AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
27 February, 2014
French President Francois Hollande promised Nigeria support on Thursday in the battle against Islamist group Boko Haram, saying France would always be ready to help combat extremism in defence of democracy.
“Your struggle is also our struggle,”
Hollande told delegates at a security
conference in the capital Abuja ahead of
Nigeria’s unification centenary
celebrations. “We will always stand ready not only to provide our political support but our help every time you need it because the struggle against terrorism is also the struggle for democracy.”
Hollande lamented some of the recent
violence perpetrated by suspected by
Boko Haram fighters, including the
massacre earlier this week of at least 43
students in their sleep at a secondary
school in the Islamists’ northeast stronghold.
Despite crises in several regions, the French president maintained there was
reason for optimism in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. “Africa has a great future. It’s the continent of tomorrow,” he said but warned that such promise could be “impeded by insecurity”. He then vowed to double French overseas
development aid to the continent within
the next five years.
Hollande, guest of honour for the
celebrations to mark 100 years since
Nigeria’s unification, was expected to
hold talks on trade and investment with
his Nigerian counterpart Goodluck
Jonathan. But given the deteriorating Boko Haram conflict in northern Nigeria and France’s recent military interventions against militants in Mali and the Central African Republic, security was expected to feature prominently in bilateral talks.