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The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 29th April 2021

The politics of Nigeria's security threats

Blue Lines

The synchronicity of two headlines on 27 April – 'Boko Haram two hours from Abuja' and 'Buhari calls on US to move Africa Command HQ to continent' – paints an alarming landscape of the security breakdown in Nigeria and the region. Almost as unsettling is the lack of reaction from the government and security services. Niger State governor Abubakar Bello, of the ruling All Progressives' Congress, said the Islamist insurgents were operating in three local government areas in the state and had 'hoisted Boko Haram's black flag' there.  

Niger State Senator Sani Musa opened a debate in the Assembly calling for the police and army to respond to the crisis. The House of Representatives called on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency to 'fast track all measures to ensure the restoration of peace'. All demands met with deafening silence. Although Buhari has sacked all three service chiefs as well as the police chief in the past three months, he has rejected all calls to answer questions on security in the Assembly. 

That makes his suggestion via video conference on 27 April to United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken to move the US Africa Command HQ 'closer to the theatre of operations' all the more baffling. Until now, Buhari had fiercely rejected foreign intervention in African security. Might his change of heart be a sign of desperation?