.
Buhari, in a virtual meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), should be relocated to Africa itself.
“Considering the growing security challenges in West and Central Africa, Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region and the Sahel, weighing heavily on Africa, it underscores the need for the United States to consider re-locating AFRICOM headquarters… near the theatre of operation,” said Buhari.
“The security challenges in Nigeria remain of great concern to us and impacted more negatively, by existing complex negative pressures in the Sahel, Central and West Africa, as well as the Lake Chad Region.
“Compounded as the situation remains, Nigeria and her security forces remain resolutely committed to containing them and addressing their root causes.
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“The support of important and strategic partners like United States cannot be overstated as the consequences of insecurity will affect all nations hence the imperative for concerted cooperation and collaboration of all nations to overcome these challenges.
“In this connection, and considering the growing security challenges in West and Central Africa, Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region and the Sahel, weighing heavily on Africa, it underscores the need for the United States to consider re-locating AFRICOM Headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany to Africa and near the Theatre of Operation,’’ he said.
The President said Nigeria will enhance collaborations in all forms, with friends and strategic partners, to work together for greater security for all, which remain the most significant condition for overcoming the existential challenges.
President Buhari congratulated Blinken on his appointment by President Joe Biden and commended the United States for the decision to repeal the immigration restriction known as the “Muslim ban’’, re-joining the World Health Organization (WHO) and Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
“Nigeria attaches great importance to its relations with the United States. Let me in this connection express appreciation to President Joe Biden for his welcome and reaching decision to repeal the Immigration restriction known as the ‘Muslim ban’ on travel and visas for citizens predominantly from Muslim Nations and African Countries, including Nigeria.
“I also wish to congratulate the United States for re-joining the World Health Organization (WHO) and Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The leadership of the United States in these two organizations is crucial for international community.
“This action is a demonstration of the United States commitment in championing and supporting international organizations with the aim to build a better world for all,’’ he added.
Nigerian security forces face multiple security challenges including school kidnappings by armed gangs in the northwest and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea as well as the decade-long insurgency by Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which also carries out attacks in neighbouring Niger, Cameroon and Chad.
West Africa’s Sahel region is in the grip of a security crisis as groups with ties to al Qaeda and Islamic State attack military forces and civilians, despite help from French and United Nations forces.
President Buhari spoke a week after the death of the longtime president of Chad, Idriss Deby, in a battle against rebels.
Deby was an important Western ally in the fight against Islamist militants and under him Chadian soldiers formed a key component of a multinational force fighting Boko Haram and its offshoot, which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State.