France has pledged to support Nigeria with equipment and intelligence gathering in its counter-terrorism operations and other forms of extremism in the north-east.
President François Hollande made the pledge at a joint press conference at the Elysee Palace, with visiting President Muhammadu Buhari, who is on a three-day working visit to Paris.
The French President also said his administration would support the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), saying that the fight against Boko Haram and Islamic State jihadists is the same battle.
The MNJTF is the almost 9,000-strong force constituted by Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Benin to fight the Boko Haram sect.
He warned that Boko Haram had expanded “after declaring its loyalty to IS”, emphasising that the jihadists’ alliance, announced in March, had given the Nigerian terrorist group “a source of material resources”.
“We know Boko Haram is linked to Daesh and so receives help, support from this group,” Hollande said.
“To fight Boko Haram is to fight Daesh, and we can no longer single out terrorism according to regions.
“It is the same terrorism, inspired by the same ideology of death,” the French leader stated.
Mr Hollande said his government was concerned about the increasing spate of insecurity in Nigeria and West Africa and was ready to render support in tackling extremism.
The French President discussion with President Buhari also looked at new strategies of partnership that would enable Nigeria and its neighbouring countries – Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin Republic – through the joint action of the MNJTF, fight the insurgency and restore the peace.
He said: “We provide all of the support to the countries in the region which are affected by this cult and in Nigeria; we want to provide support and solidarity”.
Thanking Mr Buhari for his recent actions towards defeating terror, Hollande said France had concluded arrangements to invest 130 million Euros in the development of infrastructure in Nigeria for rebuilding of roads, provision of electricity and water supply.
Greatly Blessed Nation
President Buhari thanked the French government for its interest in assisting Nigeria and expressed readiness of his administration to partner with France.
He said that Nigeria’s next shopping list for support would move to other members of the G7.
“We have to depend on France and the other G7 countries for support to fight piracy.
“Our next shopping list is going to G7 in terms of intelligence and training. Another problem is the problem in the Gulf of Guinea, from Senegal to Angola, that area is endowed with resources like petroleum and other minerals but surrounded by piracy and theft.
“We are going to depend on France and the G7 countries to flush these criminals out of the region.
“More than 67 per cent of our youths and most of them under their youthful age are unemployed. We are finding best way in Agriculture and mining to address this before sophisticated infrastructure and security, are provided,” the Nigerian President said.
Wooing investors in a meeting on Monday, President Buhari said there was more to Nigeria than just oil exploration, stressing that the Nigeria is greatly blessed with lands rich in agricultural and mineral resources coupled with skilled and low-cost labour, large market, robust and competitive private sector, stressing that the areas remained largely untapped.
He also stated that other critical areas, such as agriculture, energy, automobile and skill development needed to be expanded to provide jobs for the youths.