VOICE OF AMERICA
11 March, 2015
(going straight to the point, that is)
(…).President Jonathan hit back at criticisms that foreign troops aren’t being allowed to push into Boko Haram strongholds deep in Nigerian territory. He said Cameroon previously denied Nigeria permission to pursue Boko Haram into its territory, and added that restrictions on foreign troops were matters of coordination.
“I think the idea is that — look, for any major aggression, we should know. Where possible, let some Nigerian soldiers also be with you,” the president said.
He also said that foreign technicians are present in the northeast to teach Nigerian troops on how to use their new weapons, since there wasn’t time to train the troops before they deployed.
“So we now have this technical people who are trainers and technicians, who are to train our people on how to use them, and
technicians that help the maintenance, at the same time training our people how to maintain this equipment,” Jonathan said.He said two unnamed companies were involved in the training but declined to offer nationalities or numbers of the trainers.
Jonathan dismissed the suggestion that Boko Haram’s insurgency has come to define his time in office. “Yes,it’s a major security issue, it’s the number one security issue we have as a nation. But definitely you cannot define us by Boko Haram,” he said.
As the multinational offensive continues,Jonathan predicted that the northeastern states of Yobe and Adamawa would be cleared of Boko Haram territory before the middle of next week. He said he hopes neighboring Borno State, where the group started, will be cleared in the next three weeks.
But Jonathan said he expects Boko Haram to continue bombing markets and bus stops. He says the government’s strategy is to improve intelligence gathering as well as job and educational prospects in the northeast as a long-term strategy to destroy the group.
Buhari praises troops
His main opponent, General Muhammadu Buhari, told VOA last week he is not surprised that Nigerian soldiers have started to push Boko Haram out of areas the militants had captured.Buhari said that in the past the soldiers weren’t properly armed and weren’t properly motivated to fight.
The joint operations with Chad, Niger and Cameroon forced the government to get more sophisticated weapons to the troops,Buhari said.
He also paid tribute to Nigerian soldiers, who,he said, have been known for gallantry in past international peacekeeping operations all over the world and promised them a better deal if he takes over the presidency.